Course 2009-2010 a.y.



Department of Economics

Course taught in English

Go to class group/s: 31
CLEAM (6 credits - I sem. - AI) - CLEF (6 credits - I sem. - AI) - BIEM (6 credits - I sem. - AI)
Course Director:

Classes: 31 (I sem.)

Course Objectives

How do politics, institutions and culture affect economics? The course is designed to provide the participants with an introduction to contemporary political institutions and to modern political and culture economics. The aim is to understand tha main features of contemporary democracies and explain the determination of economic policy in modern democracies and to analyze how these policies may differ according to the different political institutions or to different cultural traits. Focusing on the welfare state and the labour and product markets, this course analyzes how political and electoral incentives may influence the economic policy. The course then addresses how these differences in economic policies may arise from political institutions, in particular electoral rules and regime types. The role of culture is also addressed. How does social capital, family culture and amoral familism affect individual behaviour and economic growth? Is there a difference preference for redistribution in Europe versus the US?

Course Content Summary

  • The impact of political institutions on decision-making, with particular focus on the role of party systems, executive-legislative relations, electoral systems, interest groups and division of power;
  • Analysis of Welfare State politics and policies in Europe and the US;
  • Tools of political economics: voting models;
  • Welfare state and redistributive policies: general transfers, pension system, labor market regulations and unemployment benefits. Data, facts and theory;
  • Electoral rules and electoral competition: single-district proportional elections, multiple-district majoritarian elections. Broad versus targeted redistribution;
  • The Role of Culture: Social Capital vs. Amoral Familism. The economic impacts;
  • Preferences for redistribution: Europe vs US. Why do they differ?

Detailed Description of Assessment Methods

Written exam.
Students have two options. They may take the exam in two written parts: a 1st partial exam and a 2nd partial exam which will cover the first half and the second half of the course respectively. In this case the exam will be considered as passed only if both exams are sufficient. Alternatively, they may take a general exam covering the entire course material.


  • A. LIJPHART, Patterns of Democracy, Yale University Press, 1999
  • V. GALASSO, The Political Future of Social Security in Aging Societies, MIT Press, December 2006
  • Handouts and slides.
Exam textbooks & Online Articles (check availability at the Library)
Last change 05/05/2009 14:22