Scheda insegnamento

Anno Accademico 2017/2018

Conoscenze e abilità da conseguire

The course provides an introduction and overview of some main points of debate on the economic policies of contemporary societies. Using historical and contemporary examples, and simple models and data sets, students understand the importance of well-designed and well-functioning economic institutions and policies and the complexity of economic governance. In particular, teaching activity is divided in three parts or modules, with the purpose of encouraging and enabling students to: (1) Identify the main “policy issues” in contemporary capitalist societies, reflecting on the roles and limits of markets and of the state, and on how well-designed institutions may improve the performance of markets and the effectiveness of governance mechanisms. (2) Analize, in reference to both historical and contemporary examples, the main issues that arise around the governance of common goods. (3) Familiarize with the methods and tools used by economists to analyze labor market issues, access research by leading experts and discuss policy issues that are of particular relevance for the labor market (such as the gender wage gap, youth unemployment in Europe, the efficacy of youth labor market programs, the formalization of informal jobs in developing countries, self-employment and poverty in developing countries, the costs of worker displacement in developed and emerging economies, and labor market adjustment in the Great Recession).


MODULE 1: Prof. Riccardo Rovelli (12 lectures)

A. Introduction (2 lectures):

  1. Organization and purpose of the module
  2. From micro and macro economics to economic policies:  (a) Purpose and tools of policies;  (b)Sources of disagreement.
  3. Economic policies in an "ideal" world.

B.  Five big issues for economic policy in the real world (2 lectures):

  1. Why don't all countries grow?
  2. Why growth does not always take care of poverty?
  3. When does growth become unsustainable?
  4. How does globalization challenge our economic system?
  5. The state and the markets: what are their roles?

C. Concepts, institutions and policies (8 lectures):

  1. Efficiency in a market economy. 
  2. Market failures and their cures: economies of scale, market power, externalities.
  3. Is efficiency enough?
  4. Market and non-market modes of economic relations: cooperation/reciprocity, command/redistribution, exchange.
  5. Institutions supporting the market / capitalist economy: property, money, finance, corporation, trust, rule of law.
  6. Fairness and ethics in a market economy. The limit of markets, and the limits of policies.
  7. Varieties of capitalism and welfare states: do differences matter?


MODULE 2: Prof. Marco Casari (5 lectures)

Governing the Commons

  1. What is the tragedy of the commons?
  2. Community governance of a local common: the historical case of Trentino
  3. Climate change as a global common
  4. Policies to address climate change
  5. A successful global governance: the Montreal Protocol


MODULE 3: Prof. Hartmut Lehmann (12 lectures)

General Content

After a general overview of various aspects related to the functioning of the labor market we will analyze concrete topics that are at the center of the current policy debate using a novel resource for policy makers (the IZA World of Labor internet platform).


Part I: General overview

Lecture 1: Overview of the labor market or why is the labor not like any other market?

Lecture 2: Labor Supply in a perfectly competitive setting.

Lecture 3: Labor demand in a perfectly competitive setting.

Lectures 4, 5 and 6: Structural unemployment: Trade unions and the labor market.

Lecture 7: Structural unemployment: Efficiency wages.

Lecture 8, 9, 10: Active Labor Market Policies and their Evaluation.

Part II: Specific policy relevant issues

Lectures 11 – 12, including students' presentations.


For each module, a dedicated website will contain all the required readings and documents, including the lecture notes.

Details about each website and the required readings (scholarly articles, book chapters and internet documents) will be given in the first lecture of each module.

Metodi didattici

Lectures will be supported by PC-based presentations.

Students are advised to download and read these presentations (and possibly the related readings) before lectures.

Emphasis will be placed on the use of Internet sources to access information and policy debates relevant to the course.

Students are encouraged to take an active part in many class discussions.

Modalità di verifica dell'apprendimento

For students attending class ("Studenti frequentanti"), the final mark is equal to the sum of the points obtained from each module. If the sum is equal to 31 or 32, the final mark is "30 e lode".

Module 1 (Maximum 13 points). Students can choose:

  • Option A: written test on 4 out of 7 question, plus a short essay (time: 1 hour).
  • Option B: written test on 6 out of 7 questions (no essay - time: 1h 30'). 

Module 2 (Maximum 6 points)

  • Written test, which requires to answer 2 out of 3 questions (30').

Module 3 (Maximum 13 points). Evaluation is based on two parts:

  • A written test, which requires to answer 2 short questions and 2 long questions, where students can choose from 6 questions. Response time to a short question should be about 15 minutes, to a long question about 30 minutes. (Max 9 points).
  • A class presentation. Students will choose under guidance specific IZA World of Labor articles on a topic of interest and will present the content of the articles. Topics can include but are not limited to: migration flows into the EU, youth unemployment in Europe, technological progress and employment, the efficacy of Active Labor Market Policies, women's changing position in the labor market, the fate of displaced workers during the Great Recession (Max 4 points).

The test for Modules 1 and 2 (“Intermediate test”) will be taken in the same day, at the end of the lectures for these modules.

The test for Module 3 (“Final test”) will be taken after the end of all lectures.

All written tests will be performed on a PC. One test may be missed exclusively for grave reasons (to be authorized explicitly), in which case it will have to be taken in the first “appello di esami” in the June session.


Students who do not attend lectures (non frequentanti), or who do not show up at the written tests, will take a single written test in a regular exam session (prova totale).

  • This test will require short answers (max 250 words) to 14 questions, with the same examination programme as for the students who have attended class. (Time: 3h 30').

Strumenti a supporto della didattica

Lectures are supported by PC-based presentations.

Lecture notes, required readings and internet resources are accessible from dedicated websites (one for each module). The Internet address will be communicated during the first lecture of each module.

A password will be required to access the required readings.

Orario di ricevimento

Consulta il sito web di Riccardo Rovelli

Consulta il sito web di Hartmut Lehmann

Consulta il sito web di Marco Casari