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Learning Objectives

The main goal of the course is to introduce the students to the main concepts of Public Choice, with both a theoretical and an empirical approach. The course deals with the theoretical problems related to the behavior of voters and politicians; additionally, it introduces the students to the empirical methodology applied to political economy problems. Particular attention is given to issues related to the electoral competition and bureaucracy.

The final goal is gain a comprehensive knowledge of the political environment from a rational-choice perspective.

The final goal is to gain knowledge of the analytical tools to study and understand the political environment and operate in the field of policy making.

At the end of the course, the student will have acquired the theoretical and methodological tools to analyze and understand the political environment both in its structural characteristics and in its recent developments. She will also have gained familiarity with the tools necessary to design, implement and evaluate public policies.

Students must be able to use the tools learned during the course to interpret the political phenomena.


A first degree in Economics (with a particular focus on Microeconomics) is ideal. In particular an introductory course in microeconomics and possibly in basic public finance would be welcome (concept of taxation, at least in a competitive market). In the second module the main tool of analysis will be game theory, and the students are supposed to already know the concept of Nash equilibrium in both static and dynamic games. Basic of mathematics is also necessary.


The first part of the course covers the concepts of externalities, public good and studies the means by which an institution is able to ensure their provision. A system of optimal taxation (on goods and income) and the effects on social welfare will be studied.
The second part includes a study of the theoretical and practical framework of public procurement procedures.


The necessary material is uploaded on the website. The textbooks are the following:
Public Finance, Rosen and Gayer 2014, McGraw-Hill
Intermediate Public Economics, (1st of 2nd edition), Hindriks & Myles, MIT Press
Handbook of Procurement, (2006), Piga, Dimitri, Spagnolo (eds), Cambridge University Press
Any other further reading will be available on the website.


Additional materials, such as scholarly articles on particular topics, and lecture slides will be made available on the course page.

Teaching methods

Lezioni ed esercitazioni in classe

Exam Rules

The final exam is a 1,5-hour written test consisting of three questions. Within each question there might be a choice of "sub-questions". To pass the exam it is necessary to obtain a mark of 18 in at least 2 questions. The mark for the written exam is given by the average mark of the three questions. In each question, the scale of marks goes from 0 to 34, so students can obtain a final mark of 30 even without answering perfectly all the questions.
In addition, students can volunteer to give presentations and have their mark added to the mark of the exam. Each presentation will be given a mark from 0 to +3, which is added to the mark of the first exam session after the course only, and rounded to the nearest integer to determine the final mark of the students. Withdrawals from scheduled presentations will be marked with -1.