14604 - Notions of Agricultural Economics

Academic Year 2023/2024

  • Moduli: Matteo Vittuari (Modulo Mod 1) Matteo Masotti (Modulo Mod 2)
  • Teaching Mode: Traditional lectures (Modulo Mod 1) Traditional lectures (Modulo Mod 2)
  • Campus: Bologna
  • Corso: First cycle degree programme (L) in Agricultural Technology (cod. 5832)

Learning outcomes

The course aims at providing students with the basic theoretical tools to analyze the main dynamics of the economic system. lectures will focus on the main principles related the behavior of economic agents, to the functioning of markets and to the use and management of natural resources. the discussion of economic theories will be joined with the illustration of case studies applied to the agro-food sector.

Course contents

Unit 0: Introduction to the course (2 hours)

Unit 1: The economic system (14 hours)
Income inequality. The economic system and its basic concepts. Economics as a field of study, scope and methods of economics. Economic goods and needs. The main economic problems: what, how, for who to produce. Economic models. The Malthusian economy. Choice and scarcity.

Seminar 1: The 10 principles of economics
Seminar 2: Economics, environment, agriculture and food
Exercise 1: The economist’s toolbox

Acquired skills: the student knows the basic references to interpret the specificities of agriculture and its evolution within the different economic systems. He/she can understand the meaning of the elements that characterize the economic sciences.

Materials: CORE Chapters 1, 2 and 3; slides; recommended readings

Unit 2 What and for whom to produce (14 hours)
Demand, supply, and market balance. Elasticity of supply and demand. The theory of consumer choice and the role of social interactions in choices: the utility function, the indifference curves, the balance of the consumer. Engel’s law. Consumer surplus.

Seminar 3: Behavioural Economics
Exercise 2: Measure the utility function and consumer equilibrium

Acquired skills: the student knows the variables that influence the formation of prices in competitive markets. He/she critically understands the meaning of supply and demand shifts and identify the interpretative and application potential of the acquired notions.
Materials: CORE Chapters 4, 5; slides; recommended readings

Unit 3 How to produce (16 hours)
How to produce. Behaviour of firms in a competitive market: the notion of production, direct and indirect factors of production and references to labour market dynamics, theories of production, analysis and classification of production costs, short- and long-term cost curves, profit maximisation and the supply curve, the supply curve in a competitive market. The surplus of the producer. The production decisions of enterprises and the role of taxes. The markets of the factors of production. The benefits of market exchanges.

Seminar 4: Blockchain technologies: a new perspective for the economic system
Exercise 3: The firms and the maximization of profit

Acquired skills: the student knows the different theoretical approaches on production and can identify the specificities of agricultural production, also for solving management issues in competitive agricultural enterprises. He/she can understand the notion production cost and its components. Finally, he/she can understand the characteristics and specificities of agricultural markets.

Materials: CORE Chapters 6 and 7; slide; recommended readings

Unit 4 Economy of welfare and public intervention (10 hours)
Externalities and market failure. Reasons for public intervention, price control, taxes, subsidies. Monopoly. Monopoly competition. Oligopoly. Public goods, collective resources and meritorious goods. Missing markets and environmental goods.

Seminar 5: The true cost of food
Seminar 6: Ecosystem services

Acquired skills: the student knows the basic elements of the economy of well-being and can recognize the reasons for public intervention. He/she can recognize the characteristics of public goods, collective resources, and meritorious assets, as well as cases of market failure.

Materials: CORE Chapters 8, 11 and 12; slide; readings

Unit 5 Elements of Macroeconomics (4 hours)
Measure a nation’s income: the income and expenditure of the economic system. Measure the cost of living. The impact of inflation on well-being.

Acquired skills: the student understands the basics of macroeconomics and the flows that characterize it. He/she can define the basic concepts related to national product and national accounts, price index and inflation.

Materials: CORE Chapter 13; slide; recommended readings

Optional chapters of CORE: 9, 10, 14 and 15


Main text

Samuel Bowles, Wendy Carlin, Margaret Stevens, L’economia - Comprendere il mondo che cambia, Il Mulino Manuali, 2017

Online version (free): https://www.core-econ.org/

Alternative text

N Gregory Mankiw, Mark P. Taylor, Principi di Economia, Zanichelli, 2015, or newer versioni (Chapters 1-22 excluding 9)

The text will be integrated with slides and other material

Teaching methods

Front loaded and active learning methodologies; group and individual exercises; seminars.

Assessment methods

The final exam consists in a written test that requires to answer to 5 questions in one hour. The 5 questions will cover the 6 units that characterize the programme. In case of positive, but not satisfactory evaluation, the student has the possibility to take an additional oral exam.

Students wishing to take the examination in English should inform the lecturer at least two days in advance.

Teaching tools

Laptop and beamer.

Office hours

See the website of Matteo Vittuari

See the website of Matteo Masotti