75575 - Economics of Welfare

Course Unit Page

  • Teacher Corrado Benassi

  • Credits 6

  • SSD SECS-P/01

  • Teaching Mode Traditional lectures

  • Language English


This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.

Good health and well-being Reduced inequalities

Academic Year 2018/2019

Learning outcomes

The course provides the basic theoretical models which can be used to define economic welfare, to provide adequate measures thereof, and to assess the welfare effects of policy choices. Specific applications will be discussed with reference to the welfare implications of sustainability issues, including the definition of welfare indices, taxation, poverty, and social discount rates.

Course contents

  1. Introduction: General perspectives on the economics of welfare (positive and normative ideas, utilitarianism and beyond, economics and justice, economics of happiness); welfare and economic welfare.

  2. From welfare to economic welfare: utilitarianism, efficiency and social decision rules.

  3. Basic models: Pareto optimality and the two fundamental theorems; the second best theorem; externalities.

  4. Applications: (a) The population problem; (b) Taxation; (c) Topics in welfare and sustainability.


Basic theory is covered by any microeconomics handbook, like H.Varian, Microeconomic Analysis, Norton (any edition later than the second will do) or, at a more advanced level, A.Mas-Colell, M.D.Whinston and J.R.Green, Microeconomic Theory, Oxford University Press, 1995. Further references and a list of readings will be provided in class.

Teaching methods

This is a taught course with lectures

Assessment methods

The exam consists of a written test. Students are not allowed to bring books, personal notes or electronic devices, and are required to register in advance for the exam through AlmaEsami according to the general rules of the School of Economics, Management and Statistics. Grading is on a 30 point basis: 30 max (plus distinction), minimum pass grade 18/30. Depending on the number and willingness of students, classwork and students presentations may be organized, the assessment of which will be worth up to one third of the final grade.

Teaching tools

Most lectures will involve topics presentation by the teacher and  class discussions. Handouts will be available for students.

Office hours

See the website of Corrado Benassi