66250 - Public Policy And Redistribution

Course Unit Page


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

No poverty Reduced inequalities

Academic Year 2019/2020

Learning outcomes

At the end of the course the student is able to use the theoretical and methodological tools for the study of the redistributive effects of public policies.

Course contents

Module of the integrated course 70431 - WELFARE STATE E TASSAZIONE (C.I.).

Part I - Role of the state and ethical foundations of redistribution

Introduction to the theories of distributive justice: libertarianism, unanimity and Pareto efficiency, utilitarianism, Rawls's theory of justice and the egualitarian principle, functioning and capabilities.

Part II - Inequality and poverty measurement

The axiomatic approach. Statistical measures and welfare-theoretic indices. Inequality and social welfare. Equivalence scales: basic definitions and methods of computing. Absolute and relative poverty. Poverty lines and methods of determination. Standard measures and the axiomatic approach. Monetary transfers, poverty reduction and indicators of target efficiency.

Part III - Welfare State and (re)distribution of income

Theoretical justifications for welfare state expenditure. Ways of provision of social expenditure (in cash, in kind and voucher), Universalism versus targeting. Models of tax-benefit redistribution (Social Dividend, Negative Income Tax e Basic Income).

Parte IV. Social security

Financing and benefits computation in a social security system. Micro and macro economic measures of a pension system. Risk and returns of a pension system with and without uncertainty. Effects of social security on saving and labour supply. Pension reforms and redistribution. Optimal design of a pension system.


Recommended reading:

M. Baldini, S. Toso, Diseguaglianza, povertà e politiche pubbliche, Bologna, Il Mulino, 2009, 2nd edition.

M. Baldini, S. Toso, I fondamenti etici della redistribuzione, teaching material available on Insegnamenti online (IOL). 

P. Bosi, (a cura di), Corso di Scienza delle finanze, Bologna, Il Mulino, 2019, 8th edition [chapters I.1, II.1, III.1-2-3-5, VIII.1-2-4].

Additional teaching material will be available on IOL during the course.

Teaching methods

Lectures and class presentation by the students.

Assessment methods

All students must take a written exam. An oral (non compulsory) exam is also allowed. Students attending the lectures are expected to write and present an essay, which will be chosen within a predetermined list. At least one lecture will be devoted to a collective discussion of an issue of economic policy which is particularly relevant in the public debate. Examples of past exam questions will be made available on line. The mark obtained in the essay (the range goes from 1 to 2) has to be added to the mark of the written exam to get the final one.    

Teaching tools

A video-projector will be used in some lectures, for presentations with Power Point files.

Office hours

See the website of Stefano Toso