94471 - Food Economics & Policy

Course Unit Page


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

Zero hunger Good health and well-being Responsible consumption and production

Academic Year 2020/2021

Learning outcomes

By the end of the course, students will acquire an understanding of the economic forces behind the functioning of food markets, and knowledge of the most important food policy instruments. Students will be also introduced to models and quantitative methods for the analysis of food systems and the most relevant food policies. A special focus on the market for food safety, risk behaviours and food safety policies will be provided.

Course contents

  • Food supply and food demand: price, trade, technological progress
  • The market for food safety
  • Market failure and foodborne risks, asymmetric information and moral hazard
  • Information economics and policy: the market for news
  • Elements of behavioural economics: risk perception, risk attitudes and consumer behaviour under uncertainty
  • Case study on the economics of food scares: analysis of the BSE crisis
  • A taxonomy of food policies: market vs. information measures
    • Information policies and social marketing
    • Fiscal policies: taxes and subsidies
    • Regulations and food standards
    • Trade measures and non-tariff barriers
  • Elements of policy evaluation: counterfactual scenario, difference-in-difference, propensity score matching, instrumental variables, regression discontinuity designs


The course will be mainly based on lecture notes and chapters/articles provided through the e-learning platform

Teaching methods

The course consists of a combination of theoretical lectures, applied case studies and quantitative tutorials.

Assessment methods

Written exam, structured in two sections:

1) A short part with multiple-choice and open-ended questions on the foundations of food economics and policy (50% of final mark)

2) A section on the interpretation of case studies from selected scientific articles distributed to the students during the course (50% of final mark)

Teaching tools

This module provides a set of case studies on the economics and policy of food safety. The e-learning platform will enable access to interactive contents, data and case studies, Stata codes.

Office hours

See the website of Mario Mazzocchi