81742 - Welfare Economics and Policy

Course Unit Page


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

No poverty Good health and well-being Decent work and economic growth Reduced inequalities

Academic Year 2021/2022

Learning outcomes

The course deals with the analysis of the models of public intervention in the financing, commissioning and supply of welfare services – such as the health care and the social care services -, that are facing deep demographic, technological and socio-economic changes. The course will focus, in a comparative perspective, on the transformation from a setting where financing, commissioning and supply of services are all performed by vertically integrated public organizations to settings where the governmental bodies limit themselves to the financing, letting other private or public bodies to manage the services under a regulatory framework. Using also a case-study approach, the students are led to investigate the distributive and allocative implications of adopting tools to imitate the working of markets (vouchers, auctions, contracting-out) or of other competitive frameworks (pay for performance schemes, incentives, information disclosure mechanisms). At the end of the course, the students will be able to critically evaluate the aforesaid mechanisms not only in terms of their distributive and allocative effects or of their long term financial sustainability, but also as for the coherence of such effects with their institutional objectives.

Course contents

The rationale for public intervention in the financing and supply of welfare services

Classic models of financing and supply

Recent problems of financial and political sustainability for the welfare services

New public management tools: public reporting, evaluation and incentives

Private provision of publicly financed services: regulation of quasi markets, contestability and freedom of choice


The reading list and the slides are available on Virtuale.

Teaching methods

Classes and discussions.

Assessment methods

Students regularly attending the lectures can take the exam discussing a presentation on one of the themes dealt with during the course. Those who do not choose to give the presentation have to take a written test to assess their ability to critically evaluate some of the themes discussed during the course. In the written test, students are given outlines to develop short essays in two hours. Students can choose the approach that is more coherent with their own background. However, they are expected to address the proposed themes with a good level of rigour and appropriateness and to take into consideration the interdisciplinary nature of the issues at stake. Evaluations for the final grade: Sufficient preparation only on a few questions, limited ability to perform a critical analysis of the literature, fairly appropriate technical language → 18-19; Fairly good preparation on most questions, good ability to perform a critical analysis of the literature, appropriate technical language → 20-24; Good preparation on all questions, very good ability to perform a critical analysis of the literature, good mastery of technical language → 25-29; Exhaustive preparation on all questions, very good ability to perform a critical analysis of the literature and to develop connections between references, full mastery of the technical language → 30-30L.

Teaching tools

Video projector.

Office hours

See the website of Gianluca Fiorentini