14604 - Notions of Agricultural Economics

Course Unit Page

Academic Year 2022/2023

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 1 Introduction (10 hours)

The definition of agriculture and its relation with the territory and the environment. Traditional and modern agriculture. Agriculture in different economic systems. The definition of economics, its object and methods. Macro- and micro- economics. Economics goods and needs. The main economic problems: to produce what, how, for whom.

Learning outcomes: the student gains the basics to explain the features of agriculture and its evolution within the different economic systems. He/she can understand the meaning and the major elements of economic sciences.

Unit 2 What to produce (12 hours)

The basics of supply and demand. The individual and collective demand function. The supply function. Elasticity of supply and demand. Consumer behavior: utility, indifference curves, consumer equilibrium. The Engel's law. Consumer surplus.

Learning outcomes: the student knows the variables affecting price definition in competitive markets. He/she can understand the meaning of the changes in supply and demand curves.

Unità 3 How to produce (14 hours)

Definition of production. Direct and indirect factors of production. Production theories. The function of production with one or more factors. Pareto efficiency. Fixed-coefficient production function. Production cost, total costs, fixed and variable costs. Analysis and classification of production costs. Short-term cost curves. Total unit cost and marginal cost. The production volume. Long-temr cost curves. Markets theory: market classification and perfect competition, monopoly and other types of markets.

Learning outcomes: the student knows the different theoretical approaches to the production process and he/she can identify features of the agricultural sectors, also in order to solve management problems in competitive farms. He/she can explain the production cost and its elements. He/she can understand agricultural markets' dynamics.

Unit 4 Welfare economics and government intervention (6 hours)

Esternalities and market failure. Reasons for Government Intervention, price control, taxes and subsidies. Public goods, common-pool resources and merit goods.

Learning outcomes: the student knows the basics of welfare economics and is able to recognize the reasons for governmental intervention. He/she recognize the characteristics of public goods, common-pool resources and merit goods.

Unit 5 Elements of macroeconomics (6 hours)

National Income. Measuring the cost of life. Production and growth.

Learning outcomes: the student understands the basics of macroeconomics. He/she can define the basic concepts related to national Income, price index and inflation. He/she is aware of the major theories related to production, growth.

Unit 6 Seminars and exercizes (12 hours)

Case studies and practical applications: behavioural economics; income and inequality; food waste as a market failure etc. Exercizes. Seminars with experts, market operators and public servants.

Learning outcomes: the student is able to analyze the selected case studies taking advantage of the competencies gained in the previous units.


N Gregory Mankiw, Mark P. Taylor, Principles of Economics (Chapters 1-22, Chapter 9 excluded), any edition.

The book will be integrated with slides and other material provided by the lecturer.

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.

The assessment method might be modified depending on the Covid-19 restriction and learning modalities (fully in presence, blended or fully online).

Teaching tools

Laptop and beamer.

Office hours

See the website of Matteo Vittuari