Anno Accademico 2023/2024

  • Modalità didattica: Convenzionale - Lezioni in presenza
  • Campus: Bologna
  • Corso: Laurea in Economia, mercati e istituzioni (cod. 8038)

Conoscenze e abilità da conseguire

The main objective of the course is to provide students with tools to think critically and autonomously about economic ideas and public policy. After completing the course, students should be able to elaborate a map of the successive interfaces between economics and policy, and to understand the major controversies surrounding the development of positive and normative economics.


Economists think and write about the world in order to understand the way economic systems function, but also – sometimes – in order to transform them. This course provides a historical overview of the role of economists in public policy since the end of the 19th Century.

The course is structured in three parts: 1) a description of the different regimes of the interventions of economists in policy, 2) a series of case studies focused on institutions, and 3) an exploration of conflicting values through the history of public economics.

The first part of the course will explore the evolution of the role of economists and the status of economic knowledge, from the margins to the core of policymaking, following the successive regimes of intervention. The chronological overview will start with political economy’s ambitions to social reform in the late 19th century. It will then analyse the changing nature of economists’ role in policy after the Great Depression, especially in the developments of the welfare state and the planned economy emerging from the war effort. The last section covers the later deregulation movement and the development of evidence-based policy.

The second part of the course is devoted to a series of historical case studies focused on the development of policies aimed at tackling poverty, inequality, and discrimination. The use of economics will be explored in specific institutions, in various geographical areas: the central state, imperial power in the colonies, central banks, courtrooms, international organisations, and think tanks.

Economists have also reflected on their practice and created an entire scholarship on intervention itself. The last part of the course will be devoted to the history of the fields of welfare and public economics since the 1930s and the treatment of conflict between the positive and normative approaches in economics.


Hirschman, Daniel & Elizabeth Popp Berman. 2014. “Do Economists Make Policies? On the Political Effects of Economics,” Socio-Economic Review, 12: 779–811.

Morgan, Mary. 2003. “Economics.” In Porter, Theodore M. and Ross, Dorothy (eds.), The Cambridge History of Science Volume 7: The Modern Social Sciences. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, pp. 275—305.

Rodrik, Dani. 2015. Economics Rules. Why Economics Works, When It Fails, and How To Tell The Difference. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.

Metodi didattici

Lectures and class discussion. Depending on the number of students attending the course, class presentations by students on specific topics may also be organized.

There will be two mandatory readings each week consisting of one primary source document and one article or chapter producing a reflexive analysis of the topic.

Modalità di verifica e valutazione dell'apprendimento

The final grade will be based on a policy project (1/2) and a final exam (1/2).

Students will have to work on an individual policy research project that include the writing of a policy brief and a presentation of the document in class.

The final exam will be a two-hours written exam.

The maximum possible score is 30 cum laude, in case all anwers are correct, complete and formally rigorous.

The grade is graduated as follows:

<18 failed
18-23 sufficient
24-27 good
28-30 very good
30 e lode excellent

Students can reject the grade obtained at the exam once. To this end, they must email a request to the instructor within the date set for registration. The instructor will confirm reception of the request within the same date.

Orario di ricevimento

Consulta il sito web di Cleo Faiza Layla Chassonnery Zaigouche