Topics in Political Economy

Università della Svizzera Italiana, 2011 - 2012

The goal of the course is to discuss current topics in political economics, both from a theoretical and from an empirical perspective. This means to study the formation of economic policy from a positive, rather than a normative, point of view. Thus, we will address questions such as: What are the political and institutional determinants of fiscal and economic policy in modern democracies? Which features of political institutions are more likely to foster economic development? Why are seemingly inefficient public policies preserved over time, and what can be done to overcome opposition to reform? Is the quality of politicians relevant for economic outcomes, and - if yes - how can we improve political selection? What institutional, monetary and social factors influence the behavior of elected officials? How do voters respond to information provided by the media and by political candidates? We will also discuss issues related to the role of institutions and culture in affecting policy making.