Economics, economic policy, and social justice

A.Y. 2021/2022
Overall hours
Learning objectives
The course aims at offering an institutionalist approach to economics and economic policy. Concepts and models of modern microeconomics are presented as fruitful tools for answering the general question about the appropriate institutional mechanisms of collective choice and implementation of sustainable development, its values and goals, and the demands for social justice, which are inherent in it.
Therefore, the main objective of the course is to furnish participants conceptual tools for understanding whether competitive market economies are the proper institutional framework in which socially and economically desirable outcomes can be achieved, or alternative institutional arrangements are also required. So that - beyond the neoclassical theory of general equilibrium of competitive markets - the collective decision models that operationalize alternative views of distributive justice - like as utilitarianism, contractarianism, and the ideas of justice as fairness, and that based on functionings and capabilities - will be presented with analytic precision. Beyond the typical theoretical models of neoclassical microeconomics and social choice theory, the course introduces at elementary level, concepts and solutions of game theory, which are necessary to understand strategic interactions, and the normative and positive problems of economic policy, like as the equilibrium conditions under which desirable institutions (supportive of social welfare and fairness) can be implemented .
Expected learning outcomes
At the end of the course, students will be enabled to use economic methodology in order to assess what institutions and organizations are functional to pursue the objectives of sustainable development. They will develop a critical attitude toward the ideological economic justification of market societies, but also the ability to assess the intellectual basis of the economists' claim to be able of offering a general view of social institutions based on rational behaviour. Hence, the student will be endowed with basic analytical tools of microeconomics, social choice theory and game theory that allow her/him to understand what institutions may satisfy at the same time the principles of efficiency, equity, self-enforceability and stability. As far as social justice, and the economic policies aimed to fighting unacceptable inequalities, are basic components of the objectives of sustainable development, students will be enabled to see within the perspective of economics, how global, national and local institutions should be designed in order satisfy the requirement of social justice. At the same time, they will be put in the condition of understanding how such institutions and organizations can be accepted through rational individual and collective decisions and correspond to rule of behaviour that may emerge from strategic interaction and display equilibrium properties.
Course syllabus and organization

Single session

Lesson period
Second semester
SECS-P/02 - ECONOMIC POLICY - University credits: 9
Lessons: 63 hours
Professor: Sacconi Lorenzo