The Economics of Politics

Spring term 2022
Wednesday, 08.15–12.00
11 x 4 hours (3 hours on average)
Location : Pérolles 21, room to be confirmed
ECTS: 4.5




The economics of politics is the application of economic theory to political processes (aka "Political Economics"). In contrast to traditional public economics political actors are assumed to maximize their own utility instead of general social welfare. In recent years this approach has proven to provide valuable insights into policymaking and its resulting economic and social outcomes. In this course students learn to use economics in the context of policymaking and interpret empirical findings. They are introduced to the basic concepts to understand voting and elections, political institutions and their influence on policy outcomes, political actors and their incentives as well as a selection of important topics related to political decision-making such as the influence of the media or corruption, etc.

The course combines the application of basic economic theory with the discussion of empirical research designs to understand real-world mechanisms. Students are expected to prepare the reading assignments before class in order to participate in class discussions and academic discourse.
This course is the natural companion to the course “Public Choice” by Prof. Bruno Jeitziner. The course by Prof. Jeitziner introduces the traditional concepts of political decision-making and fundamental topics such as rent seeking, the bureaucracy, the legislature, interest groups and campaign contributions, or political business cycles. Public Choice or Political Economics are often used as synonyms. The present course is complementary to the topics treated by Prof. Jeitziner with minor overlaps in the presentation of the basic models. The course has a strong emphasis on research design and the application of modern economic and econometric tools.