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Political Economics - ECO00027H

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  • Department: Economics and Related Studies
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Andrew Pickering
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: H
  • Academic year of delivery: 2022-23

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching cycle
A Autumn Term 2022-23 to Spring Term 2022-23

Module aims

The aim is to show how the quantitative toolkit of the modern economist can be used to analyse political decisions and outcomes. This toolkit will be used to analyse the following questions:

  • How much redistribution will there be in a democracy, and will it be universal or targeted?
  • Does democracy guarantee economics efficiency?
  • What is the optimal level of public debt, and why are observed debt levels so different from this?
  • What determines the level of corruption, and how can political institutions reduce it?
  • Why do dictatorships last so long?
  • What are the conditions that guarantee free and fair elections?

Module learning outcomes

Students will gain a deeper insight into how empirical data may be used to support, or reject particular hypotheses.
Students will also learn a number of key insights developed in this field:

  • The Meltzer and Richard (1981) model of redistribution in a democracy.
  • The work of Persson and Tabellini (2000) and (2003) on how political constitutions shape redistribution and the provision of public goods.
  • The Alesina and Tabellini (1990) model of strategic debt accumulation.
  • Models of probabilistic voting and how imperfect information can permit corruption.
  • The literature on the role of institutions on economic performance developed by Acemoglu and Robinson (2001).


Task Length % of module mark
Political Economics (I)
N/A 50
Political Economics (II)
N/A 50

Special assessment rules



Task Length % of module mark
Political Economics (I)
N/A 50
Political Economics (II)
N/A 50

Module feedback

Students will receive formative feedback through seminar work and summative feedback on the final assessment.

Indicative reading

  • Alesina, Alberto, and Guido Tabellini (1990). A Positive Theory of Fiscal Deficits and Government Debt. Review of Economic Studies 57(3): 403-414.
  • Meltzer, Allan, and Scott Richard (1981). A Rational Theory of the Size of Government. Journal of Political Economy 89(5): 914-927.
  • Persson, Torsten, and Guido Tabellini (2000). Political Economics, MIT Press.
  • Persson, Torsten, and Guido Tabellini (2003). The Economic Effects of Constitutions. MIT Press.

The module will also extensively refer to recent academic literature in this growing field.

The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.