Choices, Inequality and Welfare

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

Course Description

  • Course Name

    Choices, Inequality and Welfare

  • Host University

    Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

  • Location

    Amsterdam, The Netherlands

  • Area of Study

    Economics, Sociology

  • Language Level

    Taught In English

  • Course Level Recommendations


    ISA offers course level recommendations in an effort to facilitate the determination of course levels by credential evaluators.We advice each institution to have their own credentials evaluator make the final decision regrading course levels.

    Hours & Credits

  • ECTS Credits

  • Recommended U.S. Semester Credits
  • Recommended U.S. Quarter Units
  • Overview

    Choices, inequalities and welfare pursues a clear microeconomic policy approach. The objective of this course is to identify, justify, analyze
    and evaluate policy options to various current economic problems, including issues in the fields of poverty and inequality, trade, climate
    and environment, labor markets and social insurance, as well as competition policy for and regulation of product markets. Using problem
    sets along with work on empirical economic data will increase and deepen understanding and help broach a large number of applied policy fields.

    We pursue two types of learning outcomes:

    After successfully completing the course Choices, Inequality and Welfare, you are able:
    - to formulate the economic rationale for policy intervention in various current economic problems;
    - to develop policy options from economic theories;
    - to apply tools of theoretical and empirical economic modeling;
    - to interpret economic data.

    After successfully completing the course Choices, Inequality and Welfare, you are able:
    - to discuss the role of economic policy in the context of both market failures and government objectives to adjust market outcomes;
    - to evaluate existing and potential policy options, both in theory and in practice;
    - to show a critical attitude to existing theoretical and empirical policy analyses of current economic problems.

    This course is geared at understanding the role of government policy from a predominantly microeconomic perspective. Not only will
    individual actors make choices that influence their own welfare, but government may pursue maximization of welfare for society as a whole. This course discusses the role of economic policy in the context of both market failures and government objectives to adjust market outcomes, including distributional aspects (inequality).

    Microeconomic policy is on top of the agenda when it comes to keeping individual countries on the path to stability and growth. Microeconomic structural reforms (say, in labor and product markets, social security and welfare systems) are often seen as long-run policy measures, geared at structural and sustainable solutions, and are complementary to short-term macroeconomic stabilization policies.

    Current structural economic problems arising in the following fields are prime candidates to be discussed:
    • taking into account the trade-off between efficiency and equity when formulating policy goals in an interconnected world;
    • measuring inequality of incomes and the role of distributional policy;
    • development and trade: analysis of living standards and poverty, provision of legal and political frameworks, trade protection, WTO;
    • environment: externalities from pollution, regulation and tax solutions; public goods and free rider behavior; climate policy challenges and trade effects;
    • labor market allocation; labor supply responses to the tax and transfer system;
    • social insurance and asymmetric information: disability insurance, moral hazard, welfare payments;
    • competition policy and regulation: imperfect competition, market power, cartels, price-discrimination, regulation and de-regulation.

    During the course, both theoretical and empirical economic work in policy context is discussed.


    Course grade is average of problem sets (30%) and written examination (70%), with written exam grade of at least 5.0.

    We require basic knowledge of mathematics (differential calculus; high school level) and statistics,

Course Disclaimer

Courses and course hours of instruction are subject to change.

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