TrainingsMasterEconomicsCoursesPolitical economy

Master EconomicsUE Political economy


This course provides a graduate-level introduction to political economy, with a focus on the functioning of institutions and their impact on development and politics. The first part of the course deals with the building of states, institutional change and conflicts. The second part covers topics in democratic politics such as voting and electoral competition and electoral control, collective action and the links between politics and the media. Both theories and empirical works will be covered. By the end of the course, students will have an understanding of how institutions, power and economic outcomes interact with each other, and will be familiar with frontier research in this area.

Course outline

Lecture 1 : State building and state capacity

Weak states – Institution building and inequality – historical origin of institutions

Lecture 2 : Institutional change

Regime transition – Radical political change – Revolutions – Corruption

Lecture 3 : Civil war

War inefficiency – Ethnic conflicts – Natural resources – Economic causes of conflict

Lecture 4 : Voting and electoral competition

Models of voting – Lobbying and special interest

Lecture 5 : Political agency and electoral control

Government quality – Clientelism – Bureaucracies

Lecture 6 : Politics and the media

Media capture – Media bias

Professional skills

The questions discussed in this course constitute an increasingly important subfield of economics. Both recent theoretical advances and cutting-edge empirical approaches will be covered. An objective of the course is to provide students with adequate technical background and knowledge of existing literature to critically think about the link between development, institutions and politics, as well as to produce original research work on these topics.

Language used

Main language used by this course: Anglais.


Reference handbooks :

  • Acemoglu, Daron and James A. Robinson, 2006, Economic Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy, Cambridge MA : Cambridge University Press.
  • Persson, Torsten, and Guido Tabellini, 2002, Political Economics : Explaining Economic Policy, Cambridge MA : MIT Press.
  • North, Douglass, 1990, Institutions, Institutional Change and Economic Performance, Cambridge : Cambridge University Press.
  • Besley, Timothy, 2006, Principled Agents ? The Political Economy of Good Government, Oxford University Press

Fundamental prerequisites

The course assumes knowledge of basic micro theory, game theory and econometrics.

Recommended prerequisites

State, conflict, institutions, democracy, voting.

Structure and organisation

Lectures and problem sets.

Volume of teachings

  • Lectures: 24 hours

The trainings which use this course