Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore

Public and Political Economics

The Public and Political Economics group associates economists interested in stimulating and providing a focus for a first class research in the general area of public and political economics. The group aims to act as a catalyst for researchers widely working  on these fields in the Faculties of Bicocca University and Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore (Milano) and also encourages collaborative research among and between Faculties members and research students and with the wider academic community. Particular importance is attached to the development of the research interests and activities of younger Faculties members and research students. Most of the members of the group also belong to CIFREL, an Research Center in Public Economics that coordinates many universities in Northern Italy.

Members of the group have published their works on the most prestigious journals in the profession (such as American Economic Review, Journal of Public Economics, Economic Theory, Games and Economic Behavior).
Below we first list the members of the research group. We then present a list of specific research topic in which group members are active.

Research Topics

Voting Theory  Voting theory focuses on the formal study of voting rules (both in committees and general elections) by means of non cooperative game theory. The major aim is to build theories capable to analyze the behaviour of "rational" agents involved in an election.

Positive Political Economy and Policy Agency Models Political Economy focuses on the study of the application of economic analysis to political institutions by the methods of competitive behaviour developed in economics. The main goal is to build positive models capable to analyze the behaviour of the agents involved in the determination of the national policy.

Conflict Theory This research program aims to understand the root of social conflicts considering rational agents in strategic context. Different public goods may affect in different ways the social welfare and the likelihood of conflicts.

Antitrust Analysis Antitrust Analysis draws on the literature of industrial organization to provide a strong economic basis to the design of a crucial institution of market economies. The main goal is to guarantee that free market behaviour may lead to efficient social equilibria even under imperfectly competitive markets.

Fiscal federalism The theory of fiscal federalism examines both normatively and positively the performance of decentralized systems in which governments are subject to fiscal and political incentives. Members of the group have large experience in working with data on local government, in particular in Italy.

Regulation of public utility markets Regulation and market architecture applied to recently liberalised/privatised industries such as electricity, railways and telecommunications. Auction theory applied to wholesale electricity markets. Empirical analysis of bidding behaviour and efficiency results.

 Institutional Aspect of EU Organization The EU provides an interesting, albeit little studied, field for both economic and political analysis. Previous work in this field in the group has analyzed the legitimacy of European institutions such as the European Parliament and specific institutional features such as Enhanced Cooperation Agreements.

Optimal taxation The Mirrleesian theory of optimal taxation concerns how various forms of taxation should be designed to maximize social welfare in an economic environment populated by heterogeneous agents.

Secession Theory Traditionally, economists have taken the borders of national states as given. But as a matter of fact recent years have witnessed both process of unification, with the formation of supranational unions or federations, and process of division inside preexisting countries. This topic studies the economic and political incentives for the separation or the unification of countries.

Tax Evasion The theoretical and empirical analysis of the determinants and of the impact of tax evasion at national and regional level.

Political Economy of News Media (or Mass Media) The political economy of media focuses on the theoretical and empirical analysis of: i) The effects of news media on political and public policy outcomes; ii) The presence and the drivers of the distortions observed in the market for news; iii) The scope for public intervention in the market for news; iv) The role of new types of news media (e.g., blogs, news aggregators, social media) that emerged from the creation and diffusion of the Internet.

Health Economics Efficiency analysis in the production of health services by hospital units. Models of interaction between doctors and patients. Optimal pricing of pharmaceutical drugs. Issue in the sustainability and financing of health services, both at the aggregate and local level.

Targeted policies: redistributive effects and political economy issues To analyze if  targeting and means testing improve the redistributive effect of public policies  and increase their efficiency,  respectively. And to appraise the political economy mechanism that drive majority  voting on the provision of in-kind transfers and the on the design of targeted policies.

Experiments on Public and Political Economics  Lab experiments are used to test the main theoretical findings of several researches. Currently, a research project is on tax saliency, with reference to wealth taxes and income taxes.

Comparative Political Economy Different electoral systems analyzed focusing on informational structure available to politicians and voters.

Presentation of the Research Group