SA4F7      Half Unit
The Economics of European Social Policy

This information is for the 2013/14 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Joan Costa-Font COW 316


This course is available on the MSc in European Social Policy, MSc in European Studies (Research), MSc in European Studies: Ideas and Identities, MSc in European Studies: Ideas and Identities (LSE and Sciences Po), MSc in Political Economy of Europe, MSc in Political Science and Political Economy, MSc in Politics and Government in the European Union, MSc in Public Management and Governance, MSc in Social Policy (European and Comparative Social Policy), MSc in Social Policy (Research), MSc in Social Policy (Social Policy and Planning), MSc in Social Policy and Development, MSc in Social Policy and Development: Non-Governmental Organisations and MSc in Social Policy and Planning. This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

This is a capped course. Students are required to register for this course on LSE for You and obtain permission from the European Institute to take this course.


Introductory economics is helpful.

Course content

This course attempts to apply economics to examine and evaluate social policies and problems in Europe. The course addresses the main goals for social intervention including poverty relief, inequality, efficiency and accountability. Students will acquire an understanding of the economic theory underpinning the analysis of social policy in the areas of health, education, long-term care, pension, housing, employment, family and housing policy. The course will provide an analysis of social and public insurance underpinning the financing of welfare states. Students will be asked to apply the economic principles to examples of cross- country reform in Europe. The course will address key questions on social policy intervention, inequality, poverty, tax financing v social insurance, longevity risks and pensions, long term care insurance, financing housing, family policy and wealth accumulation.


10 x 1 hour lectures and 10 x 1.5 hour seminars, LT. 1 x 1 hour revision lecture (ST).

Formative coursework

Two 2,000 word essays.

Indicative reading

A. B. Atkinson (1999), The Economic Consequences of Rolling Back the Welfare State, London and Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press; Smith, S, Le Grand J and Propper, C (2008). The Economics of Social Problems. 4th edition. Palgrave; N Barr (2004), The Economics of the Welfare State, 4th ed., OUP; Costa-Font, Joan, Courbage, Christophe and McGuire, Alistair, (eds.) (2009) The economics of new health technologies. Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK.


Exam (100%, duration: 2 hours) in the main exam period.

Student performance results

(2009/10 - 2011/12 combined)

Classification % of students
Distinction 12.9
Merit 71
Pass 16.1
Fail 0

Key facts

Department: Social Policy

Total students 2012/13: Unavailable

Average class size 2012/13: Unavailable

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information