Not available in 2015/16
SA4F7      Half Unit
The Economics of European Social Policy

This information is for the 2015/16 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Joan Costa-Font COW 316


This course is available on the MSc in EU Politics, MSc in European Social Policy, MSc in European Studies (Research), MSc in European Studies: Ideas, Ideologies and Identities, MSc in European Studies: Ideas, Ideologies and Identities (LSE and Sciences Po), MSc in Political Economy of Europe, MSc in Political Science and Political Economy, 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

P Pestieau (2006), The Welfare State in the European Union, OUP.

N Barr (2004), The Economics of the Welfare State, 4th ed., OUP.

Costa-Font, Joan and Courbage, Christophe , (eds.) (2011), Financing long-term care in Europe: institutions, markets and models. Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke, UK.

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

(2011/12, 2013/14 combined)

Classification % of students
Distinction 19.2
Merit 65.4
Pass 13.5
Fail 1.9

Key facts

Department: Social Policy

Total students 2014/15: 27

Average class size 2014/15: 14

Controlled access 2014/15: Yes

Lecture capture used 2014/15: Yes (LT)

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Leadership
  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Problem solving
  • Application of information skills
  • Communication
  • Specialist skills