Structural Policy


Course Objective

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 labor markets, social insurance, pensions,
development, trade, environment and product market competition. Using
problem sets and exercises, along with work on economic data will
increase and deepen understanding and help broaching a large number of
microeconomic policy fields.

Specific learning outcomes upon completion of this course are:
(i) students are able to formulate the economic rationale for policy
intervention in various current economic problems, developed from
insights based on economic theories;
(ii) students are able to evaluate existing and potential policy
options, both in theory and in practice;
(iii) students can apply tools of economic modeling and are able to
interpret economic data;
(iv) students show a critical attitude to existing theoretical and
empirical policy analysis of current economic problems.

Course Content

Structural 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
complementary to short-term macroeconomic stabilization policies.

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.

Current structural economic problems arising in the following fields are
prime candidates to be discussed:
• labor market allocation; labor supply responses to the tax and
transfer system;
• development and trade: analysis of living standards and poverty,
inequality, provision of legal and political frameworks, trade
protection, WTO;
• environment: externalities, property rights, tragedy of the commons,
environmental taxation, climate policy;
• social insurance and social security: disability insurance, moral
hazard, welfare payments, pensions (social security), adverse selection;
• 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.

Teaching Methods


Method of Assessment

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

Entry Requirements

Basic knowledge of math and statistics, as provided in the academic core
of any academic program at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam or equivalent.


Background reference is: Daron Acemoglu, David Laibson and John A. List,
2016, Economics. Harlow, Essex: Pearson Education Ltd. ISBN13:

We further use additional sources from textbooks as well as various
academic papers, details to be announced on Canvas/course manual.

Target Audience

Third-year bachelor students of any major (except Economics and Business
Economics; and Econometrics).

Additional Information

This course is an integral part of the University Minor Economics;
participants gain strongly from attending the entire minor program.
This course prepares for Applications in Economic Policy, and has
intersections with the course Business Cycles and Stabilization Policy.

Recommended background knowledge

The course builds on previous courses in the Minor Economics program, in
particular, Foundations of Microeconomics. Familiarity with contents of
that course is assumed. Familiarity includes a working knowledge of how
to apply economic models in context and how to select and use
appropriate graphical tools of analysis.

General Information

Course Code E_ME_SP
Credits 6 EC
Period P2
Course Level 300
Language of Tuition English
Faculty School of Business and Economics
Course Coordinator dr. S. Hochguertel
Examiner dr. S. Hochguertel
Teaching Staff

Practical Information

You need to register for this course yourself

Last-minute registration is available for this course.

Teaching Methods Seminar, Lecture
Target audiences

This course is also available as: