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Public Policy (MSc Economics)

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In the Public Policy track in Economics you learn how to apply the latest economic theory and research methods to help governments intervene in the economy. This track is 1 of 6 tracks you can opt for in our Master's in Economics.

Understanding the role of government in the economy

In all economies around the world, government plays key roles. Most Western countries rely on markets and competition for the organisation of economic activity, but always within an extensive institutional context with laws, regulations and government interventions. We witnessed the importance of good government in the COVID-19 crisis, during the financial crisis of 2008, and in the need to deal with challenges such as climate change, income inequality, and the pressures of immigration, to name a few. Governments are struggling with the impact these developments have on their economies. Yet they can benefit from economics in the design of their policy responses.

Why choose the Public Policy track?

  1. Beside the 3 general courses of the MSc Economics in your curriculum, you will take 3 courses with focus on the struggles of government with the impact of financial challenges on the economy.
  2. You will learn from professors and experts working in a wide range of economic organisations and fields. Therefore, you have access to up-to-date cases and learnings from the field of public policy.
  3. After graduation, you have an excellent job prospect at e.g. bureaus for policy making, or national ministries.
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Track-specific courses

Apart from the 3 general courses of the full programme, you will follow 3 track-specific courses.

  • Public Economics

    In this course you will discuss topics related to public decision-making processes and policies with a focus on inequality and redistribution.

    How do individual preferences translate into collective decisions? Also you will investigate redistributive policies, with a central role for the trade-off between efficiency and equality.

    Throughout the course you will discuss the latest scientific results and current debates on hot topics such as a universal basic income.

  • Policy Evaluation: Development and Public Policy

    This course introduces you to contemporary methods of policy evaluation. You will study their applications related to topics such as education, health, nutrition, crime, microfinance, gender and labour issues. You will read and prepare papers in order to explain important aspects of these papers during the weekly meetings.

  • Industrial Organisation & Regulation

    In this course you will deep-dive in the monopoly and oligopoly. How may a monopolist price discriminate and deter entry by competitors? Concerning oligopolies you will cover different types of rivalry, product differentiation, collusion, mergers, vertical relations and platform competition. And: how do firms respond to boundedly rational consumers?


In the 4th block of your Master's, you will be able to specialise in either fiscal policy and human development, or the more market regulation-oriented competition policy and natural resource economics.

  • Public Finance and Fiscal Policy

    Get introduced to theory and empirics of fiscal policy and public finance. You will look at these subjects both from a short-run perspective (the business cycle) and the long-run perspective (sustainability and the intergenerational dimension).

    You will learn how to apply different fiscal policy models and how to estimate policies. Topics you will cover:  

    • Population ageing and long run sustainability of public finances 
    • Tax smoothing 
    • Intergenerational aspects of fiscal policy 
    • EU debt crisis and EU fiscal framework 
    • Theory and empirics of cyclical fiscal policy 
    • Recente policy cases depending on what is topical at the moment of the course
  • Competition Policy

    Competition policy is at the centre stage of day-to-day economic life. Consideration for the likely warnings of competition authorities are therefore an important concern in business strategies. Why and to what extent does society need rules restricting the behaviour of firms in markets? And how do these rules affect our economies?

Real-life case: information for intervention

Even when well-intended, not all policy interventions have been successful. Some have even failed miserably. How does economics provide governments information for intervention? How can a policy adviser identify which policies may actually work? Learn about current debates and how to formulate your own position using modern research methods from applied econometrics, industrial organisation and microeconomic theory.

Contemporary issues

Examples of current newspaper headlines and contemporary issues that could be discussed in your classroom.

  • Why couldn’t competitive markets resolve basic scarcity problems in the emerging pandemic? The case of PPEs.
  • How to restructure BigTech platforms in order to isolate and control their market power? Smart cuts.
  • Why has income and wealth inequality exploded over the past decades and can taxation help reducing it? Taxing the top 1%.
  • Why are unregulated markets generating excessive pollution and which public policies can help reducing it? The Dutch ban on sales of single-use plastics. 
  • Why does no alternative to Facebook develop that commits to not harvest users data? The Digital Markets Act.
  • What is the rationale behind mandatory public health insurance? The 2014 US regulation forbidding private insurances to deny coverage on the base of pre-existing conditions.

Career prospects

Graduates of the Master's programme in Economics/Public Policy track have excellent job prospects for positions as researchers, experts and policy advisors at:

  • Specialised top consulting firms and think-tanks
  • Multinational corporations, commercial banks
  • European Commission, National ministries and governmental agencies (competition authorities, ministries of finance and economic affairs, economic forecasting agencies, statistical agencies)
  • NGOs and international organisations such as OECD and United Nations
  • Academia, investigative journalism
Facts & Figures
Degree programme MSc Economics
Mode Full-time
Credits 60 ECTS, 12 months
Language of instruction English
Starts in September
CROHO code 66401
Location Roeterseiland campus