Economic Policy and the Welfare State

Course content

In this course, students learn about and work with different areas of economic policy related to some of the major challenges facing governments today.


The course focuses on economic policy and the welfare state in Denmark, but in an international comparison and with examples from other developed countries. It covers classic welfare state topics as well as more recent themes and challenges to modern welfare states, focusing especially on the expenditure side of government. The course has an emphasis on recent empirical research on policy issues, and a focus on how to take theory to the data, critically evaluate the validity of empirical designs, and account for policy implications of research results. For each topic, we will look at economic facts and status quo policies in Denmark and elsewhere, work with the theoretical framework and economic reasoning behind, discuss empirical evidence and evaluations of “what works” in terms of policy in that area, and cover views from the public debate.


The course material is a mix of academic articles, handbook chapters, and policy reports from government and other institutions. The aim is for students to get an academic foundation for thinking about different policy questions, but also an understanding of policy in an applied context and as part of the political system and the public debate. By the end of the semester, students should have a good understanding of contemporary economic issues related to the welfare state and public sector in Denmark and other developed countries, be able to think as an economist about these issues, and be able to account for potential challenges, trade-offs, and solutions in an academic way.


Topics covered in the course include:

  • Fiscal planning and sustainability
  • Pension systems and policies
  • Welfare transfers
  • International migration and the welfare state
  • Social insurance and the labor market
  • Public goods and cost-benefit
  • Political economy perspectives on the welfare state

Full-degree students enrolled at the Faculty of Social Science, UCPH 

MSc programme in Economics – elective course

Bacheloruddannelsen i økonomi – valgfag på 3. år

The Danish BSc programme in Economics - elective at the 3rd year


The course is also offered to students at the

- Master Programmes in Political Science

- Master Programme in Social Data Science

- Master Programme in Sociology

Enrolled students register the course through the Selfservice. Please contact the study administration at each programme for questions regarding registration.

Learning outcome

After completing the course the student is expected to be able to:



  • Define the key economic challenges covered in the course and status quo policies related to these challenges in Denmark and other developed countries covered.
  • Account for the economic theoretical background/framework for understanding these challenges.
  • Account for policy solutions related to the economic challenges covered, both the theoretical reasoning and the empirical evidence.



  • Evaluate and discuss contemporary economic challenges facing developed societies.
  • Analyze potential policy solutions and public debate perspectives on these solutions.
  • Discuss policy implications of academic findings.



  • Independently engage in discussions about economic policy and challenges to the welfare state at an academic level.

Lectures with exercies and activities in class.

The syllabus consists of academic articles, handbook chapters, and policy reports specified in a course reading list.

Knowledge about basic economic principles, microeconomics, and empirical methods (econometrics) from similar courses as "Principle of Economics A", "Principle of Economics B", "Microeconomics I", "Microeconomics II" and "Econometrics I" in the Bachelor of Economics, University of Copenhagen.

To students enrolled in the master’s program in Political Science or Social Data Science: The course makes use of bachelor-level knowledge about microeconomics and econometrics as taught in the Economics program at the University of Copenhagen. If students do not have a course background with similar knowledge/content, parts of the syllabus will naturally be more difficult for them to understand and will require more work on their behalf, compared to students from the Economics program. The lecturer is happy to guide students on where to read up on this background knowledge.

2 hour lectures 1 to 2 times a week from week 36 to 50 (except week 42).

The overall schema can be seen at KUnet:
MSc in Economics => "courses and teaching" => "Planning and overview" => "Your timetable"
KA i Økonomi => "Kurser og undervisning" => "Planlægning og overblik" => "Dit skema"

Timetable and venue:
To see the time and location of lectures please press the link under "Timetable"/​"Se skema" at the right side of this page (E means Spring).

You can find the similar information in English at
-Select Department: “2200-Økonomisk Institut” (and wait for respond)
-Select Module:: “2200-E23; [Name of course]”
-Select Report Type: “List – Weekdays”
-Select Period: “Efterår/Autumn”
Press: “ View Timetable”

Please be aware:
- The schedule of the lectures can change without the participants´ acceptance. If this occures, you can see the new schedule in your personal timetable at KUnet, in the app myUCPH and through the links in the right side of this course description and the link above.
- It is the students´s own responsibility continuously throughout the study to stay informed about their study, their teaching, their schedule, their exams etc. through the curriculum of the study programme, the study pages at KUnet, student messages, the course description, the Digital Exam portal, Absalon, the personal schema at KUnet and myUCPH app etc.


The students receive oral collective feedback during the lectures.

7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Written assignment, 6 hours
Type of assessment details
Individual take-home exam. The students are not allowed to communicate about the given problem-set or collaborate on the assignment with anyone. If done so, it will be regarded as cheating.
The exam assignment is in English and must be answered in English.
Exam registration requirements

There are no requirements during the course that the student has to fulfill to be able to sit the exam.

All aids allowed

All aids allowed at the written exams.


Use of AI tools is permitted. You must explain how you have used the tools. When text is solely or mainly generated by an AI tool, the tool used must be quoted as a source.


For further information about allowed aids for the re-examination, please go to the section "Re-exam".

Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship
for the written exam.
An oral re-examination may be with external assessment.
Exam period


Exam information:

More information is available in Digital Exam from the middle of the semester. In special cases decided by the Department, the exam can change to another day and/or time than announced. 


More information about examination, rules, aids etc. at Master (UK), Master (DK) and Bachelor (DK).


The re-exam is a 20 min. oral exam without preparation time.

All aids allowed during the examination.

External assessment. 


Reexam info:

More information in Digital Exam in February. In special cases decided by the Department, the re-sit can change to another day and/or time than announced.


More info: Master(UK), Master(DK), Bachelor(DK).

Criteria for exam assessment

Students are assessed on the extent to which they master the learning outcome for the course.


In order to obtain the top grade “12”, the student must with no or only a few minor weaknesses be able to demonstrate an excellent performance displaying a high level of command of all aspects of the relevant material and can make use of the knowledge, skills and competencies listed in the learning outcomes.


In order to obtain the grade “02”, the student must in a satisfactory way be able to demonstrate a minimal acceptable level of  the knowledge, skills and competencies listed in the learning outcomes.

Single subject courses (day)

  • Category
  • Hours
  • Lectures
  • 42
  • Preparation
  • 152
  • Exam
  • 12
  • English
  • 206


Course number
7,5 ECTS
Programme level
Full Degree Master

1 semester

- Go to 'Signup' for information about registration and enrollment.

Information about admission and tuition fee: Master and Exchange Programme, credit students and guest students (Open University)

and venue:
- For teaching: Go to 'Remarks'.
- For exam and re-sits: Go to 'Exam'.
Department of Economics, Study Council
Contracting department
  • Department of Economics
  • Department of Political Science
  • Social Data Science
  • Department of Sociology
Contracting faculty
  • Faculty of Social Sciences
Course Coordinator
  • Amalie Sofie Jensen   (3-65776e4469677372326f7932686f)

See "Course Coordinators"

Please read "Remarks" regarding the schedule of the teaching.

Saved on the 21-09-2023

Are you BA- or KA-student?

Are you bachelor- or kandidat-student, then find the course in the course catalog for students:

Courseinformation of students