SECS-P/03 - 9 CFU - 1° Semester

Teaching Staff


Learning Objectives

In recent years, the need for a rigorous evaluation of the effectiveness of public policy interventions and for a correct analysis of the social costs and benefits of public investments has grown consistently. The course aims to introduce students to the analysis of the main quantitative approaches to the economic evaluation of public policies and programs, and to provide them with the necessary tools for this purpose. In particular, students will acquire critical awareness of the role of economic evaluation in the decision-making process of public bodies and of the strengths and weaknesses that characterize the different methodologies adopted at international level for evaluation (ex ante, in itinere and ex post ) of projects and public policies.

Course Structure

The course includes lectures, carried out with the support of slides and supplementary teaching material that will be made available to students through the Studium platform. During all the lectures some examples from real case studies will be discussed as well as practical tutorials will be held on the use of appropiriate software (excel, etc.) for carrying out economic analyses of public investments. Should teaching be carried out in mixed mode or remotely, it may be necessary to introduce changes with respect to previous statements, in line with the programme planned and outlined in the syllabus.

Detailed Course Content

The course is ideally structured in two parts. In the first part, after considering the different definitions of evaluation and examining the role of economic evaluation in the decision-making process of public sector entities, the tools of cost-benefit analysis and its alternatives will be studied in the light of the latest national and international experiences. Topics of this first part of the program will be: definition of economic evaluation and its role in the decision-making process of public sector entities, elements of Economic Theory of Welfare and tools for measuring surplus, cost-benefit analysis and selection criteria, methodologies for evaluation of non-market goods, social discounting rate, treatment of uncertainty and risk, distributional issues in cost-benefit analysis, cost-benefit analysis in the context of the Structural Funds of the European Union, economic evaluation of projects and sustainable development, alternatives to cost-benefit analysis (cost effectiveness, cost utility and multi-criteria analyses). In the second part of the course, issues relating to the impact evaluation of public policies will be explored. Topics of the last part of the course will be: introduction to public policy impact analysis, counterfactual logic and application difficulties, experimental method, non-experimental methods and the difference-in-differences method, uses of regression analysis,discontinuity around the threshold, Interrupted time series analysis, beneficiary surveys, definition and measures of the evaluation quality.

Textbook Information

1. Momigliano S. e Giovannetti Nuti F., La valutazione dei costi e dei benefici nell'analisi di impatto della regolazione, Rubettino, 2001.

2. Commissione Europea, Guida all'analisi costi-benefici dei progetti d'investimento - Strumento di valutazione economica per la politica di coesione 2014-2020, 2014 (available at:

3. Martini A.e Sisti M., "A ciascuno il suo. Cinque modi di intendere la valutazione in ambito pubblico", Informaires, n.33, Dicembre 2007, pp. 1-9.

4. Florio M. “Apologia di un economista”, FrancoAngeli, 2020 (available at:

5. Florio, M., Morretta, V., and Willak, W. “Cost-Benefit Analysis and European Union Cohesion Policy: Economic Versus Financial Returns in Investment Project Appraisal.” Journal of Benefit-Cost Analysis, 9(1): 147–80, 2018.

6. Commissione Europea, Commission Notice – Technical guidance on sustainability proofing for the InvestEU Fund, 2021 (available at:

7. Martini A. e Sisti M., Valutare il successo delle politiche pubbliche, il Mulino, Bologna, 2009. (Chapters 1, 6,7,8,9,10,12,14,15)

8. Martini A., 2009, How Counterfactuals got lost in the way to Brussels, Evaluation des politiques publiques en Europe : cultures et futurs, a cura di Annie Fouquet, 2009. ( a draft version presented at the Symposium “Policy and program evaluation in Europe: cultures and prospects”, Strasbourg, July 3-4, 2008 is available at:

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