PhD in Economics and Quantitative Methods

The PhD program in Economics and Quantitative Methods aims to provide PhD students with the theoretical and analytical instruments that allow them to understand economics facts, propose theoretical models, and conduct empirical analysis at the frontier of economic research. Such instruments are acquired through the attendance of advanced courses, workshops, summer/winter school, and seminars organized by the PhD scientific board, by the Department, and by other academic institutions and research centers. Moreover, visiting periods at foreign departments contribute to complete students training in specific fields of interest.

Learning objectives

The PhD program offers a training on the main economic theories, also with an historical perspective, at an advanced level. Particular emphasis is given to the acquisition of quantitative tools necessary for conducting theoretical and empirical research and to the knowledge of the most common useful software.  
All courses are taught in English and include:

  • Econometrics
  • Mathematics for economics
  • Macroeconomics
  • Microeconomics
  • Political Economy
  • Game theory
  • Applied Economics
  • Statistics
  • Economic History
  • History of economic thought
  • Behavioral economics

Career perspectives

The PhD program trains professional profiles able to conduct research activity within academic departments, private and public research centers, consultancy firms, national and international institutions that advise government activities and in public and private organizations requiring advanced economic expertise.


The PhD program covers a period of three years, starting in November of each academic year.  
Admission exams are held in July of the previous academic year (all details are found in the official call on the University of Genova website).  

During the first year, students are required to attend seminars and specific advanced courses.  
Moreover, each year short intensive courses on specific topics are offered in order to enlarge the knowledge of research tools. The attendance of summer/winter school is encouraged and funded by the program, within the limits imposed by available resources  
Within the end of the first year, students choose a research field of interest and two supervisors. One supervisor needs to belong to the PhD scientific board while the second one may be external. On the basis of results obtained during the first year, English students are admitted to the second year of the program.  

During the second year, students attend seminars organized by the program and start their research activity, which will be partially carried out at foreign universities, with permission of the scientific board and with extra founds provided by the University.  
Towards the end of the second year, students present their work in progress before the PhD scientific board that deliberate their admission to the third year of the program on the basis of the quality of their research.  

During the third year of the program, students carry on their research and are encouraged to attend international scientific congress with funding provided by the program, within the limits imposed by available resources. The conclusion of the PhD dissertation is due at the end of the third year and the PhD in Economics is awarded upon the successfully completion of the thesis defence (viva) in front of a commission of three experts in the field of the dissertation.

Before enrolling, please download the PhD UniGe Rules.

Courses Syllabi

Economic History and History of Economic Thought  
The module of Economic History provides an introduction to the study of economic systems and economic phenomena of the past, focusing on major theoretical and methodological issues in economic history. The most important analytic tools and the main problems concerning the use of sources in economic history will be examined, as well as the implications in historical analysis of concepts derived from economic disciplines.  
The module of History of economic thought focuses on the following topics:

  • Classical political economy and the "surplus approach": Physiocrats, Smith, Ricardo Marx
  • The birth of the "supply and demand" alternative approach: J. B. Say
  • The rise to dominance of the marginalist approach: Jevons, Menger, Walras
  • Sraffa, the modern reappraisal to the "surplus approach" and its implications

References: Landreth, H. & Colander, D. C., History of Economic Thought, South-Western College Publ., 4th ed., 2001; Garegnani P., “Notes on consumption, investment and effective demand”, CJE 1978-79; Garegnani P., “Value and distribution in the Classical economists and Marx”, OEP 1984; Sraffa P., “Production of commodities by means of commodities”, CUP, 1975; The Theory of Value and Distribution in Economics, H. Kurz (ed), Routledge 2016; Keynes, Sraffa and the Criticism of Neoclassical Theory, N. Salvadori 6 C. Gehrke (eds.), Routledge 2011.

The course provides a survey of the theory and application of time series models.  
The main topics are:

  •  Linear Time Series Analysis
    • Stochastic processes, covariance stationarity, strict stationarity, unit root processes, fractionally integrated processes, Wold decomposition theorem
    • Introduction to spectral analysis: Fourier transforms, Spectrum of a time series process, rate of decay of the spectrum for short and long memory processes
    • Arma, Arima, Arfima univariate models: estimation and principles of forecasting
    • Unit root tests, long memory tests, cointegration, model diagnostic
  • Univariate Garch Models
    • Stylized facts of asset returns
    • Arch model: identification and covariance stationarity conditions, order identification, estimation, evaluation
    • Garch model: identification and covariance stationarity conditions, order identification, estimation, evaluation and forecasting
    • Asymmetric Garch models and leverage effects: Egarch, Qgarch, Gjgarch, Tgarch: identification and covariance stationarity conditions, order identification, estimation, evaluation and forecasting
    • Long memory in univariate Garch models: testing for long memory in the time series domain, forecasting in presence of long memory
  • Multivariate Garch Models
    • Co-movements of financial returns: empirical and theoretical examples. Introduction to MGARCH models and specific issues
    • VEC and BEKK models: dimensionality issues, conditions for positive definiteness, iterative procedures for estimation
    • Factor Models
    • CCC models: dimensionality issues, conditions for positive definiteness, iterative procedures for estimation
    • Non-parametric models
    • Testing in Mgarch models
  •  Applications
    • Option pricing
    • Asset allocation
    • Value at risk

References: Hamilton, “Time Series Analysis”, Princeton University Press; Francq, Zakoian “GARCH Models”, Wiley.

Mathematics for economics  
The course provides students with the basic mathematical tools necessary for understanding economic theory.  
The main topics are:

  • Euclidean spaces
  • Matrix Algebra: fundamental operations; eigenvalues and eigenvectors
  • Linear Independence
  • Functions of several variables
  • Calculus of several variables
  • Unconstrained optimization
  • Constrained optimization: the Lagrange method
  • Constrained optimization: the Kuhn Tucker method
  • Ordinary differential and difference equations: the scalar case
  • Introduction to dynamic optimization

References: Simon C. and Bloom L, “Mathematics for Economics”, Norton & Company.

The main topics covered by the course will be the following:

  • Economic growth
    • The Solow model
    • The Ramsey model
    • Overlapping generations models
  • Real rigidities and labor market institutions
    • The Competitive Model of the Labour Market: A Tale of Demand and Supply
    • Efficiency Wages: Adverse Selection: The Role of the Solow Condition; Moral Hazard: The Shirking Model
    • The Insider-Outsider Theory of Employment and Unemployment: Wage and Employment Determination in a Dynamic Insider-Outsider Model
    • Implicit Contracts
    • Hiring and Firing Costs: A Dynamic Model of the Labour Market
    • The Search and Matching Model
  • Monetary policy
    • The theory of transmission mechanism in monetary policy: Money growth, interest rates, and expected inflation in the absence of nominal rigidity; The term structure of interest rates
    • Empirical evidence: The empirical evidence of the quantity theory of money; the information conveyed by monetary aggregates
    • Dynamic inconsistency of monetary policy: A simple model of dynamic inconsistency: commitment and discretional solutions; Remedies to dynamic inconsistency: rules rather than discretion; conservative central bankers; A reputational model of monetary policy
    • The role of money in macroeconomic models and the implication for monetary policy

References: David Romer “Advanced Macroeconomics” McGraw Hill.

The main topics covered by the course will be the following:

  • Firm theory
    • Technology and costs
    • The Optimization Problem
    • The short-run and the long run
    • The multiproduct firm
    • The firm and the market
  • Monopoly theory, price discrimination, and natural monopoly
  • Oligopoly theory
    • Duopoly theory (one-shot games)
    • Collusive oligopoly (repeated games)
    • Market entry (sequential games)
  • Consumption Theory
    • Preferences and Utility function
    • Consumer’s demand function
    • Slutsky's decomposition
    • Indirect utility function
    • Expenditure function
  • Information theory
    • Incomplete contracts, risk aversion, and lotteries: Uncertainty and Von Neumann-Morgenstern utility functions; Risk attitude measures (coefficient of absolute risk aversion – CARA; coefficient of relative risk aversion – CRRA); Utility and lotteries (risk premium, certainty equivalent, expected value)
    • Information asymmetries and principal-agent theory; participation constraint and incentive-compatible constraints
    • Signaling: Credible signals; Equilibrium analysis and principal/ agent risk attitude
    • Equilibria in inefficient markets: Insurance market and the Rothschild & Stiglitz model
  • Market failures and welfare economics
    • External Effects in Consumption and Production
    • Interdependent Utility functions
    • Public Goods
    • Social welfare function
  • Fiscal federalism
    • The modeling dimensions
    • Mobility and redistribution
    • Federalist system of Governments
References: Frank Cowell, Microeconomics, Principles and Analysis, Oxford University Press; H. Gravelle and R. Rees, Microeconomics, Prentice Hall.  
Political Economy
The course is a relatively advanced but essentially self-contained introduction to the methods and some major applications of modern political economy.  
The main topics covered by the course in chronological order, will be the following:
  • Electoral Competition under Certainty: The Hotelling-Downs Model; The Wittman Model; Multiparty Competition; Entry
  • Electoral Competition under Uncertainty: Multidimensional Policy Conflict; Divergence; Multiparty Competition; Entry; The Calculus of Voting
  • Special Interest Politics: A Model of Pure Campaign Finance; Campaign Finance and Policy Choice; Informative Campaign Finance; Bargaining over Policy; Menu Auctions
  • Veto Players; Policy Stability; Agenda Setting; Pivots; Portfolio Allocation; Veto Players and Special Interests
  • Delegation: Baseline Model; Discretion Limits; Legislative Capacity; Bureaucratic Capacity; Administrative Procedures; Legislative Override; Delegation to Committees and Legislative Procedure
  • Coalitions: Legislative Bargaining; Cohesion; Government Formation; Endogenous Supermajorities; Selectorate
  • Political Agency: The Barro-Ferejohn Model; Career Concerns; Signaling Models of Political Agency
  • Regime Change: Collective Action under Complete Information; Collective Action under Incomplete Information; Markov Games; Political Transitions

References: Scott Gehlbach, Formal Models of Domestic Politics, Cambridge UP; Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson, Economic Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy, Cambridge UP; Nolan McCarty and Adam Meirowitz, Political Game Theory: An Introduction, Cambridge UP.

Game Theory

  • Non-cooperative games
    • Games basic tools and definitions
    • Finding games solutions
    • Dominance and Nash equilibrium
    • Mixed strategies Nash equilibrium
    • Inefficiency and instability of Nash equilibrium
    • Correlated Strategies and correlated equilibrium
    • Information: perfect, imperfect, incomplete
  • Duopoly
    • Cournot, Bertrand, Stackelberg models
    • Best-reply
    • Hotelling, Morgan and Shy, models
  • Auctions
    • Definitions
    • Equivalence
    • Auction strategies
    • Winner's curse
    • Bidding rings
    • Multiple auctions
  • Non-cooperative games: Non Transferable Utility games
    • Barganing problem between two players
    • Nash solution
    • Alternative solutions
  • Non-cooperative games: Transferable Utility games
    • Shapley value and axioms
    • Shapley value application
    • Banzhaf-Coleman index
    • Normalized Banzhaf-Coleman index
    • Deegan-Packel index
    • Public Goods Index-Holler
    • Johnston index
    • Nucleolus (Schmeidler)
  • Examples
    • Assigment game
    • Bankruptcy game
    • Weighted majority game
    • Sequencing game
    • Production game

References: R. Gibbons, Primo Corso di Teoria dei Giochi, Il Mulino; R.B. Myerson, Game Theory: Analysis of Conflict, Harvard University Press; M.J. Osborne, A. Rubinstein, A Course in Game Theory, MIT Press; G. Owen, Game Theory, Academic Press; Luce, R. Duncan e Howard Raiffa: Games and Decisions, Wiley, New York.


Tel: + 39 010 209 5082  

Head of program: Claudio Antonio Giuseppe Piga  
Secretariat: Erika Deodato

Scientific Board



Summer/Winter School


Last update 16 May 2024