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Economics of Social Justice

Lecture with Tutorial in WS 2013/2014

Prof. Dr. Bernhard Neumärker

Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg
Department for Economic Policy and Constitutional Economic Theory



12-16: Old exams are available online (here). The password will be announced in the lecture. Alternatively, write a short mail to Robert Kappius.

12-17: On the 6th of January the tutorial will not take place (holiday).



Lecture: Prof. Dr. Bernhard Neumärker

Time:Do, 8-10 h
Room:HS 3043 KG III
Start:1. Semester week

Tutorial: Dipl.-Volkswirt Robert Kappius

Time:Mo, 14-16 h
Room:Peterhof Room 1 (new!!)
Start:2. Semester week


Target Group and Language

  • This elective course is designated for students of the M.Sc. Economics program (economics and politics), the M.Sc. VWL program, and Diplom-Students (Hauptstudium). Exchange students are equally welcome to participate.
  • If students of other programs and faculties (e.g. political science) wish to participate, they should contact the tutor by email before the third week of the semester.
  • Recommended prerequisites: Good knowledge of microeconomics, preferably knowledge from the courses "Economic Policy and Public Choice" (winter terms) and "Constitutional Economics" (summer terms).
  • This module is entirely taught in English.


Credits: 4 or 6 ECTS

  • M.Sc. Economics: Elective for profile ‘Economics and Politics’.
  • M.Sc. VWL: Wirtschaftspolitisches Wahlpflichtmodul (Ordnungspolitik).
  • Diplom VWL: Hauptstudium, Pflichtfach „Wirtschaftspolitik: Ordnungspolitik“, Pflichtwahlfächer „Ordnungs- und Wettbewerbspolitik“ and "Sozialpolitik".
  • 4 ECTS: lecture
  • 6 ECTS: lecture and tutorial.



  • Outlines and slides will be provided at this website.
  • Literature will be provided on ILIAS.
  • The passwords will be provided in the first sessions of the lecture and tutorial.



Outline and Introductory References (tentative)

Practical policy choices involve sacrificing the well-being and the means of some for the benefits of others, as compared with alternatives that could have been chosen. Even if it is not the only thing that matters, the problem of distributive justice is essential, omnipresent and inevitable. Economists not only have failed to answer the questions of the just distribution, but have tried harder to avoid the problem than to solve it. They have a great deal to say about efficiency and potential compensation, but they are nearly silent concerning meaningful principles of justice and their effects on economic policy. One has to integrate the following normative and positive aspects of justice into the analysis of economic policy: Is social justice equality? Why (or why not)? Among whom? Is equality to each according to her abilities, her work or her consumption? Or else is it equality of opportunities, liberties, powers and/or rights? Do we need a just process or a just outcome of policy making? What are the most important elements of a just constitution? How is the reason of just rules applied to daily economic policy?

  1. Introduction
  2. Basic Issues and Theoretical Foundations
  3. Modern Concepts of Economic Justice
  4. Applications


References (tentative)

  • Binmore, K.: Natural Justice, Oxford et al. 2005.
  • Kolm, S.-C.: Modern Theories of Justice, Cambridge/MA 1996.
  • Mueller, D.C.: Public Choice III, Cambridge 2003.
  • Roemer, J.E.: Theories of Distributive Justice, Cambridge/MA 1996.
  • Young, H.P.: Equity in Theory and Practice, Princeton/NJ 1994.


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