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TSLR - EEP - Mechanism design and local welfare

12th - 13th December 2013 | Torino, Italy


Classes will start on December the 12th at 9.00 a.m. and will end on December the 13th at 4 p.m. 

- Intro and objectives
- Course programme
- Target participants
- Course faculty
- Admission requirements, fees, registration, scholarships
- Course venue
- Accommodation
- Course secretariat

Link to the Application form

Intro & Objectives

The crisis of welfare public expenditure, in particular at local level, calls for a fresh rethinking on the way money is used for services and distributed to families and individuals for welfare subsidies and aid, both by the public sector and by private charities, grant-makers and benevolent funds.
When talking about welfare policies or benevolent and charitable activities, sometimes limited attention is given to players’ behavior in this context, to the incentives that lead their choices, to distribution of information and consequent strategies. Nonetheless, Game Theory and Mechanism Design Theory provided very interesting theoretical contributions that might suggest useful practical hints if adapted to each context.

The course intends to offer a popular introduction to Game Theory, Information Theory and Mechanism Design Theory, and on possible fall-outs on aid-giving and charitable activities, with concrete examples on the relations between donors and beneficiaries. Mechanism Design theory has already found fruitful application in policy-making: some examples can be discovered in the fields of auctions, utility regulation, environmental policies, development policies in poor countries. On the contrary, it is applied to the welfare sector still in a limited way, despite the fact that where institutions are set with the official mission to help poor and vulnerable people, such institutional goal could distort organization/individual incentives, triggering opportunistic behavior from the applicant side.
A particular example of a mechanism to design conditional schemes in which benefits are related to virtuous behavior is provided by asset building and Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) experiences. Policies combining cash transfer to poor families, neediest individuals or students with asset building choices like personal investments in good practices (education, school attendance, preventive health, saving) are spreading in the developing world but still scattered in OECD countries.  Yet outcomes of experiments on behavioural drivers could give new insights into local policies with the careful analysis of micro incentives and possible design for better policies. In this context, the second part of the course aims to give participants a fresh overview of the main available instruments to design a conditional cash transfer (CCT) policy at local level alongside with deep insight from a limited set of international case studies.

Course programme

(F. Becchis and A. Gallice)
- An overview on welfare policies in the framework of the ongoing economic crisis
- Popular introduction to mechanism design and game theory
- Microeconomic theoretical elements: “living on benefits” professionals; information asymmetries (adverse selection, moral hazard problems, …).
- The “Aid-giving game”: a toy game developed by the TSLR
- Impact of Conditional Cash Transfers on Children's Health, Education and Development: the case of Opportunity New York City (J.L. Aber)
- Cash transfers against extreme poverty in Bangladesh: differences and similarities with CCT programs in developed countries  (S. Gulesci)
- Experiences from the Turin urban area: case histories brought by Ufficio Pio della Compagnia di San Paolo and Caritas Diocesana Torino.
Analysis of a case study (virtual or proposed by the course participants): identifying improvements on the basis of knowledge acquired in the previous sessions.

Target participants

(minimum 12 - maximum 30 participants)
- Managers and practitioners of grant-giving organizations (foundations, charities, NGOs, …)
- Public officials and policy-makers in charge of designing local policies for welfare
- Officials in charge of designing and managing incentive policies and instruments in the education sector
- Professionals
- Researchers.

Course Faculty

   John Lawrence ABER
Distinguished Professor of Applied Psychology and Public Policy at the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development, New York University. He earned his Ph.D. from Yale University and an A.B. from Harvard University. He is an internationally recognized expert in child development and social policy. His basic research examines the influence of poverty and violence, at the family and community levels, on the social, emotional, behavioral, cognitive and academic development of children and youth. Dr. Aber also designs and conducts rigorous evaluations of innovative programs and policies for children, youth and families, such as violence prevention, literacy development, welfare reform and comprehensive services initiatives.   
Scientific director of Turin School of Local Regulation and of Fondazione per l’Ambiente since its creation, where he coordinates research programmes on the interaction between economics, energy and environment and on local public services, as well as capacity building and support activities for local public entities. Former contract professor in Environmental Economics at the Polytechnic of Torino and University of East Piedmont, and now at the Saint John International University in Vinovo (Torino).
His scientific interests and his publications range from public economics to environmental and regulatory economics.
Assistant professor at the Department of Economics and Statistics of the University of Torino and research affiliate of Collegio Carlo Alberto. He holds a MSc in Economics from the University College of London and a PhD in Economics from the European University Institute. He has also been a visiting scholar at the University of California, Berkeley and at the Ludwig Maximilians University, Munich. His areas of interest are industrial organization, auction theory, behavioural economics.
Assistant Professor in the Department of Economics and IGIER at Università Commerciale Luigi Bocconi. He completed his Ph.D. in Economics at London School of Economics in 2011. His research interests are in the field of development economics, with a focus on the evaluation of social and economic policies in developing countries. His work includes evaluation of asset transfer and training programs in Bangladesh, Uganda and Tanzania; analysis of the link between education and women's empowerment in Turkey and informal insurance.

Admission requirements, fee, registration

Admission requirements
Admission is selective and based on professional achievement and organizational responsibility. No formal educational requirements apply, but proficiency in written and spoken English is essential.

Application process
Interested participants shall fill-in the application form: www.turinschool.eu/eep/welfare/apply/form.php. Admitted participants will be required to finalize their registration through payment of the registration fee. They will receive all payment instructions by e-mail.

Registrations close on November 12th 2013. Payment is due within that date.

Cancellation Clause
The course will take place as scheduled with a minimum of 12 participants. In case of cancellation of the session due to a lower number of registered participants, already registered applicants will be totally refunded.

Programme fee
The programme fee covers Course tuition, case materials, 2-night accommodation, meals. Payment is due within November 12th 2013.  The Fee structure is outlined below. ALL FEES ARE VAT EXEMPTED. Cancellation policies are outlined in the information provided to applicants upon admission.

(1) The discounted rate applies to each additional participants from the same organization. This rate applies only if the organization takes charge of registration costs for their participants (invoice addressed to the organization).
(2) Registered participants inviting another person to apply to the course will be refunded 15% of their payment once their friend / colleague has been admitted and has finalized his/her registration.
(3) A maximum of 5 PhD candidates will be admitted per edition. No extra discounts apply (e.g. Early Bird registration, more than one participant, ...)

The Turin School of Local Regulation offers a limited number of scholarships for the partial coverage of the tutition fees (50% of the full tuition fee - or of the early bird fee in case of registration within September 30th).
To be considered for a scholarship applicants shall fill-in the application form to the course and then send a written scholarship request to .

In order to apply the following criteria shall be met:
- have a track record in fields related to the course topic (demonstrated by the CV uploaded in the application form and by any other relevant materials to be attached to the written request,e.g. project summaries, publications, articles, ...)
- do not receive any tuition fee coverage from their institution / company
- have the means to pay the remaining 50% of the fee and their travel costs.

Results of the selection will be communicated 10 days prior to the registration deadlines (registration deadlines are: 30 September for Early Bird Registration and 12 November for regular registration).
Please note that scholarships are intended as a reduction of the tuition fees and do not provide any direct cash transfer.
Please contact the Secretariat for further information.

Course Venue


The Course will take place at Sermig's (Servizio Missionario Giovani - Missionary Youth Service). Sermig was founded in Turin in 1964, when Ernesto Olivero and a group of young people founded a group with the aim of defeating hunger through actions focusing on justice, promoting development and living solidarity towards the poor. Since 1983 the seat of Sermig is the Arsenal of Peace in Turin, an abandoned weapons factory, restored thanks to the free work of thousands of volunteers. Today, it is a meeting point, a place in which sharing and exchanging experiences, training for young people from Italy and from the world. 
Sermig is located in the most multicultural area of the city, Porta Palazzo.


Accommodation and meals will be provided at Ospiteria dell'Arsenale della Pace, Sermig's guesthouse. All rooms have private bathroom with shower and free Internet Wi-Fi connection. Bed sheets and towels are provided.

Course Secretariat

For any further information please contact our Secretariat:

Turin School of Local Regulation
@ Fondazione per l'Ambiente
Via Pomba, 23
I-10123 Torino (TO), Italy
Phone: +390115714750
Fax: +390115714751