AØKK08399U Version of this coursedescription is no longer valid. Please go to Volume 2020/2021: Summerschool 2020: Economics of Misbehavior

Volume 2019/2020

MSc programme in Economics – elective course


The version of this course description is no longer valid. Please go to:

Economics of Misbehavior. course description of 2020/2021




Economics is a powerful tool that promote our understanding of social problems specific to our times. In particular, Economics can help us to find the reasons behind of a series of (mis)behaviors such as why people engage in unprotected sex; why people lie, cheat and steal; why names affect the chance of being hired or rent an apartment; why people pollute the environment and waste natural resources; why people engage in risky health behavior such as smoking and drinking; and why people regret (but not change) their poor diet and sedentary lifestyle.

Misbehavior -behavior that people consider inappropriate- has not only negative consequences for the individuals but also have huge costs for our society and can cause hundreds of thousands of preventable deaths.

In this course students will explore how economics can shed light on the darkest places of human behavior, learn how to use the economics tools (economic theory, empirical analysis and experimentation) to analyze misbehavior and investigate its deep causes and consequences.

Further, this course will provide students with sufficient knowledge to discuss the effectiveness of policy interventions aiming at reduce this misbehavior.

economics reaches into the strangest of places and throws light onto the occasionally dark side of human nature.

Learning Outcome

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



  • Identify which tool is appropriate for studying a given behavior and its consequences.
  • Reflect on the origins of specific (mis)behaviors and their causes.
  • Account for the most relevant drivers of human behavior.



  • Analyze cases using the proper economic theories, methods and tools.
  • Discuss real-world problems and policy questions and connect them with the relevant economic literature.



  • Plan and carry out an individual analysis of issues, causes and consequences.
  • Select and develop appropriate analytical frameworks and suggest policy recommendations.
  • Debate and write about economic ideas and policies effectively.


A preliminary list of background references comprises:

  • Bowmaker, S. W. (Ed.). (2006). Economics uncut: A complete guide to life, death and misadventure. Edward Elgar Publishing.
  • Winter, H. (2013). Trade-offs: an introduction to economic reasoning and social issues. University of Chicago Press.
  • List, J., & Gneezy, U. (2014). The why axis: Hidden motives and the undiscovered economics of everyday life. Random House.
  • Levitt, S. D., & Dubner, S. J. (2007). Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything. Human Ecology Review, 14(1), 113.
  • Levitt, S. D., & Dubner, S. J. (2011). Superfreakonomics. Sperling & Kupfer.
  • Levitt, S. D., & Dubner, S. J. (2014). Think like a freak. Harper Audio.
  • Levitt, S. D., & Dubner, S. J. (2015). When to rob a bank:... and 131 more warped suggestions and well-intended rants. Harper Collins.
  • Stephens-Davidowitz, S., & Pabon, A. (2017). Everybody lies: Big data, new data, and what the internet can tell us about who we really are. New York, NY: HarperCollins.
  • Tommasi, M., Ierulli, K., & Becker, G. (Eds.). (1995). The new economics of human behaviour. Cambridge University Press.
  • Becker, G., & GN, B. (1997). The economics of life: from baseball to affirmative action to immigration, how real world issues affect our everyday life (No. 306.3/B395). McGraw-hill.


A list of academic papers and material will be distributed four weeks before the course start so that students can read everything before the course.

The course requires that students read several scientific papers and have a good knowledge of microeconomics and econometrics.

It is recommended that students have followed Micro III from the Study of Economics, University of Copenhagen or a similar course.
Lectures and groupwork where the students collaborate, debate and challenge other students and give each other constructive feedback.

During each lecture a different topic will be presented, analyzed and discussed. First, the lecturer will introduce the topic and will pose a specific problem (challenge). Then, some students will present some of some assigned papers and the class will discuss critically their contents. After that, students (in groups) will work on the challenge assigned. At the end of the lecture, the entire class will reflect on the topic of the lecture and wrap-up what has been learnt.

NOTE: Due to the Corona situation, the course will be conducted exclusively online. Please follow the instructions in Absalon, that may involve changes in the original schedule.
Please go to the course description of 2020/2021
  • Category
  • Hours
  • Exam
  • 48
  • Lectures
  • 40
  • Preparation
  • 118
  • Total
  • 206
Peer feedback (Students give each other feedback)


Students will receive feedback from the lecturer and from the peers continuously during the course.

7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Written assignment, 7 days
individual take-home exam. It is not allowed to collaborate on the assignment with anyone. The exam is given in English and must be answered in English.
Exam registration requirements

Full participation at the summerschool is mandatory and the student must actively participate in all activities to be able to sit the exam including:

Requirement 1 (participation in group activities): During the course each student is assigned to a specific group. In the group the student has to work on all the activities given by the teacher.

Requirement 2 (individual homework): During each lecture, in class, the student has to answer and submit one (or more) assignment questions covering the reading material. The student must have 75% of the mandatory assignments approved to be able to sit the exam.


All aids allowed
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship
for the written exam. The exam may be chosen for external censorship by random check.
Exam period

The exam takes place 

Please go to the course description of 2020/2021


Exam information:

In special cases, the exam date can be changed to another day and time within the exam period.


For enrolled students more information about examination, rules etc. is available at Master students (UK) and Master students (DK).



The reexam takes place

Please go to the course description of 2020/2021


Reexam information:

Same as ordinary. Written assignment, 7 days individual take-home exam. It is not allowed to collaborate on the assignment with anyone. The exam is given in English and must be answered in English.


More information is available at Master students (UK) and Master students (DK).

Criteria for exam assesment

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


To receive the top grade, 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.