Amherst College 2015-16 Catalog

  • Introduction
  • About Amherst College
  • Admission & Financial Aid
  • Regulations & Requirements
  • Amherst College Courses
  • Five College Programs & Certificates
  • Honors & Fellowships

Introduction

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Economics

Professors Barbezat, Kingston, Reyes‡, Westhoff‡, Woglom, and B. Yarbrough*; Associate Professors Honig (Chair) and Ishii; Assistant Professors Baisa, Rabinovich*, Raymond, Sims, Singh, and Theoharides; Adjunct Professor R. Yarbrough.

*On leave 2015-16.

‡On leave spring semester 2015-16.

Major Program. Economics majors must take a total of nine courses in economics, which include ECON 111/111E, the core theory courses, and at least two upper-level electives numbered 400 to 490.  Honors students must take a total of ten courses.  All students must successfully complete a comprehensive exam.

In its simplest form, the economics major consists of a total of nine full-semester courses in economics.  These courses include:

• An Introduction to Economics (111/111E)
• Three core theory courses in Microeconomics (300 or 301), Macroeconomics (330 or 331), and Econometrics (360 or 361)
• At least five other courses in economics, usually electives numbered 200-290 or 400-490, at least two of which are numbered 400-490

The following sections clarify the details of these requirements.

Declaring an Economics Major.  It is recommended that students take several economics courses prior to adding the economics major. Students must attain a grade of B or better in ECON 111/111E or a grade of B– or better in an elective (numbered 200-290) before being allowed to add the economics major.  Major declarations should occur by the end of sophomore year, or by the end of junior year at the latest. 

Introduction to Economics. The economics major begins with ECON 111/111E, a survey of current economic issues and problems and an introduction to the basic tools essential for all areas of economics. ECON 111/111E is a requisite for all other courses in economics, and for many courses there is no other requisite. After completing ECON 111/111E a student may enroll in a variety of applied courses. Students may be excused from the requirement of taking ECON 111/111E by demonstrating an adequate understanding of basic economic principles. Four specific ways of being excused from the ECON 111/111E requirement are: (1) Attaining a grade of 4 or 5 on both the macroeconomic and microeconomic portion of the Advanced Placement Exam; (2) Passing a placement exam that is given by the department typically at the beginning of each semester; (3) Attaining a grade of 6 or 7 on the higher level International Baccalaureate in Economics; (4) Attaining a grade of A on the A levels.

Electives.  We offer many electives, covering a wide variety of topics in economics.  The elective courses numbered in the 200s require only Economics 111/111E as a prerequisite, and are most appropriate for students relatively early in their study of economics.  The elective courses numbered in the 400s require one or more of the core theory courses as prerequisites.  They are appropriate for students a bit further along in their study of economics, primarily (though not exclusively) juniors and seniors.

The Core.  All majors must complete the sequence of core theory courses in microeconomics, macroeconomics, and econometrics: ECON 300 or 301, 330 or 331, and 360 or 361. We would like to provide some guidance regarding the core sequence.   First, students must attain a grade of B or better in ECON 111/111E or a grade of B- or better in an elective (numbered 200-290) before registering for a core theory course.  Entering students who pass out of ECON 111/111E may register for a core course with consent of the instructor.   Second, these courses can be taken in any order, but it is recommended that a student take ECON 300/301 or 330/331 before enrolling in ECON 360/361. Third, it is not generally advisable to take more than one of the core theory courses in a given semester. Fourth, students should make every effort to complete the sequence of core theory courses by the end of the Junior year, or at the very latest by the end of the 7th semester (usually the fall semester of senior year).  Failure to do so jeopardizes a student’s chances of graduating with an economics major.  Only in truly exceptional circumstances will exceptions be made to this rule.  Fifth, a student who receives a grade of F in a core theory course must retake that core theory course.  A student who receives a grade of D in a core theory course may not count that course towards the major and must take ECON 390 (a special topics course focusing on that area of core theory) and receive a grade of C- or better in that special topics course.  Sixth, the core theory courses must be completed at Amherst.  In exceptional circumstances, a student may be permitted to substitute a non-Amherst course for one of the core courses. Such exceptions are considered only if a written request is submitted to the Department Chair prior to initiating the other work. 

Departmental Honors Program. To be eligible to enter the honors program, a senior (or second-semester junior in an E Class) must have already completed Microeconomic Theory (ECON 300 or 301), Macroeconomic Theory (ECON 330 or 331) and Econometrics (ECON 360 or 361) with an average grade of 11.00 or higher.  (For reference, conversion equivalents are A = 13, A- = 12, B+ = 11, B = 10, etc.)  No exceptions to this rule will be allowed.  Normally, all these core courses must be taken at Amherst (see above re exceptional circumstances).  Therefore, a student considering writing a thesis and intending to study abroad should plan their course of study carefully, in consultation with economics faculty.  Students who intend to enter the honors program are encouraged to take the advanced core theory courses, to gain some experience doing economic research, and to complete at least one upper-level elective prior to the senior year.  Honors students take ECON 498, the Senior Departmental Honors Seminar, in the fall semester, and complete their honors essay under the guidance of an individual advisor in the spring semester, ECON 499.  ECON 498 and 499 can both be counted towards the major total course requirement (ten courses for honors students).  Successful completion of ECON 498 and 499 will serve to satisfy the comprehensive requirement in economics for honors students. 

Comprehensive Exam. A written comprehensive exam is given during the second week of the second semester to economics majors who have completed the core theory courses.

Graduate Study. Students who intend to pursue graduate study in economics are strongly advised to take additional courses in mathematics. Such students should plan on taking Intermediate Calculus and Linear Algebra, at a minimum, and ideally Multivariable Calculus and Introduction to Analysis in addition.  (The course numbers are: MATH 121, 272, 211, and 355.)

Courses from Other Institutions.  Non-Amherst College courses (including courses taken abroad) may be used as elective courses (excluding the upper-level electives). Such non-Amherst courses must be taught in an economics department and must require at least ECON 111 or equivalent as a prerequisite. The student must receive one full Amherst College course credit for the work. Therefore, if a student were to take five courses abroad, which included two economics courses and for which Amherst College awarded four course credits, the work done abroad would be counted as the equivalent of one elective course in economics. If only one of the five courses were an economics course, the student would not receive any elective credits. Students who transfer to Amherst and wish to receive credit towards the major requirements for previous work must obtain written permission from the Department Chair.

Pass/Fail Courses. ECON 111/111E may be taken on a Pass/Fail basis only by seniors or second semester juniors, and only with the consent of the instructor. Other departmental courses may be taken on a Pass/Fail basis at the discretion of the instructor. Majors may not use the Pass/Fail option in a course used to satisfy a major requirement.

The Economics Student Handbook.  All students considering majoring in economics should read the Economics Student Handbook, which contains important additional information about the economics major.  The Handbook is available on the department webpage and in the department office.

111 An Introduction to Economics

A study of the central problem of scarcity and of the ways in which the U.S. economic system allocates scarce resources among competing ends and apportions the goods produced among people. Two 80-minute and one 50-minute lecture/discussion per week.

Requisite for all other courses in Economics. Limited to 25 Amherst College students fall semester: Professors Ishii, Kingston, Raymond, Theoharides and Westhoff. Limited to 30 Amherst College students spring semester: Professors Baisa, Ishii, Raymond, Singh and Theoharides.

2017-18: Offered in Fall 2017 and Spring 2018
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Spring 2008, Fall 2008, Spring 2009, Fall 2009, Spring 2010, Fall 2010, Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017

111E An Introduction to Economics with Environmental Applications

(Offered as ECON 111E and ENST 230.) A study of the central problem of scarcity and of the ways in which micro and macro economic systems allocate scarce resources among competing ends and apportion goods produced among people.  Covers the same material as ECON 111 but with special attention to the relationship between economic activity and environmental problems and to the application of micro and macroeconomic theory tools to analyze environmental issues. A student may not receive credit for both ECON 111 and ECON 111E. 

Two 80-minute and one 50-minute lecture/discussion per week.  Each section is limited to 25 Amherst College students.  Fall semester. Professor Sims.

2017-18: Offered in Fall 2017 and Spring 2018
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Spring 2008, Fall 2008, Spring 2009, Fall 2009, Spring 2010, Fall 2010, Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017

210 Environmental and Natural Resource Economics

Students in this course will explore society’s use of the natural environment as a component of production and consumption. The allocation of exhaustible and renewable resources and the protection of environmental quality from an economic standpoint will be examined. Public policy avenues for controlling natural resource management and the environment will also be explored. Case studies include air pollution and acid rain, depletion of the ozone layer and the greenhouse effect, the solid waste crisis, and deforestation, among others.

Requisite: ECON 111/111E. Limited to 30 students. Spring semester. Professor Sims.

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2011, Fall 2012, Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Spring 2016

214 Health Economics and Policy

Health care poses many pressing questions: Why do we spend so much on health care?  Does this spending actually produce better health?  How do health care institutions function?  What is the appropriate role of government? How are we to judge the efficiency and equity of health care policy?  By applying economic analysis to health, health care, and health care markets, health economics provides insight into these questions.  In the first section of this course, we will assess the role of health care in the economy and apply economic models to the production of health and health care.  In the second section of the course, we will study the structure of health care markets and the roles of key institutions.  In the third section of the course, we will investigate the role of government and use our acquired knowledge to understand and evaluate health care policy and reform.  Throughout this analysis, we will pay careful attention to the nature of health care markets, the anatomy of market failures, and the implications for public policy.  Empirical results, current issues, and public policies will be discussed throughout the course.  In addition to technical problems and economic analyses, students will be asked to write analytical papers and participate actively in the discussion of current economic research and public policy.

Requisite: ECON 111/111E. Recommended: any one of Microeconomics (ECON 300/301), Econometrics (ECON 360/361), or Statistics (MATH 130). Limited to 35 students. Omitted 2015-16. Professor Reyes.

2017-18: Offered in Fall 2017
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2015

223 Economics of Migration

International migration is a key labor market alternative for many individuals, especially for those from developing countries. This course focuses on the economic underpinnings of the migration decision that culminates in individuals leaving their home country for work abroad. We will begin the course by examining the question of why people migrate. In the second section, we will focus on the effects of migration on migrant-sending developing countries. In the third section, we will examine the impacts of migration on migrant-receiving countries. Through lectures, discussion, debates, and written policy briefs, we will use economics as a toolbox for analyzing the complex issues of migration policy.

Requisite: ECON 111/111E. Limited to 35 students. Fall semester. Professor Theoharides.

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2014, Fall 2015

225 Industrial Organization

This course examines the determinants of and linkages between market structure, firm conduct, and industrial performance. Some of the questions that will be addressed include: Why do some markets have many sellers while others have only few? How and why do different market structures give rise to different prices and outputs? In what ways can firms behave strategically so as to prevent entry or induce exit of rival firms? Under what circumstances can collusion be successful? Why do firms price discriminate? Why do firms advertise? Does a competitive firm or a monopoly have a greater incentive to innovate? In answering these and other questions, the consequent implications for efficiency and public policy will also be explored.

Requisite: ECON 111/111E. Limited to 50 students.  Spring semester.  Professor Ishii.

2017-18: Offered in Spring 2018
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Spring 2011, Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2016

227 International Trade

This course uses microeconomic analysis to examine economic relationships among countries. Issues addressed include why nations trade, the distributional effects of trade, economic growth, factor mobility, and protectionism. Also included are discussions of the special trade-related problems of developing countries and of the history of the international trading system.

Requisite: ECON 111/111E. Limited to 50 students. Omitted 2015-16.  Professor B. Yarbrough.

2017-18: Offered in Fall 2017 and Spring 2018
Other years: Offered in Fall 2008, Spring 2009, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2015

235 Open-Economy Macroeconomics

This course uses macroeconomic analysis to examine economic relationships among countries. Issues addressed include foreign exchange markets, the balance of payments, and the implications of openness for the efficacy of various macroeconomic policies. Also included are discussions of the special macroeconomic problems of developing countries and of the history of the international monetary system. Not open to students who have taken ECON 435.

Requisite: ECON 111/111E. Limited to 50 students. Omitted 2015-16. Professor B. Yarbrough.

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014

237 Financial Globalization, Growth and Crises

This course surveys the recent wave of financial globalization and assesses both its merits and potential risks. In particular, we will examine the most important potential benefit of financial globalization, an increased rate of economic growth that can be a powerful tool in alleviating poverty. We will analyze the theoretical arguments for a growth-enhancing effect of globalization and discuss the empirical evidence. We will then turn to the most important potential drawback: the risk of a devastating financial crisis, particularly in emerging market economies that have only recently opened to international capital movements. Throughout the course we will emphasize the conditions and policies under which financial globalization is likely to be successful. The course will conclude with an analysis of the effect of financial globalization, as well as increased trade openness, on inflation and the conduct of monetary policy.

Requisite: ECON 111/111E.  Limited to 50 students. Consent of the instructor required for students who have taken ECON 435.  Spring semester.  Professor Honig.

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2010, Fall 2010, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Spring 2016

245 Development Economics

An introduction to the historical experience and current economic problems of developing countries, and survey of theories of economic growth and development.  Topics will include economic growth, health, education, urbanization, corruption, technology, aid, gender and institutions.  The course will throw light on market failures in developing countries and show how we can use the tools of economics to understand these problems and to evaluate policy options.

Requisite: ECON 111/111E. Limited to 50 students. Fall semester.  Professor Singh.

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2014, Fall 2015

265 Money and Economic Activity

This course studies the monetary systems that facilitate exchange. Such systems overcame the limitations of barter with commodity monies such as gold, and gradually evolved into financial intermediaries that issue paper notes and bank deposits as money. Intermediaries in markets for insurance, debt, and equity are studied too. Also, the effects of financial markets on aggregate economic activity and the level and term structure of interest rates are studied. Not open to students who have taken ECON 423.

Requisite: ECON 111/111E. Limited to 50 students. Fall semester. Professor Woglom.

2017-18: Offered in Fall 2017
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016

271 Economic History of the United States, 1600-1860

The economic development of the United States provides an excellent starting point for an understanding of both this nation’s history and its current economic situation. We begin with the colonial period and the creation of the nation and end with the Civil War and the breakdown of the Union. Throughout we provide an economic reading of the events and try to explain the conflicts and resolutions in economic terms.

Requisite: ECON 111/111E. Limited to 35 students. Fall semester. Professor Barbezat.

2017-18: Offered in Fall 2017
Other years: Offered in Fall 2010, Fall 2013, Fall 2015

272 Economic History of the United States, 1865-1965

The economic development of the United States provides an excellent starting point for an understanding of both this nation’s history and its current economic situation. We begin with the reconstruction period after the Civil War and end with the Civil Rights Era and the War on Poverty. Throughout we provide an economic reading of the events and try to explain the conflicts and resolutions in economic terms.

Requisite: ECON 111/111E. Limited to 35 students. Spring semester. Professor Barbezat.

2017-18: Offered in Spring 2018
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Fall 2014, Spring 2016, Spring 2017

275 Consumption and the Pursuit of Happiness

In the Declaration of Independence, the Founders called the “pursuit of happiness” an “inalienable right,” yet both psychologists and economists have noted that we do not well understand the determinants of the attainment of happiness or contentment. In this course, we will examine the literature on well-being in both micro- and macroeconomic contexts. We will review the neoclassical model of utility maximization and contrast it to other modes of understanding how and why people make the decisions they do, as they pursue their happiness. On the macroeconomic side, we will attempt to understand what factors (e.g. growth, unemployment, inflation) seem most important for policy-makers to focus on in order to sustain their citizens' well-being. The course will also include opportunities for students to examine their own consumption decisions and assumptions about the attainment of happiness. 

Requisite: ECON 111/111E. Not open to students who have taken ECON 425. Limited to 50 students. Omitted 2015-16.  Professor Barbezat.

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2011, Spring 2013, Spring 2015, Fall 2016

300 Microeconomics

This course develops the tools of modern microeconomic theory and notes their applications to matters of utility and demand; production functions and cost; pricing of output under perfect competition, monopoly, oligopoly, etc.; pricing of productive services; intertemporal decision-making; the economics of uncertainty; efficiency, equity, general equilibrium; externalities and public goods. A student may not receive credit for both ECON 300 and ECON 301.

Requisite: MATH 111, or equivalent and at least a "B" grade in ECON 111/111E or a "B-" in ECON 200-290, or equivalent. Limited to 50 students. Fall semester: Professor Baisa. Spring semester: Professor Singh.

2017-18: Offered in Fall 2017 and Spring 2018
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Spring 2008, Fall 2008, Spring 2009, Fall 2009, Spring 2010, Fall 2010, Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017

301 Advanced Microeconomics

This course covers similar material to that covered in ECON 300 but is mathematically more rigorous and moves at a more rapid pace. A student may not receive credit for both ECON 300 and ECON 301.

Requisite: At least a "B" grade in ECON 111/111E or a "B-" grade in ECON 200-290, or equivalent, and MATH 211 or equivalent, or consent of the instructor. Fall semester. Professor Baisa.

2017-18: Offered in Fall 2017
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2016

330 Macroeconomics

This course develops macroeconomic models of the determinants of economic activity, inflation, unemployment, and economic growth. The models are used to analyze recent monetary and fiscal policy issues in the United States, and also to analyze the controversies separating schools of macroeconomic thought such as the New Keynesians, Monetarists and New Classicals. A student may not receive credit for both ECON 330 and ECON 331.

Requisite: Math 111 or equivalent and at least a "B" grade in ECON 111/111E or a "B-" in ECON 200-290, or equivalent. Limited to 50 students.  Fall semester: Professor Honig. Spring semester: Professor Honig.

2017-18: Offered in Fall 2017 and Spring 2018
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Spring 2008, Fall 2008, Spring 2009, Fall 2009, Spring 2010, Fall 2010, Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017

331 Advanced Macroeconomics

This course covers similar material to that covered in ECON 330 but is mathematically more rigorous and moves at a more rapid pace. A student may not receive credit for both ECON 330 and ECON 331.

Requisite: At least a "B" grade in ECON 111/111E or a "B-" grade in ECON 200-290, or equivalent, and MATH 121 or equivalent, or consent of the instructor. Spring semester. Professor Woglom.

2017-18: Offered in Spring 2018
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2011, Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Spring 2016, Spring 2017

360 Econometrics

A study of the analysis of quantitative data, with special emphasis on the application of statistical methods to economic problems.  A student may not receive credit for both ECON 360 and ECON 361.

Requisite: MATH 111, or equivalent and at least a "B" grade in ECON 111/111E or a "B-" in ECON 200-290, or equivalent. Limited to 50 students.  Fall semester: Professor Westhoff.  Spring semester: Professors Sims and Theoharides.

2017-18: Offered in Fall 2017 and Spring 2018
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Spring 2008, Fall 2008, Spring 2009, Fall 2009, Spring 2010, Fall 2010, Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017

361 Advanced Econometrics

This course studies the specification, estimation, and testing of econometric models based on the maximum likelihood and method of moments principles. It builds from mathematical statistics and utilizes matrix algebra, the rudiments of which will be introduced in the course. The course will also review applications of econometric models to various areas of micro and macroeconomics. A student may not receive credit for both ECON 360 and ECON 361. 

Requisite: At least a "B" grade in ECON 111/111E or a "B-" grade in ECON 200-290, or equivalent, and MATH 211 or equivalent, and STAT 111 (previously MATH 130) or STAT 135 or equivalent. Fall semester.  Professor Ishii.

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2008, Spring 2010, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Spring 2014, Fall 2015, Spring 2017

408 Behavioral Economics

Behavioral economics is an active research field, drawing together people from psychology, economics, political science, and management, among other fields. Economic theory is based on the idea that economic agents are rational and investigates the implications of such rational behavior.  Empirical research has revealed discrepancies between derived "optimal" strategies and the actual behavior of decision makers in domains as varied as labor supply, asset allocation, retail markets and credit card usage.  Based on these empirical findings, behavioral economics questions the assumption of perfect rationality and uses insights from psychology to improve theoretical and empirical predictions of standard economic theory. This course aims to introduce students to this rapidly emerging and important field.

Requisite: ECON 300/301 and MATH 121.  Limited to 35 students. Spring semester. Professor Raymond.

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2016, Spring 2017

410 Microeconomics of Development

The course aims to study the latest research on topics in development economics.  It will focus on both randomized experiments as well as some of the classic microeconomic empirical papers on topics such as health, education, corruption, labor, microfinance and social capital. Students will be required to read and comment on published or working papers every week.  Class participation and peer discussions will be incentivized.  The final project will involve each student answering a question in development economics employing empirical analysis on micro-level data sets already available.

Requisite: Economics 360/361 or permission of instructor. Limited to 15 students. Fall semester. Professor Singh.

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Fall 2015, Spring 2017

412 Applied Microeconomics Seminar

The field of applied microeconomics (“applied micro”) is a fundamentally outward-looking branch of economics. Applied microeconomists take economic theories and methodologies out into the world and apply them to interesting questions of individual behavior and societal outcomes. This upper-level seminar will start with an overview of the field and its methodologies, followed by foundational material in econometric identification and behavioral economics. We will then address substantive areas such as environmental economics, the fetal origins hypothesis, antisocial behavior, economics of crime, and the economics of gender, race, and inequality. Specific topics will vary from year to year. Most of the course will be devoted to close reading of research papers, including discussion of the relative merits of particular theoretical and empirical methodologies. Students will participate actively in class discussion, make oral presentations, evaluate empirical data, and write analytical papers.

Requisite: ECON 300/301 (Microeconomics) and ECON 360/361 (Econometrics). Limited to 15 students. Fall semester. Professor Reyes.

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Spring 2017

416 Evaluating Social Policy

This is an upper-level seminar in social policy which examines a number of social programs in the United States, including Medicaid, the Earned Income Tax Credit, and Temporary Aid to Needy Families. The seminar will introduce you to the operation of these programs and will teach you how to use economic and econometric tools to evaluate them.  Most of the course will be devoted to close reading and discussion of research papers, including discussion of the relative merits of various empirical and econometric techniques.  Students will be asked to participate actively in class discussion, to make oral presentations, to evaluate empirical data, and to write analytical papers.  Throughout the course, we will think broadly about the goals of social policy, always keeping the canonical tradeoff between efficiency and equity at the forefront.  We will also consider the practical challenges faced not only by policymakers in designing effective policies but also by scholars in evaluating the effectiveness of those policies.

Requisite: Microeconomics (ECON 300/301) and Econometrics (ECON 360/361). Limited to 15 students. Fall semester. Professor Reyes.

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2015

420 Game Theory and Applications

Game theory analyzes situations in which multiple individuals (or firms, political parties, countries) interact in a strategic manner. It has proved useful for explaining cooperation and conflict in a wide variety of strategic situations in economics, political science, and elsewhere. Such situations can include, for example, firms interacting in imperfectly competitive markets, auctions, arms races, political competition for votes, and chess. This course will provide an introduction to the tools and insights of game theory. Though mathematically rigorous, emphasis will be on applications rather than on formal theory.

Requisite: ECON 300 or 301 or consent of the instructor. Limited to 40 students. Fall semester. Professor Kingston.

2017-18: Offered in Fall 2017
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2015

423 The Economics of Finance

A study of the role of financial markets in the efficient allocation of resources. We look at how financial markets: (1) enable the transfer of resources across time and space; (2) facilitate the reduction and management of risk; and (3) provide information about the future, which is important to public policymakers as well as private firms and individuals. The financial theories studied include: (1) the theory of present discounted values; (2) the capital asset pricing model; (3) the efficient markets hypothesis; and (4) the Black-Scholes model for the pricing of contingent claims.

Requisite: MATH 211 AND ECON 300 or 301; or consent of instructor. Limited to 35 students. Fall semester. Professor Woglom.

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Fall 2012, Fall 2014, Fall 2015

425 Microeconomic Foundations of Consumption and Happiness

In the Declaration of Independence, the Founders called the “pursuit of happiness” an “inalienable right,” yet both psychologists and economists have noted that we do not well understand the determinants of the attainment of happiness or contentment. In this course, we will examine the literature on well-being in both micro- and macroeconomic contexts. We will review the neoclassical model of utility maximization and contrast it to other modes of understanding how and why people make the decisions they do, as they pursue their happiness. On the macroeconomic side, we will attempt to understand what factors (e.g. growth, unemployment, inflation) seem most important for policy-makers to focus on in order to sustain their citizens' well-being. The course will also include opportunities for students to examine their own consumption decisions and assumptions about the attainment of happiness. 

Requisite: ECON 300 or 301.  Not open to students who have taken ECON 275.  Limited to 40 students. Omitted 2015-16.  Professor Barbezat.

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2011, Spring 2013, Spring 2015, Fall 2016

435 Topics in Open-Economy Macroeconomics

A seminar in international macroeconomics, with an emphasis on emerging market economies. We will read and discuss empirical research papers. Topics covered will include financial globalization, banking and currency crises, exchange rate regimes, dollarization, and institutions and governance.

Requisite: ECON 330/331, or ECON 235/237 with permission of the instructor.  Limited to 35 students. Fall semester. Professor Honig.

2017-18: Offered in Fall 2017
Other years: Offered in Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Fall 2016

441 Information and Incentives in Macroeconomics

Information frictions are important for a wide variety of questions in macroeconomics and public finance. This course will develop tools from information economics and apply them, primarily to macroeconomic problems.  We will study situations in which adverse selection, moral hazard, limited commitment, and strategic behavior create impediments to trade and prevent private markets from achieving efficient results. Applications can include credit constraints, default and collateral, bank runs, labor market contracts, unemployment, time inconsistency, and social insurance.

The approach of the course is rigorous and analytical, focusing both on providing students with very general modeling skills and on applying these skills to specific economic questions. Requirements will include solving analytical problem sets, as well as reading and discussing theoretical research papers. The course is especially suitable for students interested in mathematical modeling in economics and students considering doing research in economics.

Requisite: ECON 300/301, ECON 330/331, and MATH 211 (or MATH 121 with consent of instructor). This course will routinely use multivariable calculus. Limited to 15 students. Omitted 2015-16. Professor Rabinovich.

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Spring 2017

470 Mechanism Design

Mechanism design uses game theory to design systems, institutions, and mechanisms to achieve desired outcomes. We will study the theory of mechanism design and how it is used to design auctions, tax schemes, and matching mechanisms. The course will approach these issues from a theoretical perspective and also examine real-world applications. Examples will include how Google sells advertising space, how medical students are matched to residencies, and how governments sell bonds. Students will read and discuss current research on these topics and also complete an independent research project related to the course material.Requisite: ECON 301 or 420, MATH 211.  Limited to 18 students.  Omitted 2015-16.  Professor Baisa.

2017-18: Offered in Spring 2018
Other years: Offered in Spring 2015

471 Economic History Seminar

We will begin by examining contemporary growth and development models and then apply them to the sweep of global economic history over the past 300 years. The course is a seminar, so students will be assessed on their close reading and their responses to articles and books assigned in the course. Students will engage directly with economic history issues and will produce an original piece of research by the end of the course.

Requisite: ECON 300 or 301 and 330 or 331. Limited to 15 students. Omitted 2015-16. Professor Barbezat.

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2008, Spring 2010, Fall 2012, Fall 2014

473 History of Economic Thought

Many challenges arise from the interaction between human desires and what is available.  Economics is the study of these challenges.  In this course, we will examine the many ways in which human beings have articulated this interaction and the responses that they have provided.  We will examine the intellectual history of how humans have conceived and managed scarcity on personal (microeconomic) and societal (macroeconomic) levels over time all over the globe. 

Requisite: ECON 300 or 301 and 330 or 331.  Limited to 15 students.  Spring semester.  Professor Barbezat.

2017-18: Offered in Spring 2018
Other years: Offered in Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2016

479 Institutions and Governance

All economic activity is embedded in a framework of institutions including both formal laws and contracts, and informal norms and conventions. Institutions constrain individual behavior and thereby affect resource allocation, income distribution, learning, and economic growth. This course introduces recent approaches to the study of institutions in economics and political science. Particular emphasis will be placed on recent applications to economic history and development, and to theories of institutional stability and change.

Requisite: ECON 420 or consent of the instructor. Limited to 15 students. Spring semester. Professor Kingston.

2017-18: Offered in Spring 2018
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Spring 2011, Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Spring 2016

490, 490H, 290, 390 Special Topics

Independent Reading Course. Full course.

Admission with consent of the instructor.  Fall and spring semesters.

2017-18: Offered in Fall 2017 and Spring 2018
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017

498 Senior Departmental Honors Seminar

A seminar preparing senior economics majors to undertake independent research for their honors projects. Five or six topics of current interest will be studied.

Requisite: An average grade of 11.00 or higher in ECON 300/301, 330/331, and 360/361. Fall semester. Professor Reyes.

2017-18: Offered in Fall 2017
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2016

499 Senior Departmental Honors Project

Independent work under the guidance of an advisor assigned by the Department.

Requisite: ECON 498. Spring semester.

2017-18: Offered in Spring 2018
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2011, Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Spring 2016, Spring 2017

About Amherst College

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Economics

Professors Barbezat, Kingston, Reyes‡, Westhoff‡, Woglom, and B. Yarbrough*; Associate Professors Honig (Chair) and Ishii; Assistant Professors Baisa, Rabinovich*, Raymond, Sims, Singh, and Theoharides; Adjunct Professor R. Yarbrough.

*On leave 2015-16.

‡On leave spring semester 2015-16.

Major Program. Economics majors must take a total of nine courses in economics, which include ECON 111/111E, the core theory courses, and at least two upper-level electives numbered 400 to 490.  Honors students must take a total of ten courses.  All students must successfully complete a comprehensive exam.

In its simplest form, the economics major consists of a total of nine full-semester courses in economics.  These courses include:

• An Introduction to Economics (111/111E)
• Three core theory courses in Microeconomics (300 or 301), Macroeconomics (330 or 331), and Econometrics (360 or 361)
• At least five other courses in economics, usually electives numbered 200-290 or 400-490, at least two of which are numbered 400-490

The following sections clarify the details of these requirements.

Declaring an Economics Major.  It is recommended that students take several economics courses prior to adding the economics major. Students must attain a grade of B or better in ECON 111/111E or a grade of B– or better in an elective (numbered 200-290) before being allowed to add the economics major.  Major declarations should occur by the end of sophomore year, or by the end of junior year at the latest. 

Introduction to Economics. The economics major begins with ECON 111/111E, a survey of current economic issues and problems and an introduction to the basic tools essential for all areas of economics. ECON 111/111E is a requisite for all other courses in economics, and for many courses there is no other requisite. After completing ECON 111/111E a student may enroll in a variety of applied courses. Students may be excused from the requirement of taking ECON 111/111E by demonstrating an adequate understanding of basic economic principles. Four specific ways of being excused from the ECON 111/111E requirement are: (1) Attaining a grade of 4 or 5 on both the macroeconomic and microeconomic portion of the Advanced Placement Exam; (2) Passing a placement exam that is given by the department typically at the beginning of each semester; (3) Attaining a grade of 6 or 7 on the higher level International Baccalaureate in Economics; (4) Attaining a grade of A on the A levels.

Electives.  We offer many electives, covering a wide variety of topics in economics.  The elective courses numbered in the 200s require only Economics 111/111E as a prerequisite, and are most appropriate for students relatively early in their study of economics.  The elective courses numbered in the 400s require one or more of the core theory courses as prerequisites.  They are appropriate for students a bit further along in their study of economics, primarily (though not exclusively) juniors and seniors.

The Core.  All majors must complete the sequence of core theory courses in microeconomics, macroeconomics, and econometrics: ECON 300 or 301, 330 or 331, and 360 or 361. We would like to provide some guidance regarding the core sequence.   First, students must attain a grade of B or better in ECON 111/111E or a grade of B- or better in an elective (numbered 200-290) before registering for a core theory course.  Entering students who pass out of ECON 111/111E may register for a core course with consent of the instructor.   Second, these courses can be taken in any order, but it is recommended that a student take ECON 300/301 or 330/331 before enrolling in ECON 360/361. Third, it is not generally advisable to take more than one of the core theory courses in a given semester. Fourth, students should make every effort to complete the sequence of core theory courses by the end of the Junior year, or at the very latest by the end of the 7th semester (usually the fall semester of senior year).  Failure to do so jeopardizes a student’s chances of graduating with an economics major.  Only in truly exceptional circumstances will exceptions be made to this rule.  Fifth, a student who receives a grade of F in a core theory course must retake that core theory course.  A student who receives a grade of D in a core theory course may not count that course towards the major and must take ECON 390 (a special topics course focusing on that area of core theory) and receive a grade of C- or better in that special topics course.  Sixth, the core theory courses must be completed at Amherst.  In exceptional circumstances, a student may be permitted to substitute a non-Amherst course for one of the core courses. Such exceptions are considered only if a written request is submitted to the Department Chair prior to initiating the other work. 

Departmental Honors Program. To be eligible to enter the honors program, a senior (or second-semester junior in an E Class) must have already completed Microeconomic Theory (ECON 300 or 301), Macroeconomic Theory (ECON 330 or 331) and Econometrics (ECON 360 or 361) with an average grade of 11.00 or higher.  (For reference, conversion equivalents are A = 13, A- = 12, B+ = 11, B = 10, etc.)  No exceptions to this rule will be allowed.  Normally, all these core courses must be taken at Amherst (see above re exceptional circumstances).  Therefore, a student considering writing a thesis and intending to study abroad should plan their course of study carefully, in consultation with economics faculty.  Students who intend to enter the honors program are encouraged to take the advanced core theory courses, to gain some experience doing economic research, and to complete at least one upper-level elective prior to the senior year.  Honors students take ECON 498, the Senior Departmental Honors Seminar, in the fall semester, and complete their honors essay under the guidance of an individual advisor in the spring semester, ECON 499.  ECON 498 and 499 can both be counted towards the major total course requirement (ten courses for honors students).  Successful completion of ECON 498 and 499 will serve to satisfy the comprehensive requirement in economics for honors students. 

Comprehensive Exam. A written comprehensive exam is given during the second week of the second semester to economics majors who have completed the core theory courses.

Graduate Study. Students who intend to pursue graduate study in economics are strongly advised to take additional courses in mathematics. Such students should plan on taking Intermediate Calculus and Linear Algebra, at a minimum, and ideally Multivariable Calculus and Introduction to Analysis in addition.  (The course numbers are: MATH 121, 272, 211, and 355.)

Courses from Other Institutions.  Non-Amherst College courses (including courses taken abroad) may be used as elective courses (excluding the upper-level electives). Such non-Amherst courses must be taught in an economics department and must require at least ECON 111 or equivalent as a prerequisite. The student must receive one full Amherst College course credit for the work. Therefore, if a student were to take five courses abroad, which included two economics courses and for which Amherst College awarded four course credits, the work done abroad would be counted as the equivalent of one elective course in economics. If only one of the five courses were an economics course, the student would not receive any elective credits. Students who transfer to Amherst and wish to receive credit towards the major requirements for previous work must obtain written permission from the Department Chair.

Pass/Fail Courses. ECON 111/111E may be taken on a Pass/Fail basis only by seniors or second semester juniors, and only with the consent of the instructor. Other departmental courses may be taken on a Pass/Fail basis at the discretion of the instructor. Majors may not use the Pass/Fail option in a course used to satisfy a major requirement.

The Economics Student Handbook.  All students considering majoring in economics should read the Economics Student Handbook, which contains important additional information about the economics major.  The Handbook is available on the department webpage and in the department office.

111 An Introduction to Economics

A study of the central problem of scarcity and of the ways in which the U.S. economic system allocates scarce resources among competing ends and apportions the goods produced among people. Two 80-minute and one 50-minute lecture/discussion per week.

Requisite for all other courses in Economics. Limited to 25 Amherst College students fall semester: Professors Ishii, Kingston, Raymond, Theoharides and Westhoff. Limited to 30 Amherst College students spring semester: Professors Baisa, Ishii, Raymond, Singh and Theoharides.

2017-18: Offered in Fall 2017 and Spring 2018
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Spring 2008, Fall 2008, Spring 2009, Fall 2009, Spring 2010, Fall 2010, Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017

111E An Introduction to Economics with Environmental Applications

(Offered as ECON 111E and ENST 230.) A study of the central problem of scarcity and of the ways in which micro and macro economic systems allocate scarce resources among competing ends and apportion goods produced among people.  Covers the same material as ECON 111 but with special attention to the relationship between economic activity and environmental problems and to the application of micro and macroeconomic theory tools to analyze environmental issues. A student may not receive credit for both ECON 111 and ECON 111E. 

Two 80-minute and one 50-minute lecture/discussion per week.  Each section is limited to 25 Amherst College students.  Fall semester. Professor Sims.

2017-18: Offered in Fall 2017 and Spring 2018
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Spring 2008, Fall 2008, Spring 2009, Fall 2009, Spring 2010, Fall 2010, Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017

210 Environmental and Natural Resource Economics

Students in this course will explore society’s use of the natural environment as a component of production and consumption. The allocation of exhaustible and renewable resources and the protection of environmental quality from an economic standpoint will be examined. Public policy avenues for controlling natural resource management and the environment will also be explored. Case studies include air pollution and acid rain, depletion of the ozone layer and the greenhouse effect, the solid waste crisis, and deforestation, among others.

Requisite: ECON 111/111E. Limited to 30 students. Spring semester. Professor Sims.

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2011, Fall 2012, Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Spring 2016

214 Health Economics and Policy

Health care poses many pressing questions: Why do we spend so much on health care?  Does this spending actually produce better health?  How do health care institutions function?  What is the appropriate role of government? How are we to judge the efficiency and equity of health care policy?  By applying economic analysis to health, health care, and health care markets, health economics provides insight into these questions.  In the first section of this course, we will assess the role of health care in the economy and apply economic models to the production of health and health care.  In the second section of the course, we will study the structure of health care markets and the roles of key institutions.  In the third section of the course, we will investigate the role of government and use our acquired knowledge to understand and evaluate health care policy and reform.  Throughout this analysis, we will pay careful attention to the nature of health care markets, the anatomy of market failures, and the implications for public policy.  Empirical results, current issues, and public policies will be discussed throughout the course.  In addition to technical problems and economic analyses, students will be asked to write analytical papers and participate actively in the discussion of current economic research and public policy.

Requisite: ECON 111/111E. Recommended: any one of Microeconomics (ECON 300/301), Econometrics (ECON 360/361), or Statistics (MATH 130). Limited to 35 students. Omitted 2015-16. Professor Reyes.

2017-18: Offered in Fall 2017
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2015

223 Economics of Migration

International migration is a key labor market alternative for many individuals, especially for those from developing countries. This course focuses on the economic underpinnings of the migration decision that culminates in individuals leaving their home country for work abroad. We will begin the course by examining the question of why people migrate. In the second section, we will focus on the effects of migration on migrant-sending developing countries. In the third section, we will examine the impacts of migration on migrant-receiving countries. Through lectures, discussion, debates, and written policy briefs, we will use economics as a toolbox for analyzing the complex issues of migration policy.

Requisite: ECON 111/111E. Limited to 35 students. Fall semester. Professor Theoharides.

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2014, Fall 2015

225 Industrial Organization

This course examines the determinants of and linkages between market structure, firm conduct, and industrial performance. Some of the questions that will be addressed include: Why do some markets have many sellers while others have only few? How and why do different market structures give rise to different prices and outputs? In what ways can firms behave strategically so as to prevent entry or induce exit of rival firms? Under what circumstances can collusion be successful? Why do firms price discriminate? Why do firms advertise? Does a competitive firm or a monopoly have a greater incentive to innovate? In answering these and other questions, the consequent implications for efficiency and public policy will also be explored.

Requisite: ECON 111/111E. Limited to 50 students.  Spring semester.  Professor Ishii.

2017-18: Offered in Spring 2018
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Spring 2011, Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2016

227 International Trade

This course uses microeconomic analysis to examine economic relationships among countries. Issues addressed include why nations trade, the distributional effects of trade, economic growth, factor mobility, and protectionism. Also included are discussions of the special trade-related problems of developing countries and of the history of the international trading system.

Requisite: ECON 111/111E. Limited to 50 students. Omitted 2015-16.  Professor B. Yarbrough.

2017-18: Offered in Fall 2017 and Spring 2018
Other years: Offered in Fall 2008, Spring 2009, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2015

235 Open-Economy Macroeconomics

This course uses macroeconomic analysis to examine economic relationships among countries. Issues addressed include foreign exchange markets, the balance of payments, and the implications of openness for the efficacy of various macroeconomic policies. Also included are discussions of the special macroeconomic problems of developing countries and of the history of the international monetary system. Not open to students who have taken ECON 435.

Requisite: ECON 111/111E. Limited to 50 students. Omitted 2015-16. Professor B. Yarbrough.

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014

237 Financial Globalization, Growth and Crises

This course surveys the recent wave of financial globalization and assesses both its merits and potential risks. In particular, we will examine the most important potential benefit of financial globalization, an increased rate of economic growth that can be a powerful tool in alleviating poverty. We will analyze the theoretical arguments for a growth-enhancing effect of globalization and discuss the empirical evidence. We will then turn to the most important potential drawback: the risk of a devastating financial crisis, particularly in emerging market economies that have only recently opened to international capital movements. Throughout the course we will emphasize the conditions and policies under which financial globalization is likely to be successful. The course will conclude with an analysis of the effect of financial globalization, as well as increased trade openness, on inflation and the conduct of monetary policy.

Requisite: ECON 111/111E.  Limited to 50 students. Consent of the instructor required for students who have taken ECON 435.  Spring semester.  Professor Honig.

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2010, Fall 2010, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Spring 2016

245 Development Economics

An introduction to the historical experience and current economic problems of developing countries, and survey of theories of economic growth and development.  Topics will include economic growth, health, education, urbanization, corruption, technology, aid, gender and institutions.  The course will throw light on market failures in developing countries and show how we can use the tools of economics to understand these problems and to evaluate policy options.

Requisite: ECON 111/111E. Limited to 50 students. Fall semester.  Professor Singh.

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2014, Fall 2015

265 Money and Economic Activity

This course studies the monetary systems that facilitate exchange. Such systems overcame the limitations of barter with commodity monies such as gold, and gradually evolved into financial intermediaries that issue paper notes and bank deposits as money. Intermediaries in markets for insurance, debt, and equity are studied too. Also, the effects of financial markets on aggregate economic activity and the level and term structure of interest rates are studied. Not open to students who have taken ECON 423.

Requisite: ECON 111/111E. Limited to 50 students. Fall semester. Professor Woglom.

2017-18: Offered in Fall 2017
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016

271 Economic History of the United States, 1600-1860

The economic development of the United States provides an excellent starting point for an understanding of both this nation’s history and its current economic situation. We begin with the colonial period and the creation of the nation and end with the Civil War and the breakdown of the Union. Throughout we provide an economic reading of the events and try to explain the conflicts and resolutions in economic terms.

Requisite: ECON 111/111E. Limited to 35 students. Fall semester. Professor Barbezat.

2017-18: Offered in Fall 2017
Other years: Offered in Fall 2010, Fall 2013, Fall 2015

272 Economic History of the United States, 1865-1965

The economic development of the United States provides an excellent starting point for an understanding of both this nation’s history and its current economic situation. We begin with the reconstruction period after the Civil War and end with the Civil Rights Era and the War on Poverty. Throughout we provide an economic reading of the events and try to explain the conflicts and resolutions in economic terms.

Requisite: ECON 111/111E. Limited to 35 students. Spring semester. Professor Barbezat.

2017-18: Offered in Spring 2018
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Fall 2014, Spring 2016, Spring 2017

275 Consumption and the Pursuit of Happiness

In the Declaration of Independence, the Founders called the “pursuit of happiness” an “inalienable right,” yet both psychologists and economists have noted that we do not well understand the determinants of the attainment of happiness or contentment. In this course, we will examine the literature on well-being in both micro- and macroeconomic contexts. We will review the neoclassical model of utility maximization and contrast it to other modes of understanding how and why people make the decisions they do, as they pursue their happiness. On the macroeconomic side, we will attempt to understand what factors (e.g. growth, unemployment, inflation) seem most important for policy-makers to focus on in order to sustain their citizens' well-being. The course will also include opportunities for students to examine their own consumption decisions and assumptions about the attainment of happiness. 

Requisite: ECON 111/111E. Not open to students who have taken ECON 425. Limited to 50 students. Omitted 2015-16.  Professor Barbezat.

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2011, Spring 2013, Spring 2015, Fall 2016

300 Microeconomics

This course develops the tools of modern microeconomic theory and notes their applications to matters of utility and demand; production functions and cost; pricing of output under perfect competition, monopoly, oligopoly, etc.; pricing of productive services; intertemporal decision-making; the economics of uncertainty; efficiency, equity, general equilibrium; externalities and public goods. A student may not receive credit for both ECON 300 and ECON 301.

Requisite: MATH 111, or equivalent and at least a "B" grade in ECON 111/111E or a "B-" in ECON 200-290, or equivalent. Limited to 50 students. Fall semester: Professor Baisa. Spring semester: Professor Singh.

2017-18: Offered in Fall 2017 and Spring 2018
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Spring 2008, Fall 2008, Spring 2009, Fall 2009, Spring 2010, Fall 2010, Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017

301 Advanced Microeconomics

This course covers similar material to that covered in ECON 300 but is mathematically more rigorous and moves at a more rapid pace. A student may not receive credit for both ECON 300 and ECON 301.

Requisite: At least a "B" grade in ECON 111/111E or a "B-" grade in ECON 200-290, or equivalent, and MATH 211 or equivalent, or consent of the instructor. Fall semester. Professor Baisa.

2017-18: Offered in Fall 2017
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2016

330 Macroeconomics

This course develops macroeconomic models of the determinants of economic activity, inflation, unemployment, and economic growth. The models are used to analyze recent monetary and fiscal policy issues in the United States, and also to analyze the controversies separating schools of macroeconomic thought such as the New Keynesians, Monetarists and New Classicals. A student may not receive credit for both ECON 330 and ECON 331.

Requisite: Math 111 or equivalent and at least a "B" grade in ECON 111/111E or a "B-" in ECON 200-290, or equivalent. Limited to 50 students.  Fall semester: Professor Honig. Spring semester: Professor Honig.

2017-18: Offered in Fall 2017 and Spring 2018
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Spring 2008, Fall 2008, Spring 2009, Fall 2009, Spring 2010, Fall 2010, Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017

331 Advanced Macroeconomics

This course covers similar material to that covered in ECON 330 but is mathematically more rigorous and moves at a more rapid pace. A student may not receive credit for both ECON 330 and ECON 331.

Requisite: At least a "B" grade in ECON 111/111E or a "B-" grade in ECON 200-290, or equivalent, and MATH 121 or equivalent, or consent of the instructor. Spring semester. Professor Woglom.

2017-18: Offered in Spring 2018
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2011, Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Spring 2016, Spring 2017

360 Econometrics

A study of the analysis of quantitative data, with special emphasis on the application of statistical methods to economic problems.  A student may not receive credit for both ECON 360 and ECON 361.

Requisite: MATH 111, or equivalent and at least a "B" grade in ECON 111/111E or a "B-" in ECON 200-290, or equivalent. Limited to 50 students.  Fall semester: Professor Westhoff.  Spring semester: Professors Sims and Theoharides.

2017-18: Offered in Fall 2017 and Spring 2018
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Spring 2008, Fall 2008, Spring 2009, Fall 2009, Spring 2010, Fall 2010, Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017

361 Advanced Econometrics

This course studies the specification, estimation, and testing of econometric models based on the maximum likelihood and method of moments principles. It builds from mathematical statistics and utilizes matrix algebra, the rudiments of which will be introduced in the course. The course will also review applications of econometric models to various areas of micro and macroeconomics. A student may not receive credit for both ECON 360 and ECON 361. 

Requisite: At least a "B" grade in ECON 111/111E or a "B-" grade in ECON 200-290, or equivalent, and MATH 211 or equivalent, and STAT 111 (previously MATH 130) or STAT 135 or equivalent. Fall semester.  Professor Ishii.

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2008, Spring 2010, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Spring 2014, Fall 2015, Spring 2017

408 Behavioral Economics

Behavioral economics is an active research field, drawing together people from psychology, economics, political science, and management, among other fields. Economic theory is based on the idea that economic agents are rational and investigates the implications of such rational behavior.  Empirical research has revealed discrepancies between derived "optimal" strategies and the actual behavior of decision makers in domains as varied as labor supply, asset allocation, retail markets and credit card usage.  Based on these empirical findings, behavioral economics questions the assumption of perfect rationality and uses insights from psychology to improve theoretical and empirical predictions of standard economic theory. This course aims to introduce students to this rapidly emerging and important field.

Requisite: ECON 300/301 and MATH 121.  Limited to 35 students. Spring semester. Professor Raymond.

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2016, Spring 2017

410 Microeconomics of Development

The course aims to study the latest research on topics in development economics.  It will focus on both randomized experiments as well as some of the classic microeconomic empirical papers on topics such as health, education, corruption, labor, microfinance and social capital. Students will be required to read and comment on published or working papers every week.  Class participation and peer discussions will be incentivized.  The final project will involve each student answering a question in development economics employing empirical analysis on micro-level data sets already available.

Requisite: Economics 360/361 or permission of instructor. Limited to 15 students. Fall semester. Professor Singh.

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Fall 2015, Spring 2017

412 Applied Microeconomics Seminar

The field of applied microeconomics (“applied micro”) is a fundamentally outward-looking branch of economics. Applied microeconomists take economic theories and methodologies out into the world and apply them to interesting questions of individual behavior and societal outcomes. This upper-level seminar will start with an overview of the field and its methodologies, followed by foundational material in econometric identification and behavioral economics. We will then address substantive areas such as environmental economics, the fetal origins hypothesis, antisocial behavior, economics of crime, and the economics of gender, race, and inequality. Specific topics will vary from year to year. Most of the course will be devoted to close reading of research papers, including discussion of the relative merits of particular theoretical and empirical methodologies. Students will participate actively in class discussion, make oral presentations, evaluate empirical data, and write analytical papers.

Requisite: ECON 300/301 (Microeconomics) and ECON 360/361 (Econometrics). Limited to 15 students. Fall semester. Professor Reyes.

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Spring 2017

416 Evaluating Social Policy

This is an upper-level seminar in social policy which examines a number of social programs in the United States, including Medicaid, the Earned Income Tax Credit, and Temporary Aid to Needy Families. The seminar will introduce you to the operation of these programs and will teach you how to use economic and econometric tools to evaluate them.  Most of the course will be devoted to close reading and discussion of research papers, including discussion of the relative merits of various empirical and econometric techniques.  Students will be asked to participate actively in class discussion, to make oral presentations, to evaluate empirical data, and to write analytical papers.  Throughout the course, we will think broadly about the goals of social policy, always keeping the canonical tradeoff between efficiency and equity at the forefront.  We will also consider the practical challenges faced not only by policymakers in designing effective policies but also by scholars in evaluating the effectiveness of those policies.

Requisite: Microeconomics (ECON 300/301) and Econometrics (ECON 360/361). Limited to 15 students. Fall semester. Professor Reyes.

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2015

420 Game Theory and Applications

Game theory analyzes situations in which multiple individuals (or firms, political parties, countries) interact in a strategic manner. It has proved useful for explaining cooperation and conflict in a wide variety of strategic situations in economics, political science, and elsewhere. Such situations can include, for example, firms interacting in imperfectly competitive markets, auctions, arms races, political competition for votes, and chess. This course will provide an introduction to the tools and insights of game theory. Though mathematically rigorous, emphasis will be on applications rather than on formal theory.

Requisite: ECON 300 or 301 or consent of the instructor. Limited to 40 students. Fall semester. Professor Kingston.

2017-18: Offered in Fall 2017
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2015

423 The Economics of Finance

A study of the role of financial markets in the efficient allocation of resources. We look at how financial markets: (1) enable the transfer of resources across time and space; (2) facilitate the reduction and management of risk; and (3) provide information about the future, which is important to public policymakers as well as private firms and individuals. The financial theories studied include: (1) the theory of present discounted values; (2) the capital asset pricing model; (3) the efficient markets hypothesis; and (4) the Black-Scholes model for the pricing of contingent claims.

Requisite: MATH 211 AND ECON 300 or 301; or consent of instructor. Limited to 35 students. Fall semester. Professor Woglom.

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Fall 2012, Fall 2014, Fall 2015

425 Microeconomic Foundations of Consumption and Happiness

In the Declaration of Independence, the Founders called the “pursuit of happiness” an “inalienable right,” yet both psychologists and economists have noted that we do not well understand the determinants of the attainment of happiness or contentment. In this course, we will examine the literature on well-being in both micro- and macroeconomic contexts. We will review the neoclassical model of utility maximization and contrast it to other modes of understanding how and why people make the decisions they do, as they pursue their happiness. On the macroeconomic side, we will attempt to understand what factors (e.g. growth, unemployment, inflation) seem most important for policy-makers to focus on in order to sustain their citizens' well-being. The course will also include opportunities for students to examine their own consumption decisions and assumptions about the attainment of happiness. 

Requisite: ECON 300 or 301.  Not open to students who have taken ECON 275.  Limited to 40 students. Omitted 2015-16.  Professor Barbezat.

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2011, Spring 2013, Spring 2015, Fall 2016

435 Topics in Open-Economy Macroeconomics

A seminar in international macroeconomics, with an emphasis on emerging market economies. We will read and discuss empirical research papers. Topics covered will include financial globalization, banking and currency crises, exchange rate regimes, dollarization, and institutions and governance.

Requisite: ECON 330/331, or ECON 235/237 with permission of the instructor.  Limited to 35 students. Fall semester. Professor Honig.

2017-18: Offered in Fall 2017
Other years: Offered in Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Fall 2016

441 Information and Incentives in Macroeconomics

Information frictions are important for a wide variety of questions in macroeconomics and public finance. This course will develop tools from information economics and apply them, primarily to macroeconomic problems.  We will study situations in which adverse selection, moral hazard, limited commitment, and strategic behavior create impediments to trade and prevent private markets from achieving efficient results. Applications can include credit constraints, default and collateral, bank runs, labor market contracts, unemployment, time inconsistency, and social insurance.

The approach of the course is rigorous and analytical, focusing both on providing students with very general modeling skills and on applying these skills to specific economic questions. Requirements will include solving analytical problem sets, as well as reading and discussing theoretical research papers. The course is especially suitable for students interested in mathematical modeling in economics and students considering doing research in economics.

Requisite: ECON 300/301, ECON 330/331, and MATH 211 (or MATH 121 with consent of instructor). This course will routinely use multivariable calculus. Limited to 15 students. Omitted 2015-16. Professor Rabinovich.

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Spring 2017

470 Mechanism Design

Mechanism design uses game theory to design systems, institutions, and mechanisms to achieve desired outcomes. We will study the theory of mechanism design and how it is used to design auctions, tax schemes, and matching mechanisms. The course will approach these issues from a theoretical perspective and also examine real-world applications. Examples will include how Google sells advertising space, how medical students are matched to residencies, and how governments sell bonds. Students will read and discuss current research on these topics and also complete an independent research project related to the course material.Requisite: ECON 301 or 420, MATH 211.  Limited to 18 students.  Omitted 2015-16.  Professor Baisa.

2017-18: Offered in Spring 2018
Other years: Offered in Spring 2015

471 Economic History Seminar

We will begin by examining contemporary growth and development models and then apply them to the sweep of global economic history over the past 300 years. The course is a seminar, so students will be assessed on their close reading and their responses to articles and books assigned in the course. Students will engage directly with economic history issues and will produce an original piece of research by the end of the course.

Requisite: ECON 300 or 301 and 330 or 331. Limited to 15 students. Omitted 2015-16. Professor Barbezat.

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2008, Spring 2010, Fall 2012, Fall 2014

473 History of Economic Thought

Many challenges arise from the interaction between human desires and what is available.  Economics is the study of these challenges.  In this course, we will examine the many ways in which human beings have articulated this interaction and the responses that they have provided.  We will examine the intellectual history of how humans have conceived and managed scarcity on personal (microeconomic) and societal (macroeconomic) levels over time all over the globe. 

Requisite: ECON 300 or 301 and 330 or 331.  Limited to 15 students.  Spring semester.  Professor Barbezat.

2017-18: Offered in Spring 2018
Other years: Offered in Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2016

479 Institutions and Governance

All economic activity is embedded in a framework of institutions including both formal laws and contracts, and informal norms and conventions. Institutions constrain individual behavior and thereby affect resource allocation, income distribution, learning, and economic growth. This course introduces recent approaches to the study of institutions in economics and political science. Particular emphasis will be placed on recent applications to economic history and development, and to theories of institutional stability and change.

Requisite: ECON 420 or consent of the instructor. Limited to 15 students. Spring semester. Professor Kingston.

2017-18: Offered in Spring 2018
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Spring 2011, Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Spring 2016

490, 490H, 290, 390 Special Topics

Independent Reading Course. Full course.

Admission with consent of the instructor.  Fall and spring semesters.

2017-18: Offered in Fall 2017 and Spring 2018
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017

498 Senior Departmental Honors Seminar

A seminar preparing senior economics majors to undertake independent research for their honors projects. Five or six topics of current interest will be studied.

Requisite: An average grade of 11.00 or higher in ECON 300/301, 330/331, and 360/361. Fall semester. Professor Reyes.

2017-18: Offered in Fall 2017
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2016

499 Senior Departmental Honors Project

Independent work under the guidance of an advisor assigned by the Department.

Requisite: ECON 498. Spring semester.

2017-18: Offered in Spring 2018
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2011, Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Spring 2016, Spring 2017

Admission & Financial Aid

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Economics

Professors Barbezat, Kingston, Reyes‡, Westhoff‡, Woglom, and B. Yarbrough*; Associate Professors Honig (Chair) and Ishii; Assistant Professors Baisa, Rabinovich*, Raymond, Sims, Singh, and Theoharides; Adjunct Professor R. Yarbrough.

*On leave 2015-16.

‡On leave spring semester 2015-16.

Major Program. Economics majors must take a total of nine courses in economics, which include ECON 111/111E, the core theory courses, and at least two upper-level electives numbered 400 to 490.  Honors students must take a total of ten courses.  All students must successfully complete a comprehensive exam.

In its simplest form, the economics major consists of a total of nine full-semester courses in economics.  These courses include:

• An Introduction to Economics (111/111E)
• Three core theory courses in Microeconomics (300 or 301), Macroeconomics (330 or 331), and Econometrics (360 or 361)
• At least five other courses in economics, usually electives numbered 200-290 or 400-490, at least two of which are numbered 400-490

The following sections clarify the details of these requirements.

Declaring an Economics Major.  It is recommended that students take several economics courses prior to adding the economics major. Students must attain a grade of B or better in ECON 111/111E or a grade of B– or better in an elective (numbered 200-290) before being allowed to add the economics major.  Major declarations should occur by the end of sophomore year, or by the end of junior year at the latest. 

Introduction to Economics. The economics major begins with ECON 111/111E, a survey of current economic issues and problems and an introduction to the basic tools essential for all areas of economics. ECON 111/111E is a requisite for all other courses in economics, and for many courses there is no other requisite. After completing ECON 111/111E a student may enroll in a variety of applied courses. Students may be excused from the requirement of taking ECON 111/111E by demonstrating an adequate understanding of basic economic principles. Four specific ways of being excused from the ECON 111/111E requirement are: (1) Attaining a grade of 4 or 5 on both the macroeconomic and microeconomic portion of the Advanced Placement Exam; (2) Passing a placement exam that is given by the department typically at the beginning of each semester; (3) Attaining a grade of 6 or 7 on the higher level International Baccalaureate in Economics; (4) Attaining a grade of A on the A levels.

Electives.  We offer many electives, covering a wide variety of topics in economics.  The elective courses numbered in the 200s require only Economics 111/111E as a prerequisite, and are most appropriate for students relatively early in their study of economics.  The elective courses numbered in the 400s require one or more of the core theory courses as prerequisites.  They are appropriate for students a bit further along in their study of economics, primarily (though not exclusively) juniors and seniors.

The Core.  All majors must complete the sequence of core theory courses in microeconomics, macroeconomics, and econometrics: ECON 300 or 301, 330 or 331, and 360 or 361. We would like to provide some guidance regarding the core sequence.   First, students must attain a grade of B or better in ECON 111/111E or a grade of B- or better in an elective (numbered 200-290) before registering for a core theory course.  Entering students who pass out of ECON 111/111E may register for a core course with consent of the instructor.   Second, these courses can be taken in any order, but it is recommended that a student take ECON 300/301 or 330/331 before enrolling in ECON 360/361. Third, it is not generally advisable to take more than one of the core theory courses in a given semester. Fourth, students should make every effort to complete the sequence of core theory courses by the end of the Junior year, or at the very latest by the end of the 7th semester (usually the fall semester of senior year).  Failure to do so jeopardizes a student’s chances of graduating with an economics major.  Only in truly exceptional circumstances will exceptions be made to this rule.  Fifth, a student who receives a grade of F in a core theory course must retake that core theory course.  A student who receives a grade of D in a core theory course may not count that course towards the major and must take ECON 390 (a special topics course focusing on that area of core theory) and receive a grade of C- or better in that special topics course.  Sixth, the core theory courses must be completed at Amherst.  In exceptional circumstances, a student may be permitted to substitute a non-Amherst course for one of the core courses. Such exceptions are considered only if a written request is submitted to the Department Chair prior to initiating the other work. 

Departmental Honors Program. To be eligible to enter the honors program, a senior (or second-semester junior in an E Class) must have already completed Microeconomic Theory (ECON 300 or 301), Macroeconomic Theory (ECON 330 or 331) and Econometrics (ECON 360 or 361) with an average grade of 11.00 or higher.  (For reference, conversion equivalents are A = 13, A- = 12, B+ = 11, B = 10, etc.)  No exceptions to this rule will be allowed.  Normally, all these core courses must be taken at Amherst (see above re exceptional circumstances).  Therefore, a student considering writing a thesis and intending to study abroad should plan their course of study carefully, in consultation with economics faculty.  Students who intend to enter the honors program are encouraged to take the advanced core theory courses, to gain some experience doing economic research, and to complete at least one upper-level elective prior to the senior year.  Honors students take ECON 498, the Senior Departmental Honors Seminar, in the fall semester, and complete their honors essay under the guidance of an individual advisor in the spring semester, ECON 499.  ECON 498 and 499 can both be counted towards the major total course requirement (ten courses for honors students).  Successful completion of ECON 498 and 499 will serve to satisfy the comprehensive requirement in economics for honors students. 

Comprehensive Exam. A written comprehensive exam is given during the second week of the second semester to economics majors who have completed the core theory courses.

Graduate Study. Students who intend to pursue graduate study in economics are strongly advised to take additional courses in mathematics. Such students should plan on taking Intermediate Calculus and Linear Algebra, at a minimum, and ideally Multivariable Calculus and Introduction to Analysis in addition.  (The course numbers are: MATH 121, 272, 211, and 355.)

Courses from Other Institutions.  Non-Amherst College courses (including courses taken abroad) may be used as elective courses (excluding the upper-level electives). Such non-Amherst courses must be taught in an economics department and must require at least ECON 111 or equivalent as a prerequisite. The student must receive one full Amherst College course credit for the work. Therefore, if a student were to take five courses abroad, which included two economics courses and for which Amherst College awarded four course credits, the work done abroad would be counted as the equivalent of one elective course in economics. If only one of the five courses were an economics course, the student would not receive any elective credits. Students who transfer to Amherst and wish to receive credit towards the major requirements for previous work must obtain written permission from the Department Chair.

Pass/Fail Courses. ECON 111/111E may be taken on a Pass/Fail basis only by seniors or second semester juniors, and only with the consent of the instructor. Other departmental courses may be taken on a Pass/Fail basis at the discretion of the instructor. Majors may not use the Pass/Fail option in a course used to satisfy a major requirement.

The Economics Student Handbook.  All students considering majoring in economics should read the Economics Student Handbook, which contains important additional information about the economics major.  The Handbook is available on the department webpage and in the department office.

111 An Introduction to Economics

A study of the central problem of scarcity and of the ways in which the U.S. economic system allocates scarce resources among competing ends and apportions the goods produced among people. Two 80-minute and one 50-minute lecture/discussion per week.

Requisite for all other courses in Economics. Limited to 25 Amherst College students fall semester: Professors Ishii, Kingston, Raymond, Theoharides and Westhoff. Limited to 30 Amherst College students spring semester: Professors Baisa, Ishii, Raymond, Singh and Theoharides.

2017-18: Offered in Fall 2017 and Spring 2018
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Spring 2008, Fall 2008, Spring 2009, Fall 2009, Spring 2010, Fall 2010, Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017

111E An Introduction to Economics with Environmental Applications

(Offered as ECON 111E and ENST 230.) A study of the central problem of scarcity and of the ways in which micro and macro economic systems allocate scarce resources among competing ends and apportion goods produced among people.  Covers the same material as ECON 111 but with special attention to the relationship between economic activity and environmental problems and to the application of micro and macroeconomic theory tools to analyze environmental issues. A student may not receive credit for both ECON 111 and ECON 111E. 

Two 80-minute and one 50-minute lecture/discussion per week.  Each section is limited to 25 Amherst College students.  Fall semester. Professor Sims.

2017-18: Offered in Fall 2017 and Spring 2018
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Spring 2008, Fall 2008, Spring 2009, Fall 2009, Spring 2010, Fall 2010, Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017

210 Environmental and Natural Resource Economics

Students in this course will explore society’s use of the natural environment as a component of production and consumption. The allocation of exhaustible and renewable resources and the protection of environmental quality from an economic standpoint will be examined. Public policy avenues for controlling natural resource management and the environment will also be explored. Case studies include air pollution and acid rain, depletion of the ozone layer and the greenhouse effect, the solid waste crisis, and deforestation, among others.

Requisite: ECON 111/111E. Limited to 30 students. Spring semester. Professor Sims.

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2011, Fall 2012, Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Spring 2016

214 Health Economics and Policy

Health care poses many pressing questions: Why do we spend so much on health care?  Does this spending actually produce better health?  How do health care institutions function?  What is the appropriate role of government? How are we to judge the efficiency and equity of health care policy?  By applying economic analysis to health, health care, and health care markets, health economics provides insight into these questions.  In the first section of this course, we will assess the role of health care in the economy and apply economic models to the production of health and health care.  In the second section of the course, we will study the structure of health care markets and the roles of key institutions.  In the third section of the course, we will investigate the role of government and use our acquired knowledge to understand and evaluate health care policy and reform.  Throughout this analysis, we will pay careful attention to the nature of health care markets, the anatomy of market failures, and the implications for public policy.  Empirical results, current issues, and public policies will be discussed throughout the course.  In addition to technical problems and economic analyses, students will be asked to write analytical papers and participate actively in the discussion of current economic research and public policy.

Requisite: ECON 111/111E. Recommended: any one of Microeconomics (ECON 300/301), Econometrics (ECON 360/361), or Statistics (MATH 130). Limited to 35 students. Omitted 2015-16. Professor Reyes.

2017-18: Offered in Fall 2017
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2015

223 Economics of Migration

International migration is a key labor market alternative for many individuals, especially for those from developing countries. This course focuses on the economic underpinnings of the migration decision that culminates in individuals leaving their home country for work abroad. We will begin the course by examining the question of why people migrate. In the second section, we will focus on the effects of migration on migrant-sending developing countries. In the third section, we will examine the impacts of migration on migrant-receiving countries. Through lectures, discussion, debates, and written policy briefs, we will use economics as a toolbox for analyzing the complex issues of migration policy.

Requisite: ECON 111/111E. Limited to 35 students. Fall semester. Professor Theoharides.

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2014, Fall 2015

225 Industrial Organization

This course examines the determinants of and linkages between market structure, firm conduct, and industrial performance. Some of the questions that will be addressed include: Why do some markets have many sellers while others have only few? How and why do different market structures give rise to different prices and outputs? In what ways can firms behave strategically so as to prevent entry or induce exit of rival firms? Under what circumstances can collusion be successful? Why do firms price discriminate? Why do firms advertise? Does a competitive firm or a monopoly have a greater incentive to innovate? In answering these and other questions, the consequent implications for efficiency and public policy will also be explored.

Requisite: ECON 111/111E. Limited to 50 students.  Spring semester.  Professor Ishii.

2017-18: Offered in Spring 2018
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Spring 2011, Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2016

227 International Trade

This course uses microeconomic analysis to examine economic relationships among countries. Issues addressed include why nations trade, the distributional effects of trade, economic growth, factor mobility, and protectionism. Also included are discussions of the special trade-related problems of developing countries and of the history of the international trading system.

Requisite: ECON 111/111E. Limited to 50 students. Omitted 2015-16.  Professor B. Yarbrough.

2017-18: Offered in Fall 2017 and Spring 2018
Other years: Offered in Fall 2008, Spring 2009, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2015

235 Open-Economy Macroeconomics

This course uses macroeconomic analysis to examine economic relationships among countries. Issues addressed include foreign exchange markets, the balance of payments, and the implications of openness for the efficacy of various macroeconomic policies. Also included are discussions of the special macroeconomic problems of developing countries and of the history of the international monetary system. Not open to students who have taken ECON 435.

Requisite: ECON 111/111E. Limited to 50 students. Omitted 2015-16. Professor B. Yarbrough.

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014

237 Financial Globalization, Growth and Crises

This course surveys the recent wave of financial globalization and assesses both its merits and potential risks. In particular, we will examine the most important potential benefit of financial globalization, an increased rate of economic growth that can be a powerful tool in alleviating poverty. We will analyze the theoretical arguments for a growth-enhancing effect of globalization and discuss the empirical evidence. We will then turn to the most important potential drawback: the risk of a devastating financial crisis, particularly in emerging market economies that have only recently opened to international capital movements. Throughout the course we will emphasize the conditions and policies under which financial globalization is likely to be successful. The course will conclude with an analysis of the effect of financial globalization, as well as increased trade openness, on inflation and the conduct of monetary policy.

Requisite: ECON 111/111E.  Limited to 50 students. Consent of the instructor required for students who have taken ECON 435.  Spring semester.  Professor Honig.

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2010, Fall 2010, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Spring 2016

245 Development Economics

An introduction to the historical experience and current economic problems of developing countries, and survey of theories of economic growth and development.  Topics will include economic growth, health, education, urbanization, corruption, technology, aid, gender and institutions.  The course will throw light on market failures in developing countries and show how we can use the tools of economics to understand these problems and to evaluate policy options.

Requisite: ECON 111/111E. Limited to 50 students. Fall semester.  Professor Singh.

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2014, Fall 2015

265 Money and Economic Activity

This course studies the monetary systems that facilitate exchange. Such systems overcame the limitations of barter with commodity monies such as gold, and gradually evolved into financial intermediaries that issue paper notes and bank deposits as money. Intermediaries in markets for insurance, debt, and equity are studied too. Also, the effects of financial markets on aggregate economic activity and the level and term structure of interest rates are studied. Not open to students who have taken ECON 423.

Requisite: ECON 111/111E. Limited to 50 students. Fall semester. Professor Woglom.

2017-18: Offered in Fall 2017
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016

271 Economic History of the United States, 1600-1860

The economic development of the United States provides an excellent starting point for an understanding of both this nation’s history and its current economic situation. We begin with the colonial period and the creation of the nation and end with the Civil War and the breakdown of the Union. Throughout we provide an economic reading of the events and try to explain the conflicts and resolutions in economic terms.

Requisite: ECON 111/111E. Limited to 35 students. Fall semester. Professor Barbezat.

2017-18: Offered in Fall 2017
Other years: Offered in Fall 2010, Fall 2013, Fall 2015

272 Economic History of the United States, 1865-1965

The economic development of the United States provides an excellent starting point for an understanding of both this nation’s history and its current economic situation. We begin with the reconstruction period after the Civil War and end with the Civil Rights Era and the War on Poverty. Throughout we provide an economic reading of the events and try to explain the conflicts and resolutions in economic terms.

Requisite: ECON 111/111E. Limited to 35 students. Spring semester. Professor Barbezat.

2017-18: Offered in Spring 2018
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Fall 2014, Spring 2016, Spring 2017

275 Consumption and the Pursuit of Happiness

In the Declaration of Independence, the Founders called the “pursuit of happiness” an “inalienable right,” yet both psychologists and economists have noted that we do not well understand the determinants of the attainment of happiness or contentment. In this course, we will examine the literature on well-being in both micro- and macroeconomic contexts. We will review the neoclassical model of utility maximization and contrast it to other modes of understanding how and why people make the decisions they do, as they pursue their happiness. On the macroeconomic side, we will attempt to understand what factors (e.g. growth, unemployment, inflation) seem most important for policy-makers to focus on in order to sustain their citizens' well-being. The course will also include opportunities for students to examine their own consumption decisions and assumptions about the attainment of happiness. 

Requisite: ECON 111/111E. Not open to students who have taken ECON 425. Limited to 50 students. Omitted 2015-16.  Professor Barbezat.

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2011, Spring 2013, Spring 2015, Fall 2016

300 Microeconomics

This course develops the tools of modern microeconomic theory and notes their applications to matters of utility and demand; production functions and cost; pricing of output under perfect competition, monopoly, oligopoly, etc.; pricing of productive services; intertemporal decision-making; the economics of uncertainty; efficiency, equity, general equilibrium; externalities and public goods. A student may not receive credit for both ECON 300 and ECON 301.

Requisite: MATH 111, or equivalent and at least a "B" grade in ECON 111/111E or a "B-" in ECON 200-290, or equivalent. Limited to 50 students. Fall semester: Professor Baisa. Spring semester: Professor Singh.

2017-18: Offered in Fall 2017 and Spring 2018
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Spring 2008, Fall 2008, Spring 2009, Fall 2009, Spring 2010, Fall 2010, Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017

301 Advanced Microeconomics

This course covers similar material to that covered in ECON 300 but is mathematically more rigorous and moves at a more rapid pace. A student may not receive credit for both ECON 300 and ECON 301.

Requisite: At least a "B" grade in ECON 111/111E or a "B-" grade in ECON 200-290, or equivalent, and MATH 211 or equivalent, or consent of the instructor. Fall semester. Professor Baisa.

2017-18: Offered in Fall 2017
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2016

330 Macroeconomics

This course develops macroeconomic models of the determinants of economic activity, inflation, unemployment, and economic growth. The models are used to analyze recent monetary and fiscal policy issues in the United States, and also to analyze the controversies separating schools of macroeconomic thought such as the New Keynesians, Monetarists and New Classicals. A student may not receive credit for both ECON 330 and ECON 331.

Requisite: Math 111 or equivalent and at least a "B" grade in ECON 111/111E or a "B-" in ECON 200-290, or equivalent. Limited to 50 students.  Fall semester: Professor Honig. Spring semester: Professor Honig.

2017-18: Offered in Fall 2017 and Spring 2018
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Spring 2008, Fall 2008, Spring 2009, Fall 2009, Spring 2010, Fall 2010, Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017

331 Advanced Macroeconomics

This course covers similar material to that covered in ECON 330 but is mathematically more rigorous and moves at a more rapid pace. A student may not receive credit for both ECON 330 and ECON 331.

Requisite: At least a "B" grade in ECON 111/111E or a "B-" grade in ECON 200-290, or equivalent, and MATH 121 or equivalent, or consent of the instructor. Spring semester. Professor Woglom.

2017-18: Offered in Spring 2018
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2011, Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Spring 2016, Spring 2017

360 Econometrics

A study of the analysis of quantitative data, with special emphasis on the application of statistical methods to economic problems.  A student may not receive credit for both ECON 360 and ECON 361.

Requisite: MATH 111, or equivalent and at least a "B" grade in ECON 111/111E or a "B-" in ECON 200-290, or equivalent. Limited to 50 students.  Fall semester: Professor Westhoff.  Spring semester: Professors Sims and Theoharides.

2017-18: Offered in Fall 2017 and Spring 2018
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Spring 2008, Fall 2008, Spring 2009, Fall 2009, Spring 2010, Fall 2010, Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017

361 Advanced Econometrics

This course studies the specification, estimation, and testing of econometric models based on the maximum likelihood and method of moments principles. It builds from mathematical statistics and utilizes matrix algebra, the rudiments of which will be introduced in the course. The course will also review applications of econometric models to various areas of micro and macroeconomics. A student may not receive credit for both ECON 360 and ECON 361. 

Requisite: At least a "B" grade in ECON 111/111E or a "B-" grade in ECON 200-290, or equivalent, and MATH 211 or equivalent, and STAT 111 (previously MATH 130) or STAT 135 or equivalent. Fall semester.  Professor Ishii.

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2008, Spring 2010, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Spring 2014, Fall 2015, Spring 2017

408 Behavioral Economics

Behavioral economics is an active research field, drawing together people from psychology, economics, political science, and management, among other fields. Economic theory is based on the idea that economic agents are rational and investigates the implications of such rational behavior.  Empirical research has revealed discrepancies between derived "optimal" strategies and the actual behavior of decision makers in domains as varied as labor supply, asset allocation, retail markets and credit card usage.  Based on these empirical findings, behavioral economics questions the assumption of perfect rationality and uses insights from psychology to improve theoretical and empirical predictions of standard economic theory. This course aims to introduce students to this rapidly emerging and important field.

Requisite: ECON 300/301 and MATH 121.  Limited to 35 students. Spring semester. Professor Raymond.

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2016, Spring 2017

410 Microeconomics of Development

The course aims to study the latest research on topics in development economics.  It will focus on both randomized experiments as well as some of the classic microeconomic empirical papers on topics such as health, education, corruption, labor, microfinance and social capital. Students will be required to read and comment on published or working papers every week.  Class participation and peer discussions will be incentivized.  The final project will involve each student answering a question in development economics employing empirical analysis on micro-level data sets already available.

Requisite: Economics 360/361 or permission of instructor. Limited to 15 students. Fall semester. Professor Singh.

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Fall 2015, Spring 2017

412 Applied Microeconomics Seminar

The field of applied microeconomics (“applied micro”) is a fundamentally outward-looking branch of economics. Applied microeconomists take economic theories and methodologies out into the world and apply them to interesting questions of individual behavior and societal outcomes. This upper-level seminar will start with an overview of the field and its methodologies, followed by foundational material in econometric identification and behavioral economics. We will then address substantive areas such as environmental economics, the fetal origins hypothesis, antisocial behavior, economics of crime, and the economics of gender, race, and inequality. Specific topics will vary from year to year. Most of the course will be devoted to close reading of research papers, including discussion of the relative merits of particular theoretical and empirical methodologies. Students will participate actively in class discussion, make oral presentations, evaluate empirical data, and write analytical papers.

Requisite: ECON 300/301 (Microeconomics) and ECON 360/361 (Econometrics). Limited to 15 students. Fall semester. Professor Reyes.

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Spring 2017

416 Evaluating Social Policy

This is an upper-level seminar in social policy which examines a number of social programs in the United States, including Medicaid, the Earned Income Tax Credit, and Temporary Aid to Needy Families. The seminar will introduce you to the operation of these programs and will teach you how to use economic and econometric tools to evaluate them.  Most of the course will be devoted to close reading and discussion of research papers, including discussion of the relative merits of various empirical and econometric techniques.  Students will be asked to participate actively in class discussion, to make oral presentations, to evaluate empirical data, and to write analytical papers.  Throughout the course, we will think broadly about the goals of social policy, always keeping the canonical tradeoff between efficiency and equity at the forefront.  We will also consider the practical challenges faced not only by policymakers in designing effective policies but also by scholars in evaluating the effectiveness of those policies.

Requisite: Microeconomics (ECON 300/301) and Econometrics (ECON 360/361). Limited to 15 students. Fall semester. Professor Reyes.

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2015

420 Game Theory and Applications

Game theory analyzes situations in which multiple individuals (or firms, political parties, countries) interact in a strategic manner. It has proved useful for explaining cooperation and conflict in a wide variety of strategic situations in economics, political science, and elsewhere. Such situations can include, for example, firms interacting in imperfectly competitive markets, auctions, arms races, political competition for votes, and chess. This course will provide an introduction to the tools and insights of game theory. Though mathematically rigorous, emphasis will be on applications rather than on formal theory.

Requisite: ECON 300 or 301 or consent of the instructor. Limited to 40 students. Fall semester. Professor Kingston.

2017-18: Offered in Fall 2017
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2015

423 The Economics of Finance

A study of the role of financial markets in the efficient allocation of resources. We look at how financial markets: (1) enable the transfer of resources across time and space; (2) facilitate the reduction and management of risk; and (3) provide information about the future, which is important to public policymakers as well as private firms and individuals. The financial theories studied include: (1) the theory of present discounted values; (2) the capital asset pricing model; (3) the efficient markets hypothesis; and (4) the Black-Scholes model for the pricing of contingent claims.

Requisite: MATH 211 AND ECON 300 or 301; or consent of instructor. Limited to 35 students. Fall semester. Professor Woglom.

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Fall 2012, Fall 2014, Fall 2015

425 Microeconomic Foundations of Consumption and Happiness

In the Declaration of Independence, the Founders called the “pursuit of happiness” an “inalienable right,” yet both psychologists and economists have noted that we do not well understand the determinants of the attainment of happiness or contentment. In this course, we will examine the literature on well-being in both micro- and macroeconomic contexts. We will review the neoclassical model of utility maximization and contrast it to other modes of understanding how and why people make the decisions they do, as they pursue their happiness. On the macroeconomic side, we will attempt to understand what factors (e.g. growth, unemployment, inflation) seem most important for policy-makers to focus on in order to sustain their citizens' well-being. The course will also include opportunities for students to examine their own consumption decisions and assumptions about the attainment of happiness. 

Requisite: ECON 300 or 301.  Not open to students who have taken ECON 275.  Limited to 40 students. Omitted 2015-16.  Professor Barbezat.

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2011, Spring 2013, Spring 2015, Fall 2016

435 Topics in Open-Economy Macroeconomics

A seminar in international macroeconomics, with an emphasis on emerging market economies. We will read and discuss empirical research papers. Topics covered will include financial globalization, banking and currency crises, exchange rate regimes, dollarization, and institutions and governance.

Requisite: ECON 330/331, or ECON 235/237 with permission of the instructor.  Limited to 35 students. Fall semester. Professor Honig.

2017-18: Offered in Fall 2017
Other years: Offered in Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Fall 2016

441 Information and Incentives in Macroeconomics

Information frictions are important for a wide variety of questions in macroeconomics and public finance. This course will develop tools from information economics and apply them, primarily to macroeconomic problems.  We will study situations in which adverse selection, moral hazard, limited commitment, and strategic behavior create impediments to trade and prevent private markets from achieving efficient results. Applications can include credit constraints, default and collateral, bank runs, labor market contracts, unemployment, time inconsistency, and social insurance.

The approach of the course is rigorous and analytical, focusing both on providing students with very general modeling skills and on applying these skills to specific economic questions. Requirements will include solving analytical problem sets, as well as reading and discussing theoretical research papers. The course is especially suitable for students interested in mathematical modeling in economics and students considering doing research in economics.

Requisite: ECON 300/301, ECON 330/331, and MATH 211 (or MATH 121 with consent of instructor). This course will routinely use multivariable calculus. Limited to 15 students. Omitted 2015-16. Professor Rabinovich.

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Spring 2017

470 Mechanism Design

Mechanism design uses game theory to design systems, institutions, and mechanisms to achieve desired outcomes. We will study the theory of mechanism design and how it is used to design auctions, tax schemes, and matching mechanisms. The course will approach these issues from a theoretical perspective and also examine real-world applications. Examples will include how Google sells advertising space, how medical students are matched to residencies, and how governments sell bonds. Students will read and discuss current research on these topics and also complete an independent research project related to the course material.Requisite: ECON 301 or 420, MATH 211.  Limited to 18 students.  Omitted 2015-16.  Professor Baisa.

2017-18: Offered in Spring 2018
Other years: Offered in Spring 2015

471 Economic History Seminar

We will begin by examining contemporary growth and development models and then apply them to the sweep of global economic history over the past 300 years. The course is a seminar, so students will be assessed on their close reading and their responses to articles and books assigned in the course. Students will engage directly with economic history issues and will produce an original piece of research by the end of the course.

Requisite: ECON 300 or 301 and 330 or 331. Limited to 15 students. Omitted 2015-16. Professor Barbezat.

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2008, Spring 2010, Fall 2012, Fall 2014

473 History of Economic Thought

Many challenges arise from the interaction between human desires and what is available.  Economics is the study of these challenges.  In this course, we will examine the many ways in which human beings have articulated this interaction and the responses that they have provided.  We will examine the intellectual history of how humans have conceived and managed scarcity on personal (microeconomic) and societal (macroeconomic) levels over time all over the globe. 

Requisite: ECON 300 or 301 and 330 or 331.  Limited to 15 students.  Spring semester.  Professor Barbezat.

2017-18: Offered in Spring 2018
Other years: Offered in Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2016

479 Institutions and Governance

All economic activity is embedded in a framework of institutions including both formal laws and contracts, and informal norms and conventions. Institutions constrain individual behavior and thereby affect resource allocation, income distribution, learning, and economic growth. This course introduces recent approaches to the study of institutions in economics and political science. Particular emphasis will be placed on recent applications to economic history and development, and to theories of institutional stability and change.

Requisite: ECON 420 or consent of the instructor. Limited to 15 students. Spring semester. Professor Kingston.

2017-18: Offered in Spring 2018
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Spring 2011, Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Spring 2016

490, 490H, 290, 390 Special Topics

Independent Reading Course. Full course.

Admission with consent of the instructor.  Fall and spring semesters.

2017-18: Offered in Fall 2017 and Spring 2018
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017

498 Senior Departmental Honors Seminar

A seminar preparing senior economics majors to undertake independent research for their honors projects. Five or six topics of current interest will be studied.

Requisite: An average grade of 11.00 or higher in ECON 300/301, 330/331, and 360/361. Fall semester. Professor Reyes.

2017-18: Offered in Fall 2017
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2016

499 Senior Departmental Honors Project

Independent work under the guidance of an advisor assigned by the Department.

Requisite: ECON 498. Spring semester.

2017-18: Offered in Spring 2018
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2011, Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Spring 2016, Spring 2017

Regulations & Requirements

View Index

Economics

Professors Barbezat, Kingston, Reyes‡, Westhoff‡, Woglom, and B. Yarbrough*; Associate Professors Honig (Chair) and Ishii; Assistant Professors Baisa, Rabinovich*, Raymond, Sims, Singh, and Theoharides; Adjunct Professor R. Yarbrough.

*On leave 2015-16.

‡On leave spring semester 2015-16.

Major Program. Economics majors must take a total of nine courses in economics, which include ECON 111/111E, the core theory courses, and at least two upper-level electives numbered 400 to 490.  Honors students must take a total of ten courses.  All students must successfully complete a comprehensive exam.

In its simplest form, the economics major consists of a total of nine full-semester courses in economics.  These courses include:

• An Introduction to Economics (111/111E)
• Three core theory courses in Microeconomics (300 or 301), Macroeconomics (330 or 331), and Econometrics (360 or 361)
• At least five other courses in economics, usually electives numbered 200-290 or 400-490, at least two of which are numbered 400-490

The following sections clarify the details of these requirements.

Declaring an Economics Major.  It is recommended that students take several economics courses prior to adding the economics major. Students must attain a grade of B or better in ECON 111/111E or a grade of B– or better in an elective (numbered 200-290) before being allowed to add the economics major.  Major declarations should occur by the end of sophomore year, or by the end of junior year at the latest. 

Introduction to Economics. The economics major begins with ECON 111/111E, a survey of current economic issues and problems and an introduction to the basic tools essential for all areas of economics. ECON 111/111E is a requisite for all other courses in economics, and for many courses there is no other requisite. After completing ECON 111/111E a student may enroll in a variety of applied courses. Students may be excused from the requirement of taking ECON 111/111E by demonstrating an adequate understanding of basic economic principles. Four specific ways of being excused from the ECON 111/111E requirement are: (1) Attaining a grade of 4 or 5 on both the macroeconomic and microeconomic portion of the Advanced Placement Exam; (2) Passing a placement exam that is given by the department typically at the beginning of each semester; (3) Attaining a grade of 6 or 7 on the higher level International Baccalaureate in Economics; (4) Attaining a grade of A on the A levels.

Electives.  We offer many electives, covering a wide variety of topics in economics.  The elective courses numbered in the 200s require only Economics 111/111E as a prerequisite, and are most appropriate for students relatively early in their study of economics.  The elective courses numbered in the 400s require one or more of the core theory courses as prerequisites.  They are appropriate for students a bit further along in their study of economics, primarily (though not exclusively) juniors and seniors.

The Core.  All majors must complete the sequence of core theory courses in microeconomics, macroeconomics, and econometrics: ECON 300 or 301, 330 or 331, and 360 or 361. We would like to provide some guidance regarding the core sequence.   First, students must attain a grade of B or better in ECON 111/111E or a grade of B- or better in an elective (numbered 200-290) before registering for a core theory course.  Entering students who pass out of ECON 111/111E may register for a core course with consent of the instructor.   Second, these courses can be taken in any order, but it is recommended that a student take ECON 300/301 or 330/331 before enrolling in ECON 360/361. Third, it is not generally advisable to take more than one of the core theory courses in a given semester. Fourth, students should make every effort to complete the sequence of core theory courses by the end of the Junior year, or at the very latest by the end of the 7th semester (usually the fall semester of senior year).  Failure to do so jeopardizes a student’s chances of graduating with an economics major.  Only in truly exceptional circumstances will exceptions be made to this rule.  Fifth, a student who receives a grade of F in a core theory course must retake that core theory course.  A student who receives a grade of D in a core theory course may not count that course towards the major and must take ECON 390 (a special topics course focusing on that area of core theory) and receive a grade of C- or better in that special topics course.  Sixth, the core theory courses must be completed at Amherst.  In exceptional circumstances, a student may be permitted to substitute a non-Amherst course for one of the core courses. Such exceptions are considered only if a written request is submitted to the Department Chair prior to initiating the other work. 

Departmental Honors Program. To be eligible to enter the honors program, a senior (or second-semester junior in an E Class) must have already completed Microeconomic Theory (ECON 300 or 301), Macroeconomic Theory (ECON 330 or 331) and Econometrics (ECON 360 or 361) with an average grade of 11.00 or higher.  (For reference, conversion equivalents are A = 13, A- = 12, B+ = 11, B = 10, etc.)  No exceptions to this rule will be allowed.  Normally, all these core courses must be taken at Amherst (see above re exceptional circumstances).  Therefore, a student considering writing a thesis and intending to study abroad should plan their course of study carefully, in consultation with economics faculty.  Students who intend to enter the honors program are encouraged to take the advanced core theory courses, to gain some experience doing economic research, and to complete at least one upper-level elective prior to the senior year.  Honors students take ECON 498, the Senior Departmental Honors Seminar, in the fall semester, and complete their honors essay under the guidance of an individual advisor in the spring semester, ECON 499.  ECON 498 and 499 can both be counted towards the major total course requirement (ten courses for honors students).  Successful completion of ECON 498 and 499 will serve to satisfy the comprehensive requirement in economics for honors students. 

Comprehensive Exam. A written comprehensive exam is given during the second week of the second semester to economics majors who have completed the core theory courses.

Graduate Study. Students who intend to pursue graduate study in economics are strongly advised to take additional courses in mathematics. Such students should plan on taking Intermediate Calculus and Linear Algebra, at a minimum, and ideally Multivariable Calculus and Introduction to Analysis in addition.  (The course numbers are: MATH 121, 272, 211, and 355.)

Courses from Other Institutions.  Non-Amherst College courses (including courses taken abroad) may be used as elective courses (excluding the upper-level electives). Such non-Amherst courses must be taught in an economics department and must require at least ECON 111 or equivalent as a prerequisite. The student must receive one full Amherst College course credit for the work. Therefore, if a student were to take five courses abroad, which included two economics courses and for which Amherst College awarded four course credits, the work done abroad would be counted as the equivalent of one elective course in economics. If only one of the five courses were an economics course, the student would not receive any elective credits. Students who transfer to Amherst and wish to receive credit towards the major requirements for previous work must obtain written permission from the Department Chair.

Pass/Fail Courses. ECON 111/111E may be taken on a Pass/Fail basis only by seniors or second semester juniors, and only with the consent of the instructor. Other departmental courses may be taken on a Pass/Fail basis at the discretion of the instructor. Majors may not use the Pass/Fail option in a course used to satisfy a major requirement.

The Economics Student Handbook.  All students considering majoring in economics should read the Economics Student Handbook, which contains important additional information about the economics major.  The Handbook is available on the department webpage and in the department office.

111 An Introduction to Economics

A study of the central problem of scarcity and of the ways in which the U.S. economic system allocates scarce resources among competing ends and apportions the goods produced among people. Two 80-minute and one 50-minute lecture/discussion per week.

Requisite for all other courses in Economics. Limited to 25 Amherst College students fall semester: Professors Ishii, Kingston, Raymond, Theoharides and Westhoff. Limited to 30 Amherst College students spring semester: Professors Baisa, Ishii, Raymond, Singh and Theoharides.

2017-18: Offered in Fall 2017 and Spring 2018
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Spring 2008, Fall 2008, Spring 2009, Fall 2009, Spring 2010, Fall 2010, Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017

111E An Introduction to Economics with Environmental Applications

(Offered as ECON 111E and ENST 230.) A study of the central problem of scarcity and of the ways in which micro and macro economic systems allocate scarce resources among competing ends and apportion goods produced among people.  Covers the same material as ECON 111 but with special attention to the relationship between economic activity and environmental problems and to the application of micro and macroeconomic theory tools to analyze environmental issues. A student may not receive credit for both ECON 111 and ECON 111E. 

Two 80-minute and one 50-minute lecture/discussion per week.  Each section is limited to 25 Amherst College students.  Fall semester. Professor Sims.

2017-18: Offered in Fall 2017 and Spring 2018
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Spring 2008, Fall 2008, Spring 2009, Fall 2009, Spring 2010, Fall 2010, Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017

210 Environmental and Natural Resource Economics

Students in this course will explore society’s use of the natural environment as a component of production and consumption. The allocation of exhaustible and renewable resources and the protection of environmental quality from an economic standpoint will be examined. Public policy avenues for controlling natural resource management and the environment will also be explored. Case studies include air pollution and acid rain, depletion of the ozone layer and the greenhouse effect, the solid waste crisis, and deforestation, among others.

Requisite: ECON 111/111E. Limited to 30 students. Spring semester. Professor Sims.

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2011, Fall 2012, Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Spring 2016

214 Health Economics and Policy

Health care poses many pressing questions: Why do we spend so much on health care?  Does this spending actually produce better health?  How do health care institutions function?  What is the appropriate role of government? How are we to judge the efficiency and equity of health care policy?  By applying economic analysis to health, health care, and health care markets, health economics provides insight into these questions.  In the first section of this course, we will assess the role of health care in the economy and apply economic models to the production of health and health care.  In the second section of the course, we will study the structure of health care markets and the roles of key institutions.  In the third section of the course, we will investigate the role of government and use our acquired knowledge to understand and evaluate health care policy and reform.  Throughout this analysis, we will pay careful attention to the nature of health care markets, the anatomy of market failures, and the implications for public policy.  Empirical results, current issues, and public policies will be discussed throughout the course.  In addition to technical problems and economic analyses, students will be asked to write analytical papers and participate actively in the discussion of current economic research and public policy.

Requisite: ECON 111/111E. Recommended: any one of Microeconomics (ECON 300/301), Econometrics (ECON 360/361), or Statistics (MATH 130). Limited to 35 students. Omitted 2015-16. Professor Reyes.

2017-18: Offered in Fall 2017
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2015

223 Economics of Migration

International migration is a key labor market alternative for many individuals, especially for those from developing countries. This course focuses on the economic underpinnings of the migration decision that culminates in individuals leaving their home country for work abroad. We will begin the course by examining the question of why people migrate. In the second section, we will focus on the effects of migration on migrant-sending developing countries. In the third section, we will examine the impacts of migration on migrant-receiving countries. Through lectures, discussion, debates, and written policy briefs, we will use economics as a toolbox for analyzing the complex issues of migration policy.

Requisite: ECON 111/111E. Limited to 35 students. Fall semester. Professor Theoharides.

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2014, Fall 2015

225 Industrial Organization

This course examines the determinants of and linkages between market structure, firm conduct, and industrial performance. Some of the questions that will be addressed include: Why do some markets have many sellers while others have only few? How and why do different market structures give rise to different prices and outputs? In what ways can firms behave strategically so as to prevent entry or induce exit of rival firms? Under what circumstances can collusion be successful? Why do firms price discriminate? Why do firms advertise? Does a competitive firm or a monopoly have a greater incentive to innovate? In answering these and other questions, the consequent implications for efficiency and public policy will also be explored.

Requisite: ECON 111/111E. Limited to 50 students.  Spring semester.  Professor Ishii.

2017-18: Offered in Spring 2018
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Spring 2011, Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2016

227 International Trade

This course uses microeconomic analysis to examine economic relationships among countries. Issues addressed include why nations trade, the distributional effects of trade, economic growth, factor mobility, and protectionism. Also included are discussions of the special trade-related problems of developing countries and of the history of the international trading system.

Requisite: ECON 111/111E. Limited to 50 students. Omitted 2015-16.  Professor B. Yarbrough.

2017-18: Offered in Fall 2017 and Spring 2018
Other years: Offered in Fall 2008, Spring 2009, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2015

235 Open-Economy Macroeconomics

This course uses macroeconomic analysis to examine economic relationships among countries. Issues addressed include foreign exchange markets, the balance of payments, and the implications of openness for the efficacy of various macroeconomic policies. Also included are discussions of the special macroeconomic problems of developing countries and of the history of the international monetary system. Not open to students who have taken ECON 435.

Requisite: ECON 111/111E. Limited to 50 students. Omitted 2015-16. Professor B. Yarbrough.

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014

237 Financial Globalization, Growth and Crises

This course surveys the recent wave of financial globalization and assesses both its merits and potential risks. In particular, we will examine the most important potential benefit of financial globalization, an increased rate of economic growth that can be a powerful tool in alleviating poverty. We will analyze the theoretical arguments for a growth-enhancing effect of globalization and discuss the empirical evidence. We will then turn to the most important potential drawback: the risk of a devastating financial crisis, particularly in emerging market economies that have only recently opened to international capital movements. Throughout the course we will emphasize the conditions and policies under which financial globalization is likely to be successful. The course will conclude with an analysis of the effect of financial globalization, as well as increased trade openness, on inflation and the conduct of monetary policy.

Requisite: ECON 111/111E.  Limited to 50 students. Consent of the instructor required for students who have taken ECON 435.  Spring semester.  Professor Honig.

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2010, Fall 2010, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Spring 2016

245 Development Economics

An introduction to the historical experience and current economic problems of developing countries, and survey of theories of economic growth and development.  Topics will include economic growth, health, education, urbanization, corruption, technology, aid, gender and institutions.  The course will throw light on market failures in developing countries and show how we can use the tools of economics to understand these problems and to evaluate policy options.

Requisite: ECON 111/111E. Limited to 50 students. Fall semester.  Professor Singh.

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2014, Fall 2015

265 Money and Economic Activity

This course studies the monetary systems that facilitate exchange. Such systems overcame the limitations of barter with commodity monies such as gold, and gradually evolved into financial intermediaries that issue paper notes and bank deposits as money. Intermediaries in markets for insurance, debt, and equity are studied too. Also, the effects of financial markets on aggregate economic activity and the level and term structure of interest rates are studied. Not open to students who have taken ECON 423.

Requisite: ECON 111/111E. Limited to 50 students. Fall semester. Professor Woglom.

2017-18: Offered in Fall 2017
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016

271 Economic History of the United States, 1600-1860

The economic development of the United States provides an excellent starting point for an understanding of both this nation’s history and its current economic situation. We begin with the colonial period and the creation of the nation and end with the Civil War and the breakdown of the Union. Throughout we provide an economic reading of the events and try to explain the conflicts and resolutions in economic terms.

Requisite: ECON 111/111E. Limited to 35 students. Fall semester. Professor Barbezat.

2017-18: Offered in Fall 2017
Other years: Offered in Fall 2010, Fall 2013, Fall 2015

272 Economic History of the United States, 1865-1965

The economic development of the United States provides an excellent starting point for an understanding of both this nation’s history and its current economic situation. We begin with the reconstruction period after the Civil War and end with the Civil Rights Era and the War on Poverty. Throughout we provide an economic reading of the events and try to explain the conflicts and resolutions in economic terms.

Requisite: ECON 111/111E. Limited to 35 students. Spring semester. Professor Barbezat.

2017-18: Offered in Spring 2018
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Fall 2014, Spring 2016, Spring 2017

275 Consumption and the Pursuit of Happiness

In the Declaration of Independence, the Founders called the “pursuit of happiness” an “inalienable right,” yet both psychologists and economists have noted that we do not well understand the determinants of the attainment of happiness or contentment. In this course, we will examine the literature on well-being in both micro- and macroeconomic contexts. We will review the neoclassical model of utility maximization and contrast it to other modes of understanding how and why people make the decisions they do, as they pursue their happiness. On the macroeconomic side, we will attempt to understand what factors (e.g. growth, unemployment, inflation) seem most important for policy-makers to focus on in order to sustain their citizens' well-being. The course will also include opportunities for students to examine their own consumption decisions and assumptions about the attainment of happiness. 

Requisite: ECON 111/111E. Not open to students who have taken ECON 425. Limited to 50 students. Omitted 2015-16.  Professor Barbezat.

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2011, Spring 2013, Spring 2015, Fall 2016

300 Microeconomics

This course develops the tools of modern microeconomic theory and notes their applications to matters of utility and demand; production functions and cost; pricing of output under perfect competition, monopoly, oligopoly, etc.; pricing of productive services; intertemporal decision-making; the economics of uncertainty; efficiency, equity, general equilibrium; externalities and public goods. A student may not receive credit for both ECON 300 and ECON 301.

Requisite: MATH 111, or equivalent and at least a "B" grade in ECON 111/111E or a "B-" in ECON 200-290, or equivalent. Limited to 50 students. Fall semester: Professor Baisa. Spring semester: Professor Singh.

2017-18: Offered in Fall 2017 and Spring 2018
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Spring 2008, Fall 2008, Spring 2009, Fall 2009, Spring 2010, Fall 2010, Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017

301 Advanced Microeconomics

This course covers similar material to that covered in ECON 300 but is mathematically more rigorous and moves at a more rapid pace. A student may not receive credit for both ECON 300 and ECON 301.

Requisite: At least a "B" grade in ECON 111/111E or a "B-" grade in ECON 200-290, or equivalent, and MATH 211 or equivalent, or consent of the instructor. Fall semester. Professor Baisa.

2017-18: Offered in Fall 2017
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2016

330 Macroeconomics

This course develops macroeconomic models of the determinants of economic activity, inflation, unemployment, and economic growth. The models are used to analyze recent monetary and fiscal policy issues in the United States, and also to analyze the controversies separating schools of macroeconomic thought such as the New Keynesians, Monetarists and New Classicals. A student may not receive credit for both ECON 330 and ECON 331.

Requisite: Math 111 or equivalent and at least a "B" grade in ECON 111/111E or a "B-" in ECON 200-290, or equivalent. Limited to 50 students.  Fall semester: Professor Honig. Spring semester: Professor Honig.

2017-18: Offered in Fall 2017 and Spring 2018
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Spring 2008, Fall 2008, Spring 2009, Fall 2009, Spring 2010, Fall 2010, Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017

331 Advanced Macroeconomics

This course covers similar material to that covered in ECON 330 but is mathematically more rigorous and moves at a more rapid pace. A student may not receive credit for both ECON 330 and ECON 331.

Requisite: At least a "B" grade in ECON 111/111E or a "B-" grade in ECON 200-290, or equivalent, and MATH 121 or equivalent, or consent of the instructor. Spring semester. Professor Woglom.

2017-18: Offered in Spring 2018
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2011, Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Spring 2016, Spring 2017

360 Econometrics

A study of the analysis of quantitative data, with special emphasis on the application of statistical methods to economic problems.  A student may not receive credit for both ECON 360 and ECON 361.

Requisite: MATH 111, or equivalent and at least a "B" grade in ECON 111/111E or a "B-" in ECON 200-290, or equivalent. Limited to 50 students.  Fall semester: Professor Westhoff.  Spring semester: Professors Sims and Theoharides.

2017-18: Offered in Fall 2017 and Spring 2018
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Spring 2008, Fall 2008, Spring 2009, Fall 2009, Spring 2010, Fall 2010, Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017

361 Advanced Econometrics

This course studies the specification, estimation, and testing of econometric models based on the maximum likelihood and method of moments principles. It builds from mathematical statistics and utilizes matrix algebra, the rudiments of which will be introduced in the course. The course will also review applications of econometric models to various areas of micro and macroeconomics. A student may not receive credit for both ECON 360 and ECON 361. 

Requisite: At least a "B" grade in ECON 111/111E or a "B-" grade in ECON 200-290, or equivalent, and MATH 211 or equivalent, and STAT 111 (previously MATH 130) or STAT 135 or equivalent. Fall semester.  Professor Ishii.

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2008, Spring 2010, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Spring 2014, Fall 2015, Spring 2017

408 Behavioral Economics

Behavioral economics is an active research field, drawing together people from psychology, economics, political science, and management, among other fields. Economic theory is based on the idea that economic agents are rational and investigates the implications of such rational behavior.  Empirical research has revealed discrepancies between derived "optimal" strategies and the actual behavior of decision makers in domains as varied as labor supply, asset allocation, retail markets and credit card usage.  Based on these empirical findings, behavioral economics questions the assumption of perfect rationality and uses insights from psychology to improve theoretical and empirical predictions of standard economic theory. This course aims to introduce students to this rapidly emerging and important field.

Requisite: ECON 300/301 and MATH 121.  Limited to 35 students. Spring semester. Professor Raymond.

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2016, Spring 2017

410 Microeconomics of Development

The course aims to study the latest research on topics in development economics.  It will focus on both randomized experiments as well as some of the classic microeconomic empirical papers on topics such as health, education, corruption, labor, microfinance and social capital. Students will be required to read and comment on published or working papers every week.  Class participation and peer discussions will be incentivized.  The final project will involve each student answering a question in development economics employing empirical analysis on micro-level data sets already available.

Requisite: Economics 360/361 or permission of instructor. Limited to 15 students. Fall semester. Professor Singh.

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Fall 2015, Spring 2017

412 Applied Microeconomics Seminar

The field of applied microeconomics (“applied micro”) is a fundamentally outward-looking branch of economics. Applied microeconomists take economic theories and methodologies out into the world and apply them to interesting questions of individual behavior and societal outcomes. This upper-level seminar will start with an overview of the field and its methodologies, followed by foundational material in econometric identification and behavioral economics. We will then address substantive areas such as environmental economics, the fetal origins hypothesis, antisocial behavior, economics of crime, and the economics of gender, race, and inequality. Specific topics will vary from year to year. Most of the course will be devoted to close reading of research papers, including discussion of the relative merits of particular theoretical and empirical methodologies. Students will participate actively in class discussion, make oral presentations, evaluate empirical data, and write analytical papers.

Requisite: ECON 300/301 (Microeconomics) and ECON 360/361 (Econometrics). Limited to 15 students. Fall semester. Professor Reyes.

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Spring 2017

416 Evaluating Social Policy

This is an upper-level seminar in social policy which examines a number of social programs in the United States, including Medicaid, the Earned Income Tax Credit, and Temporary Aid to Needy Families. The seminar will introduce you to the operation of these programs and will teach you how to use economic and econometric tools to evaluate them.  Most of the course will be devoted to close reading and discussion of research papers, including discussion of the relative merits of various empirical and econometric techniques.  Students will be asked to participate actively in class discussion, to make oral presentations, to evaluate empirical data, and to write analytical papers.  Throughout the course, we will think broadly about the goals of social policy, always keeping the canonical tradeoff between efficiency and equity at the forefront.  We will also consider the practical challenges faced not only by policymakers in designing effective policies but also by scholars in evaluating the effectiveness of those policies.

Requisite: Microeconomics (ECON 300/301) and Econometrics (ECON 360/361). Limited to 15 students. Fall semester. Professor Reyes.

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2015

420 Game Theory and Applications

Game theory analyzes situations in which multiple individuals (or firms, political parties, countries) interact in a strategic manner. It has proved useful for explaining cooperation and conflict in a wide variety of strategic situations in economics, political science, and elsewhere. Such situations can include, for example, firms interacting in imperfectly competitive markets, auctions, arms races, political competition for votes, and chess. This course will provide an introduction to the tools and insights of game theory. Though mathematically rigorous, emphasis will be on applications rather than on formal theory.

Requisite: ECON 300 or 301 or consent of the instructor. Limited to 40 students. Fall semester. Professor Kingston.

2017-18: Offered in Fall 2017
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2015

423 The Economics of Finance

A study of the role of financial markets in the efficient allocation of resources. We look at how financial markets: (1) enable the transfer of resources across time and space; (2) facilitate the reduction and management of risk; and (3) provide information about the future, which is important to public policymakers as well as private firms and individuals. The financial theories studied include: (1) the theory of present discounted values; (2) the capital asset pricing model; (3) the efficient markets hypothesis; and (4) the Black-Scholes model for the pricing of contingent claims.

Requisite: MATH 211 AND ECON 300 or 301; or consent of instructor. Limited to 35 students. Fall semester. Professor Woglom.

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Fall 2012, Fall 2014, Fall 2015

425 Microeconomic Foundations of Consumption and Happiness

In the Declaration of Independence, the Founders called the “pursuit of happiness” an “inalienable right,” yet both psychologists and economists have noted that we do not well understand the determinants of the attainment of happiness or contentment. In this course, we will examine the literature on well-being in both micro- and macroeconomic contexts. We will review the neoclassical model of utility maximization and contrast it to other modes of understanding how and why people make the decisions they do, as they pursue their happiness. On the macroeconomic side, we will attempt to understand what factors (e.g. growth, unemployment, inflation) seem most important for policy-makers to focus on in order to sustain their citizens' well-being. The course will also include opportunities for students to examine their own consumption decisions and assumptions about the attainment of happiness. 

Requisite: ECON 300 or 301.  Not open to students who have taken ECON 275.  Limited to 40 students. Omitted 2015-16.  Professor Barbezat.

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2011, Spring 2013, Spring 2015, Fall 2016

435 Topics in Open-Economy Macroeconomics

A seminar in international macroeconomics, with an emphasis on emerging market economies. We will read and discuss empirical research papers. Topics covered will include financial globalization, banking and currency crises, exchange rate regimes, dollarization, and institutions and governance.

Requisite: ECON 330/331, or ECON 235/237 with permission of the instructor.  Limited to 35 students. Fall semester. Professor Honig.

2017-18: Offered in Fall 2017
Other years: Offered in Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Fall 2016

441 Information and Incentives in Macroeconomics

Information frictions are important for a wide variety of questions in macroeconomics and public finance. This course will develop tools from information economics and apply them, primarily to macroeconomic problems.  We will study situations in which adverse selection, moral hazard, limited commitment, and strategic behavior create impediments to trade and prevent private markets from achieving efficient results. Applications can include credit constraints, default and collateral, bank runs, labor market contracts, unemployment, time inconsistency, and social insurance.

The approach of the course is rigorous and analytical, focusing both on providing students with very general modeling skills and on applying these skills to specific economic questions. Requirements will include solving analytical problem sets, as well as reading and discussing theoretical research papers. The course is especially suitable for students interested in mathematical modeling in economics and students considering doing research in economics.

Requisite: ECON 300/301, ECON 330/331, and MATH 211 (or MATH 121 with consent of instructor). This course will routinely use multivariable calculus. Limited to 15 students. Omitted 2015-16. Professor Rabinovich.

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Spring 2017

470 Mechanism Design

Mechanism design uses game theory to design systems, institutions, and mechanisms to achieve desired outcomes. We will study the theory of mechanism design and how it is used to design auctions, tax schemes, and matching mechanisms. The course will approach these issues from a theoretical perspective and also examine real-world applications. Examples will include how Google sells advertising space, how medical students are matched to residencies, and how governments sell bonds. Students will read and discuss current research on these topics and also complete an independent research project related to the course material.Requisite: ECON 301 or 420, MATH 211.  Limited to 18 students.  Omitted 2015-16.  Professor Baisa.

2017-18: Offered in Spring 2018
Other years: Offered in Spring 2015

471 Economic History Seminar

We will begin by examining contemporary growth and development models and then apply them to the sweep of global economic history over the past 300 years. The course is a seminar, so students will be assessed on their close reading and their responses to articles and books assigned in the course. Students will engage directly with economic history issues and will produce an original piece of research by the end of the course.

Requisite: ECON 300 or 301 and 330 or 331. Limited to 15 students. Omitted 2015-16. Professor Barbezat.

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2008, Spring 2010, Fall 2012, Fall 2014

473 History of Economic Thought

Many challenges arise from the interaction between human desires and what is available.  Economics is the study of these challenges.  In this course, we will examine the many ways in which human beings have articulated this interaction and the responses that they have provided.  We will examine the intellectual history of how humans have conceived and managed scarcity on personal (microeconomic) and societal (macroeconomic) levels over time all over the globe. 

Requisite: ECON 300 or 301 and 330 or 331.  Limited to 15 students.  Spring semester.  Professor Barbezat.

2017-18: Offered in Spring 2018
Other years: Offered in Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2016

479 Institutions and Governance

All economic activity is embedded in a framework of institutions including both formal laws and contracts, and informal norms and conventions. Institutions constrain individual behavior and thereby affect resource allocation, income distribution, learning, and economic growth. This course introduces recent approaches to the study of institutions in economics and political science. Particular emphasis will be placed on recent applications to economic history and development, and to theories of institutional stability and change.

Requisite: ECON 420 or consent of the instructor. Limited to 15 students. Spring semester. Professor Kingston.

2017-18: Offered in Spring 2018
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Spring 2011, Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Spring 2016

490, 490H, 290, 390 Special Topics

Independent Reading Course. Full course.

Admission with consent of the instructor.  Fall and spring semesters.

2017-18: Offered in Fall 2017 and Spring 2018
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017

498 Senior Departmental Honors Seminar

A seminar preparing senior economics majors to undertake independent research for their honors projects. Five or six topics of current interest will be studied.

Requisite: An average grade of 11.00 or higher in ECON 300/301, 330/331, and 360/361. Fall semester. Professor Reyes.

2017-18: Offered in Fall 2017
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2016

499 Senior Departmental Honors Project

Independent work under the guidance of an advisor assigned by the Department.

Requisite: ECON 498. Spring semester.

2017-18: Offered in Spring 2018
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2011, Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Spring 2016, Spring 2017

Amherst College Courses

View Index

Economics

Professors Barbezat, Kingston, Reyes‡, Westhoff‡, Woglom, and B. Yarbrough*; Associate Professors Honig (Chair) and Ishii; Assistant Professors Baisa, Rabinovich*, Raymond, Sims, Singh, and Theoharides; Adjunct Professor R. Yarbrough.

*On leave 2015-16.

‡On leave spring semester 2015-16.

Major Program. Economics majors must take a total of nine courses in economics, which include ECON 111/111E, the core theory courses, and at least two upper-level electives numbered 400 to 490.  Honors students must take a total of ten courses.  All students must successfully complete a comprehensive exam.

In its simplest form, the economics major consists of a total of nine full-semester courses in economics.  These courses include:

• An Introduction to Economics (111/111E)
• Three core theory courses in Microeconomics (300 or 301), Macroeconomics (330 or 331), and Econometrics (360 or 361)
• At least five other courses in economics, usually electives numbered 200-290 or 400-490, at least two of which are numbered 400-490

The following sections clarify the details of these requirements.

Declaring an Economics Major.  It is recommended that students take several economics courses prior to adding the economics major. Students must attain a grade of B or better in ECON 111/111E or a grade of B– or better in an elective (numbered 200-290) before being allowed to add the economics major.  Major declarations should occur by the end of sophomore year, or by the end of junior year at the latest. 

Introduction to Economics. The economics major begins with ECON 111/111E, a survey of current economic issues and problems and an introduction to the basic tools essential for all areas of economics. ECON 111/111E is a requisite for all other courses in economics, and for many courses there is no other requisite. After completing ECON 111/111E a student may enroll in a variety of applied courses. Students may be excused from the requirement of taking ECON 111/111E by demonstrating an adequate understanding of basic economic principles. Four specific ways of being excused from the ECON 111/111E requirement are: (1) Attaining a grade of 4 or 5 on both the macroeconomic and microeconomic portion of the Advanced Placement Exam; (2) Passing a placement exam that is given by the department typically at the beginning of each semester; (3) Attaining a grade of 6 or 7 on the higher level International Baccalaureate in Economics; (4) Attaining a grade of A on the A levels.

Electives.  We offer many electives, covering a wide variety of topics in economics.  The elective courses numbered in the 200s require only Economics 111/111E as a prerequisite, and are most appropriate for students relatively early in their study of economics.  The elective courses numbered in the 400s require one or more of the core theory courses as prerequisites.  They are appropriate for students a bit further along in their study of economics, primarily (though not exclusively) juniors and seniors.

The Core.  All majors must complete the sequence of core theory courses in microeconomics, macroeconomics, and econometrics: ECON 300 or 301, 330 or 331, and 360 or 361. We would like to provide some guidance regarding the core sequence.   First, students must attain a grade of B or better in ECON 111/111E or a grade of B- or better in an elective (numbered 200-290) before registering for a core theory course.  Entering students who pass out of ECON 111/111E may register for a core course with consent of the instructor.   Second, these courses can be taken in any order, but it is recommended that a student take ECON 300/301 or 330/331 before enrolling in ECON 360/361. Third, it is not generally advisable to take more than one of the core theory courses in a given semester. Fourth, students should make every effort to complete the sequence of core theory courses by the end of the Junior year, or at the very latest by the end of the 7th semester (usually the fall semester of senior year).  Failure to do so jeopardizes a student’s chances of graduating with an economics major.  Only in truly exceptional circumstances will exceptions be made to this rule.  Fifth, a student who receives a grade of F in a core theory course must retake that core theory course.  A student who receives a grade of D in a core theory course may not count that course towards the major and must take ECON 390 (a special topics course focusing on that area of core theory) and receive a grade of C- or better in that special topics course.  Sixth, the core theory courses must be completed at Amherst.  In exceptional circumstances, a student may be permitted to substitute a non-Amherst course for one of the core courses. Such exceptions are considered only if a written request is submitted to the Department Chair prior to initiating the other work. 

Departmental Honors Program. To be eligible to enter the honors program, a senior (or second-semester junior in an E Class) must have already completed Microeconomic Theory (ECON 300 or 301), Macroeconomic Theory (ECON 330 or 331) and Econometrics (ECON 360 or 361) with an average grade of 11.00 or higher.  (For reference, conversion equivalents are A = 13, A- = 12, B+ = 11, B = 10, etc.)  No exceptions to this rule will be allowed.  Normally, all these core courses must be taken at Amherst (see above re exceptional circumstances).  Therefore, a student considering writing a thesis and intending to study abroad should plan their course of study carefully, in consultation with economics faculty.  Students who intend to enter the honors program are encouraged to take the advanced core theory courses, to gain some experience doing economic research, and to complete at least one upper-level elective prior to the senior year.  Honors students take ECON 498, the Senior Departmental Honors Seminar, in the fall semester, and complete their honors essay under the guidance of an individual advisor in the spring semester, ECON 499.  ECON 498 and 499 can both be counted towards the major total course requirement (ten courses for honors students).  Successful completion of ECON 498 and 499 will serve to satisfy the comprehensive requirement in economics for honors students. 

Comprehensive Exam. A written comprehensive exam is given during the second week of the second semester to economics majors who have completed the core theory courses.

Graduate Study. Students who intend to pursue graduate study in economics are strongly advised to take additional courses in mathematics. Such students should plan on taking Intermediate Calculus and Linear Algebra, at a minimum, and ideally Multivariable Calculus and Introduction to Analysis in addition.  (The course numbers are: MATH 121, 272, 211, and 355.)

Courses from Other Institutions.  Non-Amherst College courses (including courses taken abroad) may be used as elective courses (excluding the upper-level electives). Such non-Amherst courses must be taught in an economics department and must require at least ECON 111 or equivalent as a prerequisite. The student must receive one full Amherst College course credit for the work. Therefore, if a student were to take five courses abroad, which included two economics courses and for which Amherst College awarded four course credits, the work done abroad would be counted as the equivalent of one elective course in economics. If only one of the five courses were an economics course, the student would not receive any elective credits. Students who transfer to Amherst and wish to receive credit towards the major requirements for previous work must obtain written permission from the Department Chair.

Pass/Fail Courses. ECON 111/111E may be taken on a Pass/Fail basis only by seniors or second semester juniors, and only with the consent of the instructor. Other departmental courses may be taken on a Pass/Fail basis at the discretion of the instructor. Majors may not use the Pass/Fail option in a course used to satisfy a major requirement.

The Economics Student Handbook.  All students considering majoring in economics should read the Economics Student Handbook, which contains important additional information about the economics major.  The Handbook is available on the department webpage and in the department office.

111 An Introduction to Economics

A study of the central problem of scarcity and of the ways in which the U.S. economic system allocates scarce resources among competing ends and apportions the goods produced among people. Two 80-minute and one 50-minute lecture/discussion per week.

Requisite for all other courses in Economics. Limited to 25 Amherst College students fall semester: Professors Ishii, Kingston, Raymond, Theoharides and Westhoff. Limited to 30 Amherst College students spring semester: Professors Baisa, Ishii, Raymond, Singh and Theoharides.

2017-18: Offered in Fall 2017 and Spring 2018
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Spring 2008, Fall 2008, Spring 2009, Fall 2009, Spring 2010, Fall 2010, Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017

111E An Introduction to Economics with Environmental Applications

(Offered as ECON 111E and ENST 230.) A study of the central problem of scarcity and of the ways in which micro and macro economic systems allocate scarce resources among competing ends and apportion goods produced among people.  Covers the same material as ECON 111 but with special attention to the relationship between economic activity and environmental problems and to the application of micro and macroeconomic theory tools to analyze environmental issues. A student may not receive credit for both ECON 111 and ECON 111E. 

Two 80-minute and one 50-minute lecture/discussion per week.  Each section is limited to 25 Amherst College students.  Fall semester. Professor Sims.

2017-18: Offered in Fall 2017 and Spring 2018
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Spring 2008, Fall 2008, Spring 2009, Fall 2009, Spring 2010, Fall 2010, Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017

210 Environmental and Natural Resource Economics

Students in this course will explore society’s use of the natural environment as a component of production and consumption. The allocation of exhaustible and renewable resources and the protection of environmental quality from an economic standpoint will be examined. Public policy avenues for controlling natural resource management and the environment will also be explored. Case studies include air pollution and acid rain, depletion of the ozone layer and the greenhouse effect, the solid waste crisis, and deforestation, among others.

Requisite: ECON 111/111E. Limited to 30 students. Spring semester. Professor Sims.

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2011, Fall 2012, Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Spring 2016

214 Health Economics and Policy

Health care poses many pressing questions: Why do we spend so much on health care?  Does this spending actually produce better health?  How do health care institutions function?  What is the appropriate role of government? How are we to judge the efficiency and equity of health care policy?  By applying economic analysis to health, health care, and health care markets, health economics provides insight into these questions.  In the first section of this course, we will assess the role of health care in the economy and apply economic models to the production of health and health care.  In the second section of the course, we will study the structure of health care markets and the roles of key institutions.  In the third section of the course, we will investigate the role of government and use our acquired knowledge to understand and evaluate health care policy and reform.  Throughout this analysis, we will pay careful attention to the nature of health care markets, the anatomy of market failures, and the implications for public policy.  Empirical results, current issues, and public policies will be discussed throughout the course.  In addition to technical problems and economic analyses, students will be asked to write analytical papers and participate actively in the discussion of current economic research and public policy.

Requisite: ECON 111/111E. Recommended: any one of Microeconomics (ECON 300/301), Econometrics (ECON 360/361), or Statistics (MATH 130). Limited to 35 students. Omitted 2015-16. Professor Reyes.

2017-18: Offered in Fall 2017
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2015

223 Economics of Migration

International migration is a key labor market alternative for many individuals, especially for those from developing countries. This course focuses on the economic underpinnings of the migration decision that culminates in individuals leaving their home country for work abroad. We will begin the course by examining the question of why people migrate. In the second section, we will focus on the effects of migration on migrant-sending developing countries. In the third section, we will examine the impacts of migration on migrant-receiving countries. Through lectures, discussion, debates, and written policy briefs, we will use economics as a toolbox for analyzing the complex issues of migration policy.

Requisite: ECON 111/111E. Limited to 35 students. Fall semester. Professor Theoharides.

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2014, Fall 2015

225 Industrial Organization

This course examines the determinants of and linkages between market structure, firm conduct, and industrial performance. Some of the questions that will be addressed include: Why do some markets have many sellers while others have only few? How and why do different market structures give rise to different prices and outputs? In what ways can firms behave strategically so as to prevent entry or induce exit of rival firms? Under what circumstances can collusion be successful? Why do firms price discriminate? Why do firms advertise? Does a competitive firm or a monopoly have a greater incentive to innovate? In answering these and other questions, the consequent implications for efficiency and public policy will also be explored.

Requisite: ECON 111/111E. Limited to 50 students.  Spring semester.  Professor Ishii.

2017-18: Offered in Spring 2018
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Spring 2011, Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2016

227 International Trade

This course uses microeconomic analysis to examine economic relationships among countries. Issues addressed include why nations trade, the distributional effects of trade, economic growth, factor mobility, and protectionism. Also included are discussions of the special trade-related problems of developing countries and of the history of the international trading system.

Requisite: ECON 111/111E. Limited to 50 students. Omitted 2015-16.  Professor B. Yarbrough.

2017-18: Offered in Fall 2017 and Spring 2018
Other years: Offered in Fall 2008, Spring 2009, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2015

235 Open-Economy Macroeconomics

This course uses macroeconomic analysis to examine economic relationships among countries. Issues addressed include foreign exchange markets, the balance of payments, and the implications of openness for the efficacy of various macroeconomic policies. Also included are discussions of the special macroeconomic problems of developing countries and of the history of the international monetary system. Not open to students who have taken ECON 435.

Requisite: ECON 111/111E. Limited to 50 students. Omitted 2015-16. Professor B. Yarbrough.

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014

237 Financial Globalization, Growth and Crises

This course surveys the recent wave of financial globalization and assesses both its merits and potential risks. In particular, we will examine the most important potential benefit of financial globalization, an increased rate of economic growth that can be a powerful tool in alleviating poverty. We will analyze the theoretical arguments for a growth-enhancing effect of globalization and discuss the empirical evidence. We will then turn to the most important potential drawback: the risk of a devastating financial crisis, particularly in emerging market economies that have only recently opened to international capital movements. Throughout the course we will emphasize the conditions and policies under which financial globalization is likely to be successful. The course will conclude with an analysis of the effect of financial globalization, as well as increased trade openness, on inflation and the conduct of monetary policy.

Requisite: ECON 111/111E.  Limited to 50 students. Consent of the instructor required for students who have taken ECON 435.  Spring semester.  Professor Honig.

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2010, Fall 2010, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Spring 2016

245 Development Economics

An introduction to the historical experience and current economic problems of developing countries, and survey of theories of economic growth and development.  Topics will include economic growth, health, education, urbanization, corruption, technology, aid, gender and institutions.  The course will throw light on market failures in developing countries and show how we can use the tools of economics to understand these problems and to evaluate policy options.

Requisite: ECON 111/111E. Limited to 50 students. Fall semester.  Professor Singh.

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2014, Fall 2015

265 Money and Economic Activity

This course studies the monetary systems that facilitate exchange. Such systems overcame the limitations of barter with commodity monies such as gold, and gradually evolved into financial intermediaries that issue paper notes and bank deposits as money. Intermediaries in markets for insurance, debt, and equity are studied too. Also, the effects of financial markets on aggregate economic activity and the level and term structure of interest rates are studied. Not open to students who have taken ECON 423.

Requisite: ECON 111/111E. Limited to 50 students. Fall semester. Professor Woglom.

2017-18: Offered in Fall 2017
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016

271 Economic History of the United States, 1600-1860

The economic development of the United States provides an excellent starting point for an understanding of both this nation’s history and its current economic situation. We begin with the colonial period and the creation of the nation and end with the Civil War and the breakdown of the Union. Throughout we provide an economic reading of the events and try to explain the conflicts and resolutions in economic terms.

Requisite: ECON 111/111E. Limited to 35 students. Fall semester. Professor Barbezat.

2017-18: Offered in Fall 2017
Other years: Offered in Fall 2010, Fall 2013, Fall 2015

272 Economic History of the United States, 1865-1965

The economic development of the United States provides an excellent starting point for an understanding of both this nation’s history and its current economic situation. We begin with the reconstruction period after the Civil War and end with the Civil Rights Era and the War on Poverty. Throughout we provide an economic reading of the events and try to explain the conflicts and resolutions in economic terms.

Requisite: ECON 111/111E. Limited to 35 students. Spring semester. Professor Barbezat.

2017-18: Offered in Spring 2018
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Fall 2014, Spring 2016, Spring 2017

275 Consumption and the Pursuit of Happiness

In the Declaration of Independence, the Founders called the “pursuit of happiness” an “inalienable right,” yet both psychologists and economists have noted that we do not well understand the determinants of the attainment of happiness or contentment. In this course, we will examine the literature on well-being in both micro- and macroeconomic contexts. We will review the neoclassical model of utility maximization and contrast it to other modes of understanding how and why people make the decisions they do, as they pursue their happiness. On the macroeconomic side, we will attempt to understand what factors (e.g. growth, unemployment, inflation) seem most important for policy-makers to focus on in order to sustain their citizens' well-being. The course will also include opportunities for students to examine their own consumption decisions and assumptions about the attainment of happiness. 

Requisite: ECON 111/111E. Not open to students who have taken ECON 425. Limited to 50 students. Omitted 2015-16.  Professor Barbezat.

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2011, Spring 2013, Spring 2015, Fall 2016

300 Microeconomics

This course develops the tools of modern microeconomic theory and notes their applications to matters of utility and demand; production functions and cost; pricing of output under perfect competition, monopoly, oligopoly, etc.; pricing of productive services; intertemporal decision-making; the economics of uncertainty; efficiency, equity, general equilibrium; externalities and public goods. A student may not receive credit for both ECON 300 and ECON 301.

Requisite: MATH 111, or equivalent and at least a "B" grade in ECON 111/111E or a "B-" in ECON 200-290, or equivalent. Limited to 50 students. Fall semester: Professor Baisa. Spring semester: Professor Singh.

2017-18: Offered in Fall 2017 and Spring 2018
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Spring 2008, Fall 2008, Spring 2009, Fall 2009, Spring 2010, Fall 2010, Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017

301 Advanced Microeconomics

This course covers similar material to that covered in ECON 300 but is mathematically more rigorous and moves at a more rapid pace. A student may not receive credit for both ECON 300 and ECON 301.

Requisite: At least a "B" grade in ECON 111/111E or a "B-" grade in ECON 200-290, or equivalent, and MATH 211 or equivalent, or consent of the instructor. Fall semester. Professor Baisa.

2017-18: Offered in Fall 2017
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2016

330 Macroeconomics

This course develops macroeconomic models of the determinants of economic activity, inflation, unemployment, and economic growth. The models are used to analyze recent monetary and fiscal policy issues in the United States, and also to analyze the controversies separating schools of macroeconomic thought such as the New Keynesians, Monetarists and New Classicals. A student may not receive credit for both ECON 330 and ECON 331.

Requisite: Math 111 or equivalent and at least a "B" grade in ECON 111/111E or a "B-" in ECON 200-290, or equivalent. Limited to 50 students.  Fall semester: Professor Honig. Spring semester: Professor Honig.

2017-18: Offered in Fall 2017 and Spring 2018
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Spring 2008, Fall 2008, Spring 2009, Fall 2009, Spring 2010, Fall 2010, Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017

331 Advanced Macroeconomics

This course covers similar material to that covered in ECON 330 but is mathematically more rigorous and moves at a more rapid pace. A student may not receive credit for both ECON 330 and ECON 331.

Requisite: At least a "B" grade in ECON 111/111E or a "B-" grade in ECON 200-290, or equivalent, and MATH 121 or equivalent, or consent of the instructor. Spring semester. Professor Woglom.

2017-18: Offered in Spring 2018
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2011, Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Spring 2016, Spring 2017

360 Econometrics

A study of the analysis of quantitative data, with special emphasis on the application of statistical methods to economic problems.  A student may not receive credit for both ECON 360 and ECON 361.

Requisite: MATH 111, or equivalent and at least a "B" grade in ECON 111/111E or a "B-" in ECON 200-290, or equivalent. Limited to 50 students.  Fall semester: Professor Westhoff.  Spring semester: Professors Sims and Theoharides.

2017-18: Offered in Fall 2017 and Spring 2018
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Spring 2008, Fall 2008, Spring 2009, Fall 2009, Spring 2010, Fall 2010, Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017

361 Advanced Econometrics

This course studies the specification, estimation, and testing of econometric models based on the maximum likelihood and method of moments principles. It builds from mathematical statistics and utilizes matrix algebra, the rudiments of which will be introduced in the course. The course will also review applications of econometric models to various areas of micro and macroeconomics. A student may not receive credit for both ECON 360 and ECON 361. 

Requisite: At least a "B" grade in ECON 111/111E or a "B-" grade in ECON 200-290, or equivalent, and MATH 211 or equivalent, and STAT 111 (previously MATH 130) or STAT 135 or equivalent. Fall semester.  Professor Ishii.

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2008, Spring 2010, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Spring 2014, Fall 2015, Spring 2017

408 Behavioral Economics

Behavioral economics is an active research field, drawing together people from psychology, economics, political science, and management, among other fields. Economic theory is based on the idea that economic agents are rational and investigates the implications of such rational behavior.  Empirical research has revealed discrepancies between derived "optimal" strategies and the actual behavior of decision makers in domains as varied as labor supply, asset allocation, retail markets and credit card usage.  Based on these empirical findings, behavioral economics questions the assumption of perfect rationality and uses insights from psychology to improve theoretical and empirical predictions of standard economic theory. This course aims to introduce students to this rapidly emerging and important field.

Requisite: ECON 300/301 and MATH 121.  Limited to 35 students. Spring semester. Professor Raymond.

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2016, Spring 2017

410 Microeconomics of Development

The course aims to study the latest research on topics in development economics.  It will focus on both randomized experiments as well as some of the classic microeconomic empirical papers on topics such as health, education, corruption, labor, microfinance and social capital. Students will be required to read and comment on published or working papers every week.  Class participation and peer discussions will be incentivized.  The final project will involve each student answering a question in development economics employing empirical analysis on micro-level data sets already available.

Requisite: Economics 360/361 or permission of instructor. Limited to 15 students. Fall semester. Professor Singh.

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Fall 2015, Spring 2017

412 Applied Microeconomics Seminar

The field of applied microeconomics (“applied micro”) is a fundamentally outward-looking branch of economics. Applied microeconomists take economic theories and methodologies out into the world and apply them to interesting questions of individual behavior and societal outcomes. This upper-level seminar will start with an overview of the field and its methodologies, followed by foundational material in econometric identification and behavioral economics. We will then address substantive areas such as environmental economics, the fetal origins hypothesis, antisocial behavior, economics of crime, and the economics of gender, race, and inequality. Specific topics will vary from year to year. Most of the course will be devoted to close reading of research papers, including discussion of the relative merits of particular theoretical and empirical methodologies. Students will participate actively in class discussion, make oral presentations, evaluate empirical data, and write analytical papers.

Requisite: ECON 300/301 (Microeconomics) and ECON 360/361 (Econometrics). Limited to 15 students. Fall semester. Professor Reyes.

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Spring 2017

416 Evaluating Social Policy

This is an upper-level seminar in social policy which examines a number of social programs in the United States, including Medicaid, the Earned Income Tax Credit, and Temporary Aid to Needy Families. The seminar will introduce you to the operation of these programs and will teach you how to use economic and econometric tools to evaluate them.  Most of the course will be devoted to close reading and discussion of research papers, including discussion of the relative merits of various empirical and econometric techniques.  Students will be asked to participate actively in class discussion, to make oral presentations, to evaluate empirical data, and to write analytical papers.  Throughout the course, we will think broadly about the goals of social policy, always keeping the canonical tradeoff between efficiency and equity at the forefront.  We will also consider the practical challenges faced not only by policymakers in designing effective policies but also by scholars in evaluating the effectiveness of those policies.

Requisite: Microeconomics (ECON 300/301) and Econometrics (ECON 360/361). Limited to 15 students. Fall semester. Professor Reyes.

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2015

420 Game Theory and Applications

Game theory analyzes situations in which multiple individuals (or firms, political parties, countries) interact in a strategic manner. It has proved useful for explaining cooperation and conflict in a wide variety of strategic situations in economics, political science, and elsewhere. Such situations can include, for example, firms interacting in imperfectly competitive markets, auctions, arms races, political competition for votes, and chess. This course will provide an introduction to the tools and insights of game theory. Though mathematically rigorous, emphasis will be on applications rather than on formal theory.

Requisite: ECON 300 or 301 or consent of the instructor. Limited to 40 students. Fall semester. Professor Kingston.

2017-18: Offered in Fall 2017
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2015

423 The Economics of Finance

A study of the role of financial markets in the efficient allocation of resources. We look at how financial markets: (1) enable the transfer of resources across time and space; (2) facilitate the reduction and management of risk; and (3) provide information about the future, which is important to public policymakers as well as private firms and individuals. The financial theories studied include: (1) the theory of present discounted values; (2) the capital asset pricing model; (3) the efficient markets hypothesis; and (4) the Black-Scholes model for the pricing of contingent claims.

Requisite: MATH 211 AND ECON 300 or 301; or consent of instructor. Limited to 35 students. Fall semester. Professor Woglom.

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Fall 2012, Fall 2014, Fall 2015

425 Microeconomic Foundations of Consumption and Happiness

In the Declaration of Independence, the Founders called the “pursuit of happiness” an “inalienable right,” yet both psychologists and economists have noted that we do not well understand the determinants of the attainment of happiness or contentment. In this course, we will examine the literature on well-being in both micro- and macroeconomic contexts. We will review the neoclassical model of utility maximization and contrast it to other modes of understanding how and why people make the decisions they do, as they pursue their happiness. On the macroeconomic side, we will attempt to understand what factors (e.g. growth, unemployment, inflation) seem most important for policy-makers to focus on in order to sustain their citizens' well-being. The course will also include opportunities for students to examine their own consumption decisions and assumptions about the attainment of happiness. 

Requisite: ECON 300 or 301.  Not open to students who have taken ECON 275.  Limited to 40 students. Omitted 2015-16.  Professor Barbezat.

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2011, Spring 2013, Spring 2015, Fall 2016

435 Topics in Open-Economy Macroeconomics

A seminar in international macroeconomics, with an emphasis on emerging market economies. We will read and discuss empirical research papers. Topics covered will include financial globalization, banking and currency crises, exchange rate regimes, dollarization, and institutions and governance.

Requisite: ECON 330/331, or ECON 235/237 with permission of the instructor.  Limited to 35 students. Fall semester. Professor Honig.

2017-18: Offered in Fall 2017
Other years: Offered in Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Fall 2016

441 Information and Incentives in Macroeconomics

Information frictions are important for a wide variety of questions in macroeconomics and public finance. This course will develop tools from information economics and apply them, primarily to macroeconomic problems.  We will study situations in which adverse selection, moral hazard, limited commitment, and strategic behavior create impediments to trade and prevent private markets from achieving efficient results. Applications can include credit constraints, default and collateral, bank runs, labor market contracts, unemployment, time inconsistency, and social insurance.

The approach of the course is rigorous and analytical, focusing both on providing students with very general modeling skills and on applying these skills to specific economic questions. Requirements will include solving analytical problem sets, as well as reading and discussing theoretical research papers. The course is especially suitable for students interested in mathematical modeling in economics and students considering doing research in economics.

Requisite: ECON 300/301, ECON 330/331, and MATH 211 (or MATH 121 with consent of instructor). This course will routinely use multivariable calculus. Limited to 15 students. Omitted 2015-16. Professor Rabinovich.

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Spring 2017

470 Mechanism Design

Mechanism design uses game theory to design systems, institutions, and mechanisms to achieve desired outcomes. We will study the theory of mechanism design and how it is used to design auctions, tax schemes, and matching mechanisms. The course will approach these issues from a theoretical perspective and also examine real-world applications. Examples will include how Google sells advertising space, how medical students are matched to residencies, and how governments sell bonds. Students will read and discuss current research on these topics and also complete an independent research project related to the course material.Requisite: ECON 301 or 420, MATH 211.  Limited to 18 students.  Omitted 2015-16.  Professor Baisa.

2017-18: Offered in Spring 2018
Other years: Offered in Spring 2015

471 Economic History Seminar

We will begin by examining contemporary growth and development models and then apply them to the sweep of global economic history over the past 300 years. The course is a seminar, so students will be assessed on their close reading and their responses to articles and books assigned in the course. Students will engage directly with economic history issues and will produce an original piece of research by the end of the course.

Requisite: ECON 300 or 301 and 330 or 331. Limited to 15 students. Omitted 2015-16. Professor Barbezat.

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2008, Spring 2010, Fall 2012, Fall 2014

473 History of Economic Thought

Many challenges arise from the interaction between human desires and what is available.  Economics is the study of these challenges.  In this course, we will examine the many ways in which human beings have articulated this interaction and the responses that they have provided.  We will examine the intellectual history of how humans have conceived and managed scarcity on personal (microeconomic) and societal (macroeconomic) levels over time all over the globe. 

Requisite: ECON 300 or 301 and 330 or 331.  Limited to 15 students.  Spring semester.  Professor Barbezat.

2017-18: Offered in Spring 2018
Other years: Offered in Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2016

479 Institutions and Governance

All economic activity is embedded in a framework of institutions including both formal laws and contracts, and informal norms and conventions. Institutions constrain individual behavior and thereby affect resource allocation, income distribution, learning, and economic growth. This course introduces recent approaches to the study of institutions in economics and political science. Particular emphasis will be placed on recent applications to economic history and development, and to theories of institutional stability and change.

Requisite: ECON 420 or consent of the instructor. Limited to 15 students. Spring semester. Professor Kingston.

2017-18: Offered in Spring 2018
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Spring 2011, Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Spring 2016

490, 490H, 290, 390 Special Topics

Independent Reading Course. Full course.

Admission with consent of the instructor.  Fall and spring semesters.

2017-18: Offered in Fall 2017 and Spring 2018
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017

498 Senior Departmental Honors Seminar

A seminar preparing senior economics majors to undertake independent research for their honors projects. Five or six topics of current interest will be studied.

Requisite: An average grade of 11.00 or higher in ECON 300/301, 330/331, and 360/361. Fall semester. Professor Reyes.

2017-18: Offered in Fall 2017
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2016

499 Senior Departmental Honors Project

Independent work under the guidance of an advisor assigned by the Department.

Requisite: ECON 498. Spring semester.

2017-18: Offered in Spring 2018
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2011, Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Spring 2016, Spring 2017

Five College Programs & Certificates

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Economics

Professors Barbezat, Kingston, Reyes‡, Westhoff‡, Woglom, and B. Yarbrough*; Associate Professors Honig (Chair) and Ishii; Assistant Professors Baisa, Rabinovich*, Raymond, Sims, Singh, and Theoharides; Adjunct Professor R. Yarbrough.

*On leave 2015-16.

‡On leave spring semester 2015-16.

Major Program. Economics majors must take a total of nine courses in economics, which include ECON 111/111E, the core theory courses, and at least two upper-level electives numbered 400 to 490.  Honors students must take a total of ten courses.  All students must successfully complete a comprehensive exam.

In its simplest form, the economics major consists of a total of nine full-semester courses in economics.  These courses include:

• An Introduction to Economics (111/111E)
• Three core theory courses in Microeconomics (300 or 301), Macroeconomics (330 or 331), and Econometrics (360 or 361)
• At least five other courses in economics, usually electives numbered 200-290 or 400-490, at least two of which are numbered 400-490

The following sections clarify the details of these requirements.

Declaring an Economics Major.  It is recommended that students take several economics courses prior to adding the economics major. Students must attain a grade of B or better in ECON 111/111E or a grade of B– or better in an elective (numbered 200-290) before being allowed to add the economics major.  Major declarations should occur by the end of sophomore year, or by the end of junior year at the latest. 

Introduction to Economics. The economics major begins with ECON 111/111E, a survey of current economic issues and problems and an introduction to the basic tools essential for all areas of economics. ECON 111/111E is a requisite for all other courses in economics, and for many courses there is no other requisite. After completing ECON 111/111E a student may enroll in a variety of applied courses. Students may be excused from the requirement of taking ECON 111/111E by demonstrating an adequate understanding of basic economic principles. Four specific ways of being excused from the ECON 111/111E requirement are: (1) Attaining a grade of 4 or 5 on both the macroeconomic and microeconomic portion of the Advanced Placement Exam; (2) Passing a placement exam that is given by the department typically at the beginning of each semester; (3) Attaining a grade of 6 or 7 on the higher level International Baccalaureate in Economics; (4) Attaining a grade of A on the A levels.

Electives.  We offer many electives, covering a wide variety of topics in economics.  The elective courses numbered in the 200s require only Economics 111/111E as a prerequisite, and are most appropriate for students relatively early in their study of economics.  The elective courses numbered in the 400s require one or more of the core theory courses as prerequisites.  They are appropriate for students a bit further along in their study of economics, primarily (though not exclusively) juniors and seniors.

The Core.  All majors must complete the sequence of core theory courses in microeconomics, macroeconomics, and econometrics: ECON 300 or 301, 330 or 331, and 360 or 361. We would like to provide some guidance regarding the core sequence.   First, students must attain a grade of B or better in ECON 111/111E or a grade of B- or better in an elective (numbered 200-290) before registering for a core theory course.  Entering students who pass out of ECON 111/111E may register for a core course with consent of the instructor.   Second, these courses can be taken in any order, but it is recommended that a student take ECON 300/301 or 330/331 before enrolling in ECON 360/361. Third, it is not generally advisable to take more than one of the core theory courses in a given semester. Fourth, students should make every effort to complete the sequence of core theory courses by the end of the Junior year, or at the very latest by the end of the 7th semester (usually the fall semester of senior year).  Failure to do so jeopardizes a student’s chances of graduating with an economics major.  Only in truly exceptional circumstances will exceptions be made to this rule.  Fifth, a student who receives a grade of F in a core theory course must retake that core theory course.  A student who receives a grade of D in a core theory course may not count that course towards the major and must take ECON 390 (a special topics course focusing on that area of core theory) and receive a grade of C- or better in that special topics course.  Sixth, the core theory courses must be completed at Amherst.  In exceptional circumstances, a student may be permitted to substitute a non-Amherst course for one of the core courses. Such exceptions are considered only if a written request is submitted to the Department Chair prior to initiating the other work. 

Departmental Honors Program. To be eligible to enter the honors program, a senior (or second-semester junior in an E Class) must have already completed Microeconomic Theory (ECON 300 or 301), Macroeconomic Theory (ECON 330 or 331) and Econometrics (ECON 360 or 361) with an average grade of 11.00 or higher.  (For reference, conversion equivalents are A = 13, A- = 12, B+ = 11, B = 10, etc.)  No exceptions to this rule will be allowed.  Normally, all these core courses must be taken at Amherst (see above re exceptional circumstances).  Therefore, a student considering writing a thesis and intending to study abroad should plan their course of study carefully, in consultation with economics faculty.  Students who intend to enter the honors program are encouraged to take the advanced core theory courses, to gain some experience doing economic research, and to complete at least one upper-level elective prior to the senior year.  Honors students take ECON 498, the Senior Departmental Honors Seminar, in the fall semester, and complete their honors essay under the guidance of an individual advisor in the spring semester, ECON 499.  ECON 498 and 499 can both be counted towards the major total course requirement (ten courses for honors students).  Successful completion of ECON 498 and 499 will serve to satisfy the comprehensive requirement in economics for honors students. 

Comprehensive Exam. A written comprehensive exam is given during the second week of the second semester to economics majors who have completed the core theory courses.

Graduate Study. Students who intend to pursue graduate study in economics are strongly advised to take additional courses in mathematics. Such students should plan on taking Intermediate Calculus and Linear Algebra, at a minimum, and ideally Multivariable Calculus and Introduction to Analysis in addition.  (The course numbers are: MATH 121, 272, 211, and 355.)

Courses from Other Institutions.  Non-Amherst College courses (including courses taken abroad) may be used as elective courses (excluding the upper-level electives). Such non-Amherst courses must be taught in an economics department and must require at least ECON 111 or equivalent as a prerequisite. The student must receive one full Amherst College course credit for the work. Therefore, if a student were to take five courses abroad, which included two economics courses and for which Amherst College awarded four course credits, the work done abroad would be counted as the equivalent of one elective course in economics. If only one of the five courses were an economics course, the student would not receive any elective credits. Students who transfer to Amherst and wish to receive credit towards the major requirements for previous work must obtain written permission from the Department Chair.

Pass/Fail Courses. ECON 111/111E may be taken on a Pass/Fail basis only by seniors or second semester juniors, and only with the consent of the instructor. Other departmental courses may be taken on a Pass/Fail basis at the discretion of the instructor. Majors may not use the Pass/Fail option in a course used to satisfy a major requirement.

The Economics Student Handbook.  All students considering majoring in economics should read the Economics Student Handbook, which contains important additional information about the economics major.  The Handbook is available on the department webpage and in the department office.

111 An Introduction to Economics

A study of the central problem of scarcity and of the ways in which the U.S. economic system allocates scarce resources among competing ends and apportions the goods produced among people. Two 80-minute and one 50-minute lecture/discussion per week.

Requisite for all other courses in Economics. Limited to 25 Amherst College students fall semester: Professors Ishii, Kingston, Raymond, Theoharides and Westhoff. Limited to 30 Amherst College students spring semester: Professors Baisa, Ishii, Raymond, Singh and Theoharides.

2017-18: Offered in Fall 2017 and Spring 2018
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Spring 2008, Fall 2008, Spring 2009, Fall 2009, Spring 2010, Fall 2010, Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017

111E An Introduction to Economics with Environmental Applications

(Offered as ECON 111E and ENST 230.) A study of the central problem of scarcity and of the ways in which micro and macro economic systems allocate scarce resources among competing ends and apportion goods produced among people.  Covers the same material as ECON 111 but with special attention to the relationship between economic activity and environmental problems and to the application of micro and macroeconomic theory tools to analyze environmental issues. A student may not receive credit for both ECON 111 and ECON 111E. 

Two 80-minute and one 50-minute lecture/discussion per week.  Each section is limited to 25 Amherst College students.  Fall semester. Professor Sims.

2017-18: Offered in Fall 2017 and Spring 2018
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Spring 2008, Fall 2008, Spring 2009, Fall 2009, Spring 2010, Fall 2010, Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017

210 Environmental and Natural Resource Economics

Students in this course will explore society’s use of the natural environment as a component of production and consumption. The allocation of exhaustible and renewable resources and the protection of environmental quality from an economic standpoint will be examined. Public policy avenues for controlling natural resource management and the environment will also be explored. Case studies include air pollution and acid rain, depletion of the ozone layer and the greenhouse effect, the solid waste crisis, and deforestation, among others.

Requisite: ECON 111/111E. Limited to 30 students. Spring semester. Professor Sims.

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2011, Fall 2012, Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Spring 2016

214 Health Economics and Policy

Health care poses many pressing questions: Why do we spend so much on health care?  Does this spending actually produce better health?  How do health care institutions function?  What is the appropriate role of government? How are we to judge the efficiency and equity of health care policy?  By applying economic analysis to health, health care, and health care markets, health economics provides insight into these questions.  In the first section of this course, we will assess the role of health care in the economy and apply economic models to the production of health and health care.  In the second section of the course, we will study the structure of health care markets and the roles of key institutions.  In the third section of the course, we will investigate the role of government and use our acquired knowledge to understand and evaluate health care policy and reform.  Throughout this analysis, we will pay careful attention to the nature of health care markets, the anatomy of market failures, and the implications for public policy.  Empirical results, current issues, and public policies will be discussed throughout the course.  In addition to technical problems and economic analyses, students will be asked to write analytical papers and participate actively in the discussion of current economic research and public policy.

Requisite: ECON 111/111E. Recommended: any one of Microeconomics (ECON 300/301), Econometrics (ECON 360/361), or Statistics (MATH 130). Limited to 35 students. Omitted 2015-16. Professor Reyes.

2017-18: Offered in Fall 2017
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2015

223 Economics of Migration

International migration is a key labor market alternative for many individuals, especially for those from developing countries. This course focuses on the economic underpinnings of the migration decision that culminates in individuals leaving their home country for work abroad. We will begin the course by examining the question of why people migrate. In the second section, we will focus on the effects of migration on migrant-sending developing countries. In the third section, we will examine the impacts of migration on migrant-receiving countries. Through lectures, discussion, debates, and written policy briefs, we will use economics as a toolbox for analyzing the complex issues of migration policy.

Requisite: ECON 111/111E. Limited to 35 students. Fall semester. Professor Theoharides.

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2014, Fall 2015

225 Industrial Organization

This course examines the determinants of and linkages between market structure, firm conduct, and industrial performance. Some of the questions that will be addressed include: Why do some markets have many sellers while others have only few? How and why do different market structures give rise to different prices and outputs? In what ways can firms behave strategically so as to prevent entry or induce exit of rival firms? Under what circumstances can collusion be successful? Why do firms price discriminate? Why do firms advertise? Does a competitive firm or a monopoly have a greater incentive to innovate? In answering these and other questions, the consequent implications for efficiency and public policy will also be explored.

Requisite: ECON 111/111E. Limited to 50 students.  Spring semester.  Professor Ishii.

2017-18: Offered in Spring 2018
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Spring 2011, Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2016

227 International Trade

This course uses microeconomic analysis to examine economic relationships among countries. Issues addressed include why nations trade, the distributional effects of trade, economic growth, factor mobility, and protectionism. Also included are discussions of the special trade-related problems of developing countries and of the history of the international trading system.

Requisite: ECON 111/111E. Limited to 50 students. Omitted 2015-16.  Professor B. Yarbrough.

2017-18: Offered in Fall 2017 and Spring 2018
Other years: Offered in Fall 2008, Spring 2009, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2015

235 Open-Economy Macroeconomics

This course uses macroeconomic analysis to examine economic relationships among countries. Issues addressed include foreign exchange markets, the balance of payments, and the implications of openness for the efficacy of various macroeconomic policies. Also included are discussions of the special macroeconomic problems of developing countries and of the history of the international monetary system. Not open to students who have taken ECON 435.

Requisite: ECON 111/111E. Limited to 50 students. Omitted 2015-16. Professor B. Yarbrough.

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014

237 Financial Globalization, Growth and Crises

This course surveys the recent wave of financial globalization and assesses both its merits and potential risks. In particular, we will examine the most important potential benefit of financial globalization, an increased rate of economic growth that can be a powerful tool in alleviating poverty. We will analyze the theoretical arguments for a growth-enhancing effect of globalization and discuss the empirical evidence. We will then turn to the most important potential drawback: the risk of a devastating financial crisis, particularly in emerging market economies that have only recently opened to international capital movements. Throughout the course we will emphasize the conditions and policies under which financial globalization is likely to be successful. The course will conclude with an analysis of the effect of financial globalization, as well as increased trade openness, on inflation and the conduct of monetary policy.

Requisite: ECON 111/111E.  Limited to 50 students. Consent of the instructor required for students who have taken ECON 435.  Spring semester.  Professor Honig.

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2010, Fall 2010, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Spring 2016

245 Development Economics

An introduction to the historical experience and current economic problems of developing countries, and survey of theories of economic growth and development.  Topics will include economic growth, health, education, urbanization, corruption, technology, aid, gender and institutions.  The course will throw light on market failures in developing countries and show how we can use the tools of economics to understand these problems and to evaluate policy options.

Requisite: ECON 111/111E. Limited to 50 students. Fall semester.  Professor Singh.

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2014, Fall 2015

265 Money and Economic Activity

This course studies the monetary systems that facilitate exchange. Such systems overcame the limitations of barter with commodity monies such as gold, and gradually evolved into financial intermediaries that issue paper notes and bank deposits as money. Intermediaries in markets for insurance, debt, and equity are studied too. Also, the effects of financial markets on aggregate economic activity and the level and term structure of interest rates are studied. Not open to students who have taken ECON 423.

Requisite: ECON 111/111E. Limited to 50 students. Fall semester. Professor Woglom.

2017-18: Offered in Fall 2017
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016

271 Economic History of the United States, 1600-1860

The economic development of the United States provides an excellent starting point for an understanding of both this nation’s history and its current economic situation. We begin with the colonial period and the creation of the nation and end with the Civil War and the breakdown of the Union. Throughout we provide an economic reading of the events and try to explain the conflicts and resolutions in economic terms.

Requisite: ECON 111/111E. Limited to 35 students. Fall semester. Professor Barbezat.

2017-18: Offered in Fall 2017
Other years: Offered in Fall 2010, Fall 2013, Fall 2015

272 Economic History of the United States, 1865-1965

The economic development of the United States provides an excellent starting point for an understanding of both this nation’s history and its current economic situation. We begin with the reconstruction period after the Civil War and end with the Civil Rights Era and the War on Poverty. Throughout we provide an economic reading of the events and try to explain the conflicts and resolutions in economic terms.

Requisite: ECON 111/111E. Limited to 35 students. Spring semester. Professor Barbezat.

2017-18: Offered in Spring 2018
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Fall 2014, Spring 2016, Spring 2017

275 Consumption and the Pursuit of Happiness

In the Declaration of Independence, the Founders called the “pursuit of happiness” an “inalienable right,” yet both psychologists and economists have noted that we do not well understand the determinants of the attainment of happiness or contentment. In this course, we will examine the literature on well-being in both micro- and macroeconomic contexts. We will review the neoclassical model of utility maximization and contrast it to other modes of understanding how and why people make the decisions they do, as they pursue their happiness. On the macroeconomic side, we will attempt to understand what factors (e.g. growth, unemployment, inflation) seem most important for policy-makers to focus on in order to sustain their citizens' well-being. The course will also include opportunities for students to examine their own consumption decisions and assumptions about the attainment of happiness. 

Requisite: ECON 111/111E. Not open to students who have taken ECON 425. Limited to 50 students. Omitted 2015-16.  Professor Barbezat.

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2011, Spring 2013, Spring 2015, Fall 2016

300 Microeconomics

This course develops the tools of modern microeconomic theory and notes their applications to matters of utility and demand; production functions and cost; pricing of output under perfect competition, monopoly, oligopoly, etc.; pricing of productive services; intertemporal decision-making; the economics of uncertainty; efficiency, equity, general equilibrium; externalities and public goods. A student may not receive credit for both ECON 300 and ECON 301.

Requisite: MATH 111, or equivalent and at least a "B" grade in ECON 111/111E or a "B-" in ECON 200-290, or equivalent. Limited to 50 students. Fall semester: Professor Baisa. Spring semester: Professor Singh.

2017-18: Offered in Fall 2017 and Spring 2018
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Spring 2008, Fall 2008, Spring 2009, Fall 2009, Spring 2010, Fall 2010, Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017

301 Advanced Microeconomics

This course covers similar material to that covered in ECON 300 but is mathematically more rigorous and moves at a more rapid pace. A student may not receive credit for both ECON 300 and ECON 301.

Requisite: At least a "B" grade in ECON 111/111E or a "B-" grade in ECON 200-290, or equivalent, and MATH 211 or equivalent, or consent of the instructor. Fall semester. Professor Baisa.

2017-18: Offered in Fall 2017
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2016

330 Macroeconomics

This course develops macroeconomic models of the determinants of economic activity, inflation, unemployment, and economic growth. The models are used to analyze recent monetary and fiscal policy issues in the United States, and also to analyze the controversies separating schools of macroeconomic thought such as the New Keynesians, Monetarists and New Classicals. A student may not receive credit for both ECON 330 and ECON 331.

Requisite: Math 111 or equivalent and at least a "B" grade in ECON 111/111E or a "B-" in ECON 200-290, or equivalent. Limited to 50 students.  Fall semester: Professor Honig. Spring semester: Professor Honig.

2017-18: Offered in Fall 2017 and Spring 2018
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Spring 2008, Fall 2008, Spring 2009, Fall 2009, Spring 2010, Fall 2010, Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017

331 Advanced Macroeconomics

This course covers similar material to that covered in ECON 330 but is mathematically more rigorous and moves at a more rapid pace. A student may not receive credit for both ECON 330 and ECON 331.

Requisite: At least a "B" grade in ECON 111/111E or a "B-" grade in ECON 200-290, or equivalent, and MATH 121 or equivalent, or consent of the instructor. Spring semester. Professor Woglom.

2017-18: Offered in Spring 2018
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2011, Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Spring 2016, Spring 2017

360 Econometrics

A study of the analysis of quantitative data, with special emphasis on the application of statistical methods to economic problems.  A student may not receive credit for both ECON 360 and ECON 361.

Requisite: MATH 111, or equivalent and at least a "B" grade in ECON 111/111E or a "B-" in ECON 200-290, or equivalent. Limited to 50 students.  Fall semester: Professor Westhoff.  Spring semester: Professors Sims and Theoharides.

2017-18: Offered in Fall 2017 and Spring 2018
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Spring 2008, Fall 2008, Spring 2009, Fall 2009, Spring 2010, Fall 2010, Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017

361 Advanced Econometrics

This course studies the specification, estimation, and testing of econometric models based on the maximum likelihood and method of moments principles. It builds from mathematical statistics and utilizes matrix algebra, the rudiments of which will be introduced in the course. The course will also review applications of econometric models to various areas of micro and macroeconomics. A student may not receive credit for both ECON 360 and ECON 361. 

Requisite: At least a "B" grade in ECON 111/111E or a "B-" grade in ECON 200-290, or equivalent, and MATH 211 or equivalent, and STAT 111 (previously MATH 130) or STAT 135 or equivalent. Fall semester.  Professor Ishii.

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2008, Spring 2010, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Spring 2014, Fall 2015, Spring 2017

408 Behavioral Economics

Behavioral economics is an active research field, drawing together people from psychology, economics, political science, and management, among other fields. Economic theory is based on the idea that economic agents are rational and investigates the implications of such rational behavior.  Empirical research has revealed discrepancies between derived "optimal" strategies and the actual behavior of decision makers in domains as varied as labor supply, asset allocation, retail markets and credit card usage.  Based on these empirical findings, behavioral economics questions the assumption of perfect rationality and uses insights from psychology to improve theoretical and empirical predictions of standard economic theory. This course aims to introduce students to this rapidly emerging and important field.

Requisite: ECON 300/301 and MATH 121.  Limited to 35 students. Spring semester. Professor Raymond.

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2016, Spring 2017

410 Microeconomics of Development

The course aims to study the latest research on topics in development economics.  It will focus on both randomized experiments as well as some of the classic microeconomic empirical papers on topics such as health, education, corruption, labor, microfinance and social capital. Students will be required to read and comment on published or working papers every week.  Class participation and peer discussions will be incentivized.  The final project will involve each student answering a question in development economics employing empirical analysis on micro-level data sets already available.

Requisite: Economics 360/361 or permission of instructor. Limited to 15 students. Fall semester. Professor Singh.

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Fall 2015, Spring 2017

412 Applied Microeconomics Seminar

The field of applied microeconomics (“applied micro”) is a fundamentally outward-looking branch of economics. Applied microeconomists take economic theories and methodologies out into the world and apply them to interesting questions of individual behavior and societal outcomes. This upper-level seminar will start with an overview of the field and its methodologies, followed by foundational material in econometric identification and behavioral economics. We will then address substantive areas such as environmental economics, the fetal origins hypothesis, antisocial behavior, economics of crime, and the economics of gender, race, and inequality. Specific topics will vary from year to year. Most of the course will be devoted to close reading of research papers, including discussion of the relative merits of particular theoretical and empirical methodologies. Students will participate actively in class discussion, make oral presentations, evaluate empirical data, and write analytical papers.

Requisite: ECON 300/301 (Microeconomics) and ECON 360/361 (Econometrics). Limited to 15 students. Fall semester. Professor Reyes.

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Spring 2017

416 Evaluating Social Policy

This is an upper-level seminar in social policy which examines a number of social programs in the United States, including Medicaid, the Earned Income Tax Credit, and Temporary Aid to Needy Families. The seminar will introduce you to the operation of these programs and will teach you how to use economic and econometric tools to evaluate them.  Most of the course will be devoted to close reading and discussion of research papers, including discussion of the relative merits of various empirical and econometric techniques.  Students will be asked to participate actively in class discussion, to make oral presentations, to evaluate empirical data, and to write analytical papers.  Throughout the course, we will think broadly about the goals of social policy, always keeping the canonical tradeoff between efficiency and equity at the forefront.  We will also consider the practical challenges faced not only by policymakers in designing effective policies but also by scholars in evaluating the effectiveness of those policies.

Requisite: Microeconomics (ECON 300/301) and Econometrics (ECON 360/361). Limited to 15 students. Fall semester. Professor Reyes.

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2015

420 Game Theory and Applications

Game theory analyzes situations in which multiple individuals (or firms, political parties, countries) interact in a strategic manner. It has proved useful for explaining cooperation and conflict in a wide variety of strategic situations in economics, political science, and elsewhere. Such situations can include, for example, firms interacting in imperfectly competitive markets, auctions, arms races, political competition for votes, and chess. This course will provide an introduction to the tools and insights of game theory. Though mathematically rigorous, emphasis will be on applications rather than on formal theory.

Requisite: ECON 300 or 301 or consent of the instructor. Limited to 40 students. Fall semester. Professor Kingston.

2017-18: Offered in Fall 2017
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2015

423 The Economics of Finance

A study of the role of financial markets in the efficient allocation of resources. We look at how financial markets: (1) enable the transfer of resources across time and space; (2) facilitate the reduction and management of risk; and (3) provide information about the future, which is important to public policymakers as well as private firms and individuals. The financial theories studied include: (1) the theory of present discounted values; (2) the capital asset pricing model; (3) the efficient markets hypothesis; and (4) the Black-Scholes model for the pricing of contingent claims.

Requisite: MATH 211 AND ECON 300 or 301; or consent of instructor. Limited to 35 students. Fall semester. Professor Woglom.

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Fall 2012, Fall 2014, Fall 2015

425 Microeconomic Foundations of Consumption and Happiness

In the Declaration of Independence, the Founders called the “pursuit of happiness” an “inalienable right,” yet both psychologists and economists have noted that we do not well understand the determinants of the attainment of happiness or contentment. In this course, we will examine the literature on well-being in both micro- and macroeconomic contexts. We will review the neoclassical model of utility maximization and contrast it to other modes of understanding how and why people make the decisions they do, as they pursue their happiness. On the macroeconomic side, we will attempt to understand what factors (e.g. growth, unemployment, inflation) seem most important for policy-makers to focus on in order to sustain their citizens' well-being. The course will also include opportunities for students to examine their own consumption decisions and assumptions about the attainment of happiness. 

Requisite: ECON 300 or 301.  Not open to students who have taken ECON 275.  Limited to 40 students. Omitted 2015-16.  Professor Barbezat.

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2011, Spring 2013, Spring 2015, Fall 2016

435 Topics in Open-Economy Macroeconomics

A seminar in international macroeconomics, with an emphasis on emerging market economies. We will read and discuss empirical research papers. Topics covered will include financial globalization, banking and currency crises, exchange rate regimes, dollarization, and institutions and governance.

Requisite: ECON 330/331, or ECON 235/237 with permission of the instructor.  Limited to 35 students. Fall semester. Professor Honig.

2017-18: Offered in Fall 2017
Other years: Offered in Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Fall 2016

441 Information and Incentives in Macroeconomics

Information frictions are important for a wide variety of questions in macroeconomics and public finance. This course will develop tools from information economics and apply them, primarily to macroeconomic problems.  We will study situations in which adverse selection, moral hazard, limited commitment, and strategic behavior create impediments to trade and prevent private markets from achieving efficient results. Applications can include credit constraints, default and collateral, bank runs, labor market contracts, unemployment, time inconsistency, and social insurance.

The approach of the course is rigorous and analytical, focusing both on providing students with very general modeling skills and on applying these skills to specific economic questions. Requirements will include solving analytical problem sets, as well as reading and discussing theoretical research papers. The course is especially suitable for students interested in mathematical modeling in economics and students considering doing research in economics.

Requisite: ECON 300/301, ECON 330/331, and MATH 211 (or MATH 121 with consent of instructor). This course will routinely use multivariable calculus. Limited to 15 students. Omitted 2015-16. Professor Rabinovich.

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Spring 2017

470 Mechanism Design

Mechanism design uses game theory to design systems, institutions, and mechanisms to achieve desired outcomes. We will study the theory of mechanism design and how it is used to design auctions, tax schemes, and matching mechanisms. The course will approach these issues from a theoretical perspective and also examine real-world applications. Examples will include how Google sells advertising space, how medical students are matched to residencies, and how governments sell bonds. Students will read and discuss current research on these topics and also complete an independent research project related to the course material.Requisite: ECON 301 or 420, MATH 211.  Limited to 18 students.  Omitted 2015-16.  Professor Baisa.

2017-18: Offered in Spring 2018
Other years: Offered in Spring 2015

471 Economic History Seminar

We will begin by examining contemporary growth and development models and then apply them to the sweep of global economic history over the past 300 years. The course is a seminar, so students will be assessed on their close reading and their responses to articles and books assigned in the course. Students will engage directly with economic history issues and will produce an original piece of research by the end of the course.

Requisite: ECON 300 or 301 and 330 or 331. Limited to 15 students. Omitted 2015-16. Professor Barbezat.

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2008, Spring 2010, Fall 2012, Fall 2014

473 History of Economic Thought

Many challenges arise from the interaction between human desires and what is available.  Economics is the study of these challenges.  In this course, we will examine the many ways in which human beings have articulated this interaction and the responses that they have provided.  We will examine the intellectual history of how humans have conceived and managed scarcity on personal (microeconomic) and societal (macroeconomic) levels over time all over the globe. 

Requisite: ECON 300 or 301 and 330 or 331.  Limited to 15 students.  Spring semester.  Professor Barbezat.

2017-18: Offered in Spring 2018
Other years: Offered in Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2016

479 Institutions and Governance

All economic activity is embedded in a framework of institutions including both formal laws and contracts, and informal norms and conventions. Institutions constrain individual behavior and thereby affect resource allocation, income distribution, learning, and economic growth. This course introduces recent approaches to the study of institutions in economics and political science. Particular emphasis will be placed on recent applications to economic history and development, and to theories of institutional stability and change.

Requisite: ECON 420 or consent of the instructor. Limited to 15 students. Spring semester. Professor Kingston.

2017-18: Offered in Spring 2018
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Spring 2011, Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Spring 2016

490, 490H, 290, 390 Special Topics

Independent Reading Course. Full course.

Admission with consent of the instructor.  Fall and spring semesters.

2017-18: Offered in Fall 2017 and Spring 2018
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017

498 Senior Departmental Honors Seminar

A seminar preparing senior economics majors to undertake independent research for their honors projects. Five or six topics of current interest will be studied.

Requisite: An average grade of 11.00 or higher in ECON 300/301, 330/331, and 360/361. Fall semester. Professor Reyes.

2017-18: Offered in Fall 2017
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2016

499 Senior Departmental Honors Project

Independent work under the guidance of an advisor assigned by the Department.

Requisite: ECON 498. Spring semester.

2017-18: Offered in Spring 2018
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2011, Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Spring 2016, Spring 2017

Honors & Fellowships

View Index

Economics

Professors Barbezat, Kingston, Reyes‡, Westhoff‡, Woglom, and B. Yarbrough*; Associate Professors Honig (Chair) and Ishii; Assistant Professors Baisa, Rabinovich*, Raymond, Sims, Singh, and Theoharides; Adjunct Professor R. Yarbrough.

*On leave 2015-16.

‡On leave spring semester 2015-16.

Major Program. Economics majors must take a total of nine courses in economics, which include ECON 111/111E, the core theory courses, and at least two upper-level electives numbered 400 to 490.  Honors students must take a total of ten courses.  All students must successfully complete a comprehensive exam.

In its simplest form, the economics major consists of a total of nine full-semester courses in economics.  These courses include:

• An Introduction to Economics (111/111E)
• Three core theory courses in Microeconomics (300 or 301), Macroeconomics (330 or 331), and Econometrics (360 or 361)
• At least five other courses in economics, usually electives numbered 200-290 or 400-490, at least two of which are numbered 400-490

The following sections clarify the details of these requirements.

Declaring an Economics Major.  It is recommended that students take several economics courses prior to adding the economics major. Students must attain a grade of B or better in ECON 111/111E or a grade of B– or better in an elective (numbered 200-290) before being allowed to add the economics major.  Major declarations should occur by the end of sophomore year, or by the end of junior year at the latest. 

Introduction to Economics. The economics major begins with ECON 111/111E, a survey of current economic issues and problems and an introduction to the basic tools essential for all areas of economics. ECON 111/111E is a requisite for all other courses in economics, and for many courses there is no other requisite. After completing ECON 111/111E a student may enroll in a variety of applied courses. Students may be excused from the requirement of taking ECON 111/111E by demonstrating an adequate understanding of basic economic principles. Four specific ways of being excused from the ECON 111/111E requirement are: (1) Attaining a grade of 4 or 5 on both the macroeconomic and microeconomic portion of the Advanced Placement Exam; (2) Passing a placement exam that is given by the department typically at the beginning of each semester; (3) Attaining a grade of 6 or 7 on the higher level International Baccalaureate in Economics; (4) Attaining a grade of A on the A levels.

Electives.  We offer many electives, covering a wide variety of topics in economics.  The elective courses numbered in the 200s require only Economics 111/111E as a prerequisite, and are most appropriate for students relatively early in their study of economics.  The elective courses numbered in the 400s require one or more of the core theory courses as prerequisites.  They are appropriate for students a bit further along in their study of economics, primarily (though not exclusively) juniors and seniors.

The Core.  All majors must complete the sequence of core theory courses in microeconomics, macroeconomics, and econometrics: ECON 300 or 301, 330 or 331, and 360 or 361. We would like to provide some guidance regarding the core sequence.   First, students must attain a grade of B or better in ECON 111/111E or a grade of B- or better in an elective (numbered 200-290) before registering for a core theory course.  Entering students who pass out of ECON 111/111E may register for a core course with consent of the instructor.   Second, these courses can be taken in any order, but it is recommended that a student take ECON 300/301 or 330/331 before enrolling in ECON 360/361. Third, it is not generally advisable to take more than one of the core theory courses in a given semester. Fourth, students should make every effort to complete the sequence of core theory courses by the end of the Junior year, or at the very latest by the end of the 7th semester (usually the fall semester of senior year).  Failure to do so jeopardizes a student’s chances of graduating with an economics major.  Only in truly exceptional circumstances will exceptions be made to this rule.  Fifth, a student who receives a grade of F in a core theory course must retake that core theory course.  A student who receives a grade of D in a core theory course may not count that course towards the major and must take ECON 390 (a special topics course focusing on that area of core theory) and receive a grade of C- or better in that special topics course.  Sixth, the core theory courses must be completed at Amherst.  In exceptional circumstances, a student may be permitted to substitute a non-Amherst course for one of the core courses. Such exceptions are considered only if a written request is submitted to the Department Chair prior to initiating the other work. 

Departmental Honors Program. To be eligible to enter the honors program, a senior (or second-semester junior in an E Class) must have already completed Microeconomic Theory (ECON 300 or 301), Macroeconomic Theory (ECON 330 or 331) and Econometrics (ECON 360 or 361) with an average grade of 11.00 or higher.  (For reference, conversion equivalents are A = 13, A- = 12, B+ = 11, B = 10, etc.)  No exceptions to this rule will be allowed.  Normally, all these core courses must be taken at Amherst (see above re exceptional circumstances).  Therefore, a student considering writing a thesis and intending to study abroad should plan their course of study carefully, in consultation with economics faculty.  Students who intend to enter the honors program are encouraged to take the advanced core theory courses, to gain some experience doing economic research, and to complete at least one upper-level elective prior to the senior year.  Honors students take ECON 498, the Senior Departmental Honors Seminar, in the fall semester, and complete their honors essay under the guidance of an individual advisor in the spring semester, ECON 499.  ECON 498 and 499 can both be counted towards the major total course requirement (ten courses for honors students).  Successful completion of ECON 498 and 499 will serve to satisfy the comprehensive requirement in economics for honors students. 

Comprehensive Exam. A written comprehensive exam is given during the second week of the second semester to economics majors who have completed the core theory courses.

Graduate Study. Students who intend to pursue graduate study in economics are strongly advised to take additional courses in mathematics. Such students should plan on taking Intermediate Calculus and Linear Algebra, at a minimum, and ideally Multivariable Calculus and Introduction to Analysis in addition.  (The course numbers are: MATH 121, 272, 211, and 355.)

Courses from Other Institutions.  Non-Amherst College courses (including courses taken abroad) may be used as elective courses (excluding the upper-level electives). Such non-Amherst courses must be taught in an economics department and must require at least ECON 111 or equivalent as a prerequisite. The student must receive one full Amherst College course credit for the work. Therefore, if a student were to take five courses abroad, which included two economics courses and for which Amherst College awarded four course credits, the work done abroad would be counted as the equivalent of one elective course in economics. If only one of the five courses were an economics course, the student would not receive any elective credits. Students who transfer to Amherst and wish to receive credit towards the major requirements for previous work must obtain written permission from the Department Chair.

Pass/Fail Courses. ECON 111/111E may be taken on a Pass/Fail basis only by seniors or second semester juniors, and only with the consent of the instructor. Other departmental courses may be taken on a Pass/Fail basis at the discretion of the instructor. Majors may not use the Pass/Fail option in a course used to satisfy a major requirement.

The Economics Student Handbook.  All students considering majoring in economics should read the Economics Student Handbook, which contains important additional information about the economics major.  The Handbook is available on the department webpage and in the department office.

111 An Introduction to Economics

A study of the central problem of scarcity and of the ways in which the U.S. economic system allocates scarce resources among competing ends and apportions the goods produced among people. Two 80-minute and one 50-minute lecture/discussion per week.

Requisite for all other courses in Economics. Limited to 25 Amherst College students fall semester: Professors Ishii, Kingston, Raymond, Theoharides and Westhoff. Limited to 30 Amherst College students spring semester: Professors Baisa, Ishii, Raymond, Singh and Theoharides.

2017-18: Offered in Fall 2017 and Spring 2018
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Spring 2008, Fall 2008, Spring 2009, Fall 2009, Spring 2010, Fall 2010, Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017

111E An Introduction to Economics with Environmental Applications

(Offered as ECON 111E and ENST 230.) A study of the central problem of scarcity and of the ways in which micro and macro economic systems allocate scarce resources among competing ends and apportion goods produced among people.  Covers the same material as ECON 111 but with special attention to the relationship between economic activity and environmental problems and to the application of micro and macroeconomic theory tools to analyze environmental issues. A student may not receive credit for both ECON 111 and ECON 111E. 

Two 80-minute and one 50-minute lecture/discussion per week.  Each section is limited to 25 Amherst College students.  Fall semester. Professor Sims.

2017-18: Offered in Fall 2017 and Spring 2018
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Spring 2008, Fall 2008, Spring 2009, Fall 2009, Spring 2010, Fall 2010, Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017

210 Environmental and Natural Resource Economics

Students in this course will explore society’s use of the natural environment as a component of production and consumption. The allocation of exhaustible and renewable resources and the protection of environmental quality from an economic standpoint will be examined. Public policy avenues for controlling natural resource management and the environment will also be explored. Case studies include air pollution and acid rain, depletion of the ozone layer and the greenhouse effect, the solid waste crisis, and deforestation, among others.

Requisite: ECON 111/111E. Limited to 30 students. Spring semester. Professor Sims.

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2011, Fall 2012, Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Spring 2016

214 Health Economics and Policy

Health care poses many pressing questions: Why do we spend so much on health care?  Does this spending actually produce better health?  How do health care institutions function?  What is the appropriate role of government? How are we to judge the efficiency and equity of health care policy?  By applying economic analysis to health, health care, and health care markets, health economics provides insight into these questions.  In the first section of this course, we will assess the role of health care in the economy and apply economic models to the production of health and health care.  In the second section of the course, we will study the structure of health care markets and the roles of key institutions.  In the third section of the course, we will investigate the role of government and use our acquired knowledge to understand and evaluate health care policy and reform.  Throughout this analysis, we will pay careful attention to the nature of health care markets, the anatomy of market failures, and the implications for public policy.  Empirical results, current issues, and public policies will be discussed throughout the course.  In addition to technical problems and economic analyses, students will be asked to write analytical papers and participate actively in the discussion of current economic research and public policy.

Requisite: ECON 111/111E. Recommended: any one of Microeconomics (ECON 300/301), Econometrics (ECON 360/361), or Statistics (MATH 130). Limited to 35 students. Omitted 2015-16. Professor Reyes.

2017-18: Offered in Fall 2017
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2015

223 Economics of Migration

International migration is a key labor market alternative for many individuals, especially for those from developing countries. This course focuses on the economic underpinnings of the migration decision that culminates in individuals leaving their home country for work abroad. We will begin the course by examining the question of why people migrate. In the second section, we will focus on the effects of migration on migrant-sending developing countries. In the third section, we will examine the impacts of migration on migrant-receiving countries. Through lectures, discussion, debates, and written policy briefs, we will use economics as a toolbox for analyzing the complex issues of migration policy.

Requisite: ECON 111/111E. Limited to 35 students. Fall semester. Professor Theoharides.

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2014, Fall 2015

225 Industrial Organization

This course examines the determinants of and linkages between market structure, firm conduct, and industrial performance. Some of the questions that will be addressed include: Why do some markets have many sellers while others have only few? How and why do different market structures give rise to different prices and outputs? In what ways can firms behave strategically so as to prevent entry or induce exit of rival firms? Under what circumstances can collusion be successful? Why do firms price discriminate? Why do firms advertise? Does a competitive firm or a monopoly have a greater incentive to innovate? In answering these and other questions, the consequent implications for efficiency and public policy will also be explored.

Requisite: ECON 111/111E. Limited to 50 students.  Spring semester.  Professor Ishii.

2017-18: Offered in Spring 2018
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Spring 2011, Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2016

227 International Trade

This course uses microeconomic analysis to examine economic relationships among countries. Issues addressed include why nations trade, the distributional effects of trade, economic growth, factor mobility, and protectionism. Also included are discussions of the special trade-related problems of developing countries and of the history of the international trading system.

Requisite: ECON 111/111E. Limited to 50 students. Omitted 2015-16.  Professor B. Yarbrough.

2017-18: Offered in Fall 2017 and Spring 2018
Other years: Offered in Fall 2008, Spring 2009, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2015

235 Open-Economy Macroeconomics

This course uses macroeconomic analysis to examine economic relationships among countries. Issues addressed include foreign exchange markets, the balance of payments, and the implications of openness for the efficacy of various macroeconomic policies. Also included are discussions of the special macroeconomic problems of developing countries and of the history of the international monetary system. Not open to students who have taken ECON 435.

Requisite: ECON 111/111E. Limited to 50 students. Omitted 2015-16. Professor B. Yarbrough.

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014

237 Financial Globalization, Growth and Crises

This course surveys the recent wave of financial globalization and assesses both its merits and potential risks. In particular, we will examine the most important potential benefit of financial globalization, an increased rate of economic growth that can be a powerful tool in alleviating poverty. We will analyze the theoretical arguments for a growth-enhancing effect of globalization and discuss the empirical evidence. We will then turn to the most important potential drawback: the risk of a devastating financial crisis, particularly in emerging market economies that have only recently opened to international capital movements. Throughout the course we will emphasize the conditions and policies under which financial globalization is likely to be successful. The course will conclude with an analysis of the effect of financial globalization, as well as increased trade openness, on inflation and the conduct of monetary policy.

Requisite: ECON 111/111E.  Limited to 50 students. Consent of the instructor required for students who have taken ECON 435.  Spring semester.  Professor Honig.

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2010, Fall 2010, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Spring 2016

245 Development Economics

An introduction to the historical experience and current economic problems of developing countries, and survey of theories of economic growth and development.  Topics will include economic growth, health, education, urbanization, corruption, technology, aid, gender and institutions.  The course will throw light on market failures in developing countries and show how we can use the tools of economics to understand these problems and to evaluate policy options.

Requisite: ECON 111/111E. Limited to 50 students. Fall semester.  Professor Singh.

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2014, Fall 2015

265 Money and Economic Activity

This course studies the monetary systems that facilitate exchange. Such systems overcame the limitations of barter with commodity monies such as gold, and gradually evolved into financial intermediaries that issue paper notes and bank deposits as money. Intermediaries in markets for insurance, debt, and equity are studied too. Also, the effects of financial markets on aggregate economic activity and the level and term structure of interest rates are studied. Not open to students who have taken ECON 423.

Requisite: ECON 111/111E. Limited to 50 students. Fall semester. Professor Woglom.

2017-18: Offered in Fall 2017
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016

271 Economic History of the United States, 1600-1860

The economic development of the United States provides an excellent starting point for an understanding of both this nation’s history and its current economic situation. We begin with the colonial period and the creation of the nation and end with the Civil War and the breakdown of the Union. Throughout we provide an economic reading of the events and try to explain the conflicts and resolutions in economic terms.

Requisite: ECON 111/111E. Limited to 35 students. Fall semester. Professor Barbezat.

2017-18: Offered in Fall 2017
Other years: Offered in Fall 2010, Fall 2013, Fall 2015

272 Economic History of the United States, 1865-1965

The economic development of the United States provides an excellent starting point for an understanding of both this nation’s history and its current economic situation. We begin with the reconstruction period after the Civil War and end with the Civil Rights Era and the War on Poverty. Throughout we provide an economic reading of the events and try to explain the conflicts and resolutions in economic terms.

Requisite: ECON 111/111E. Limited to 35 students. Spring semester. Professor Barbezat.

2017-18: Offered in Spring 2018
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Fall 2014, Spring 2016, Spring 2017

275 Consumption and the Pursuit of Happiness

In the Declaration of Independence, the Founders called the “pursuit of happiness” an “inalienable right,” yet both psychologists and economists have noted that we do not well understand the determinants of the attainment of happiness or contentment. In this course, we will examine the literature on well-being in both micro- and macroeconomic contexts. We will review the neoclassical model of utility maximization and contrast it to other modes of understanding how and why people make the decisions they do, as they pursue their happiness. On the macroeconomic side, we will attempt to understand what factors (e.g. growth, unemployment, inflation) seem most important for policy-makers to focus on in order to sustain their citizens' well-being. The course will also include opportunities for students to examine their own consumption decisions and assumptions about the attainment of happiness. 

Requisite: ECON 111/111E. Not open to students who have taken ECON 425. Limited to 50 students. Omitted 2015-16.  Professor Barbezat.

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2011, Spring 2013, Spring 2015, Fall 2016

300 Microeconomics

This course develops the tools of modern microeconomic theory and notes their applications to matters of utility and demand; production functions and cost; pricing of output under perfect competition, monopoly, oligopoly, etc.; pricing of productive services; intertemporal decision-making; the economics of uncertainty; efficiency, equity, general equilibrium; externalities and public goods. A student may not receive credit for both ECON 300 and ECON 301.

Requisite: MATH 111, or equivalent and at least a "B" grade in ECON 111/111E or a "B-" in ECON 200-290, or equivalent. Limited to 50 students. Fall semester: Professor Baisa. Spring semester: Professor Singh.

2017-18: Offered in Fall 2017 and Spring 2018
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Spring 2008, Fall 2008, Spring 2009, Fall 2009, Spring 2010, Fall 2010, Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017

301 Advanced Microeconomics

This course covers similar material to that covered in ECON 300 but is mathematically more rigorous and moves at a more rapid pace. A student may not receive credit for both ECON 300 and ECON 301.

Requisite: At least a "B" grade in ECON 111/111E or a "B-" grade in ECON 200-290, or equivalent, and MATH 211 or equivalent, or consent of the instructor. Fall semester. Professor Baisa.

2017-18: Offered in Fall 2017
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2016

330 Macroeconomics

This course develops macroeconomic models of the determinants of economic activity, inflation, unemployment, and economic growth. The models are used to analyze recent monetary and fiscal policy issues in the United States, and also to analyze the controversies separating schools of macroeconomic thought such as the New Keynesians, Monetarists and New Classicals. A student may not receive credit for both ECON 330 and ECON 331.

Requisite: Math 111 or equivalent and at least a "B" grade in ECON 111/111E or a "B-" in ECON 200-290, or equivalent. Limited to 50 students.  Fall semester: Professor Honig. Spring semester: Professor Honig.

2017-18: Offered in Fall 2017 and Spring 2018
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Spring 2008, Fall 2008, Spring 2009, Fall 2009, Spring 2010, Fall 2010, Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017

331 Advanced Macroeconomics

This course covers similar material to that covered in ECON 330 but is mathematically more rigorous and moves at a more rapid pace. A student may not receive credit for both ECON 330 and ECON 331.

Requisite: At least a "B" grade in ECON 111/111E or a "B-" grade in ECON 200-290, or equivalent, and MATH 121 or equivalent, or consent of the instructor. Spring semester. Professor Woglom.

2017-18: Offered in Spring 2018
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2011, Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Spring 2016, Spring 2017

360 Econometrics

A study of the analysis of quantitative data, with special emphasis on the application of statistical methods to economic problems.  A student may not receive credit for both ECON 360 and ECON 361.

Requisite: MATH 111, or equivalent and at least a "B" grade in ECON 111/111E or a "B-" in ECON 200-290, or equivalent. Limited to 50 students.  Fall semester: Professor Westhoff.  Spring semester: Professors Sims and Theoharides.

2017-18: Offered in Fall 2017 and Spring 2018
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Spring 2008, Fall 2008, Spring 2009, Fall 2009, Spring 2010, Fall 2010, Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017

361 Advanced Econometrics

This course studies the specification, estimation, and testing of econometric models based on the maximum likelihood and method of moments principles. It builds from mathematical statistics and utilizes matrix algebra, the rudiments of which will be introduced in the course. The course will also review applications of econometric models to various areas of micro and macroeconomics. A student may not receive credit for both ECON 360 and ECON 361. 

Requisite: At least a "B" grade in ECON 111/111E or a "B-" grade in ECON 200-290, or equivalent, and MATH 211 or equivalent, and STAT 111 (previously MATH 130) or STAT 135 or equivalent. Fall semester.  Professor Ishii.

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2008, Spring 2010, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Spring 2014, Fall 2015, Spring 2017

408 Behavioral Economics

Behavioral economics is an active research field, drawing together people from psychology, economics, political science, and management, among other fields. Economic theory is based on the idea that economic agents are rational and investigates the implications of such rational behavior.  Empirical research has revealed discrepancies between derived "optimal" strategies and the actual behavior of decision makers in domains as varied as labor supply, asset allocation, retail markets and credit card usage.  Based on these empirical findings, behavioral economics questions the assumption of perfect rationality and uses insights from psychology to improve theoretical and empirical predictions of standard economic theory. This course aims to introduce students to this rapidly emerging and important field.

Requisite: ECON 300/301 and MATH 121.  Limited to 35 students. Spring semester. Professor Raymond.

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2016, Spring 2017

410 Microeconomics of Development

The course aims to study the latest research on topics in development economics.  It will focus on both randomized experiments as well as some of the classic microeconomic empirical papers on topics such as health, education, corruption, labor, microfinance and social capital. Students will be required to read and comment on published or working papers every week.  Class participation and peer discussions will be incentivized.  The final project will involve each student answering a question in development economics employing empirical analysis on micro-level data sets already available.

Requisite: Economics 360/361 or permission of instructor. Limited to 15 students. Fall semester. Professor Singh.

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Fall 2015, Spring 2017

412 Applied Microeconomics Seminar

The field of applied microeconomics (“applied micro”) is a fundamentally outward-looking branch of economics. Applied microeconomists take economic theories and methodologies out into the world and apply them to interesting questions of individual behavior and societal outcomes. This upper-level seminar will start with an overview of the field and its methodologies, followed by foundational material in econometric identification and behavioral economics. We will then address substantive areas such as environmental economics, the fetal origins hypothesis, antisocial behavior, economics of crime, and the economics of gender, race, and inequality. Specific topics will vary from year to year. Most of the course will be devoted to close reading of research papers, including discussion of the relative merits of particular theoretical and empirical methodologies. Students will participate actively in class discussion, make oral presentations, evaluate empirical data, and write analytical papers.

Requisite: ECON 300/301 (Microeconomics) and ECON 360/361 (Econometrics). Limited to 15 students. Fall semester. Professor Reyes.

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Spring 2017

416 Evaluating Social Policy

This is an upper-level seminar in social policy which examines a number of social programs in the United States, including Medicaid, the Earned Income Tax Credit, and Temporary Aid to Needy Families. The seminar will introduce you to the operation of these programs and will teach you how to use economic and econometric tools to evaluate them.  Most of the course will be devoted to close reading and discussion of research papers, including discussion of the relative merits of various empirical and econometric techniques.  Students will be asked to participate actively in class discussion, to make oral presentations, to evaluate empirical data, and to write analytical papers.  Throughout the course, we will think broadly about the goals of social policy, always keeping the canonical tradeoff between efficiency and equity at the forefront.  We will also consider the practical challenges faced not only by policymakers in designing effective policies but also by scholars in evaluating the effectiveness of those policies.

Requisite: Microeconomics (ECON 300/301) and Econometrics (ECON 360/361). Limited to 15 students. Fall semester. Professor Reyes.

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2015

420 Game Theory and Applications

Game theory analyzes situations in which multiple individuals (or firms, political parties, countries) interact in a strategic manner. It has proved useful for explaining cooperation and conflict in a wide variety of strategic situations in economics, political science, and elsewhere. Such situations can include, for example, firms interacting in imperfectly competitive markets, auctions, arms races, political competition for votes, and chess. This course will provide an introduction to the tools and insights of game theory. Though mathematically rigorous, emphasis will be on applications rather than on formal theory.

Requisite: ECON 300 or 301 or consent of the instructor. Limited to 40 students. Fall semester. Professor Kingston.

2017-18: Offered in Fall 2017
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2015

423 The Economics of Finance

A study of the role of financial markets in the efficient allocation of resources. We look at how financial markets: (1) enable the transfer of resources across time and space; (2) facilitate the reduction and management of risk; and (3) provide information about the future, which is important to public policymakers as well as private firms and individuals. The financial theories studied include: (1) the theory of present discounted values; (2) the capital asset pricing model; (3) the efficient markets hypothesis; and (4) the Black-Scholes model for the pricing of contingent claims.

Requisite: MATH 211 AND ECON 300 or 301; or consent of instructor. Limited to 35 students. Fall semester. Professor Woglom.

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Fall 2012, Fall 2014, Fall 2015

425 Microeconomic Foundations of Consumption and Happiness

In the Declaration of Independence, the Founders called the “pursuit of happiness” an “inalienable right,” yet both psychologists and economists have noted that we do not well understand the determinants of the attainment of happiness or contentment. In this course, we will examine the literature on well-being in both micro- and macroeconomic contexts. We will review the neoclassical model of utility maximization and contrast it to other modes of understanding how and why people make the decisions they do, as they pursue their happiness. On the macroeconomic side, we will attempt to understand what factors (e.g. growth, unemployment, inflation) seem most important for policy-makers to focus on in order to sustain their citizens' well-being. The course will also include opportunities for students to examine their own consumption decisions and assumptions about the attainment of happiness. 

Requisite: ECON 300 or 301.  Not open to students who have taken ECON 275.  Limited to 40 students. Omitted 2015-16.  Professor Barbezat.

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2011, Spring 2013, Spring 2015, Fall 2016

435 Topics in Open-Economy Macroeconomics

A seminar in international macroeconomics, with an emphasis on emerging market economies. We will read and discuss empirical research papers. Topics covered will include financial globalization, banking and currency crises, exchange rate regimes, dollarization, and institutions and governance.

Requisite: ECON 330/331, or ECON 235/237 with permission of the instructor.  Limited to 35 students. Fall semester. Professor Honig.

2017-18: Offered in Fall 2017
Other years: Offered in Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Fall 2016

441 Information and Incentives in Macroeconomics

Information frictions are important for a wide variety of questions in macroeconomics and public finance. This course will develop tools from information economics and apply them, primarily to macroeconomic problems.  We will study situations in which adverse selection, moral hazard, limited commitment, and strategic behavior create impediments to trade and prevent private markets from achieving efficient results. Applications can include credit constraints, default and collateral, bank runs, labor market contracts, unemployment, time inconsistency, and social insurance.

The approach of the course is rigorous and analytical, focusing both on providing students with very general modeling skills and on applying these skills to specific economic questions. Requirements will include solving analytical problem sets, as well as reading and discussing theoretical research papers. The course is especially suitable for students interested in mathematical modeling in economics and students considering doing research in economics.

Requisite: ECON 300/301, ECON 330/331, and MATH 211 (or MATH 121 with consent of instructor). This course will routinely use multivariable calculus. Limited to 15 students. Omitted 2015-16. Professor Rabinovich.

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Spring 2017

470 Mechanism Design

Mechanism design uses game theory to design systems, institutions, and mechanisms to achieve desired outcomes. We will study the theory of mechanism design and how it is used to design auctions, tax schemes, and matching mechanisms. The course will approach these issues from a theoretical perspective and also examine real-world applications. Examples will include how Google sells advertising space, how medical students are matched to residencies, and how governments sell bonds. Students will read and discuss current research on these topics and also complete an independent research project related to the course material.Requisite: ECON 301 or 420, MATH 211.  Limited to 18 students.  Omitted 2015-16.  Professor Baisa.

2017-18: Offered in Spring 2018
Other years: Offered in Spring 2015

471 Economic History Seminar

We will begin by examining contemporary growth and development models and then apply them to the sweep of global economic history over the past 300 years. The course is a seminar, so students will be assessed on their close reading and their responses to articles and books assigned in the course. Students will engage directly with economic history issues and will produce an original piece of research by the end of the course.

Requisite: ECON 300 or 301 and 330 or 331. Limited to 15 students. Omitted 2015-16. Professor Barbezat.

2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2008, Spring 2010, Fall 2012, Fall 2014

473 History of Economic Thought

Many challenges arise from the interaction between human desires and what is available.  Economics is the study of these challenges.  In this course, we will examine the many ways in which human beings have articulated this interaction and the responses that they have provided.  We will examine the intellectual history of how humans have conceived and managed scarcity on personal (microeconomic) and societal (macroeconomic) levels over time all over the globe. 

Requisite: ECON 300 or 301 and 330 or 331.  Limited to 15 students.  Spring semester.  Professor Barbezat.

2017-18: Offered in Spring 2018
Other years: Offered in Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2016

479 Institutions and Governance

All economic activity is embedded in a framework of institutions including both formal laws and contracts, and informal norms and conventions. Institutions constrain individual behavior and thereby affect resource allocation, income distribution, learning, and economic growth. This course introduces recent approaches to the study of institutions in economics and political science. Particular emphasis will be placed on recent applications to economic history and development, and to theories of institutional stability and change.

Requisite: ECON 420 or consent of the instructor. Limited to 15 students. Spring semester. Professor Kingston.

2017-18: Offered in Spring 2018
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Spring 2011, Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Spring 2016

490, 490H, 290, 390 Special Topics

Independent Reading Course. Full course.

Admission with consent of the instructor.  Fall and spring semesters.

2017-18: Offered in Fall 2017 and Spring 2018
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017

498 Senior Departmental Honors Seminar

A seminar preparing senior economics majors to undertake independent research for their honors projects. Five or six topics of current interest will be studied.

Requisite: An average grade of 11.00 or higher in ECON 300/301, 330/331, and 360/361. Fall semester. Professor Reyes.

2017-18: Offered in Fall 2017
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2016

499 Senior Departmental Honors Project

Independent work under the guidance of an advisor assigned by the Department.

Requisite: ECON 498. Spring semester.

2017-18: Offered in Spring 2018
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2011, Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Spring 2016, Spring 2017