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.
Requisite for all other courses in economics.
Two 80-minute and one 50-minute lecture/discussion per week. Each section is limited to 25 Amherst College students. Fall semester: Professors Baisa, Ishii, Rabinovich, Singh, and Westhoff.
Two 80-minute and one 50-minute lecture/discussion per week. Each section is limited to 30 Amherst College students. Spring semester. Professors Barbezat, Rabinovich and Singh.2020-21: Offered in Fall 2020, Spring 2021
(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 30 Amherst College students. Fall semester. Professor Sims.2020-21: Offered in Fall 2020, Spring 2021
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 35 students. Spring semester. Professor Sims.2020-21: Not offered
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. Spring semester. Professor Reyes.2020-21: Offered in Fall 2020
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.2020-21: Offered in Spring 2021
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. Fall and spring semesters. Professor B. Yarbrough.2020-21: Not offered
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. Fall semester. Professor B. Yarbrough.2020-21: Not offered
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. Fall semester. Professor Honig.2020-21: Offered in Fall 2020
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. Spring semester. Professor Singh.2020-21: Not offered
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. Omitted 2013-14. Professor Woglom.2020-21: Not offered
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.2020-21: Not offered
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. Limited to 50 students. Omitted 2013-14. Professor Barbezat.2020-21: Not offered
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. Fall semester: Professor Reyes. Spring semester: Professor Kingston.2020-21: Offered in Fall 2020, Spring 2021
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. Professors Baisa and Ishii.2020-21: Offered in Fall 2020
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 Rabinovich. Spring semester: Professor Honig.2020-21: Offered in Fall 2020, Spring 2021
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 Honig.2020-21: Offered in Spring 2021
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: Professor Sims.2020-21: Offered in Fall 2020, Spring 2021
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 130 and MATH 211 or equivalent. Spring semester. Professor Ishii.2020-21: Offered in Fall 2020
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.2020-21: Not offered
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. Spring semester. Professor Reyes.2020-21: Not offered
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. Omitted 2013-14. Professor Reyes.2020-21: Not offered
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. Limited to 40 students. Fall semester. Professor Kingston.2020-21: Offered in Fall 2020
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: ECON 300 or 301. Limited to 35 students. Omitted 2013-14. Professor Woglom.2020-21: Not offered
This course introduces students to the ways in which legal issues can be examined using the tools of economic analysis. Topics covered include: Property and contract law, accident law, family law, criminal law, financial regulation, and tax law. In all of these areas the intent is not to provide an exhaustive examination of the law, but rather to show how economic methods can contribute to an understanding of the basic issues that must be addressed by the law.
Requisite: ECON 300 or 301 or consent of the instructor. Omitted 2013-14.2020-21: Not offered
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 25 students. Fall semester. Professor Honig.2020-21: Offered in Spring 2021
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. Spring semster. Professor Rabinovich.2020-21: Not offered
An introduction to advanced econometric tools used to conduct empirical analysis of microeconomic data. Topics include extensions of linear regression to panel data, discrete choice models, unobserved heterogeneity, and sample selection. Depending on student interest, the course may also cover even more advanced topics including structural econometrics, simulation-based methods, and Bayesian analysis. Emphasis of the course is on the application of the tools to actual empirical research. Examples will be drawn from a variety of microeconomic fields including labor, public finance, and industrial organization. The interplay between econometrics and modern microeconomics will be a key theme.
Requisite: ECON 300 or 301 and 360 or 361. Limited to 15 students. Omitted 2013-14. Professor Ishii.
2020-21: Not offered
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 2013-14. Professor Barbezat.2020-21: Not offered
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.2020-21: Not offered
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.2020-21: Not offered
Independent Reading Course. Full course.
Admission with consent of the instructor. Fall and spring semesters.2020-21: Offered in Fall 2020, Spring 2021
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.2020-21: Offered in Fall 2020
Independent work under the guidance of an advisor assigned by the Department.
Requisite: ECON 498. Spring semester.2020-21: Offered in Spring 2021