An introduction to the core ideas economists use to understand the U.S. and world economy. Every day, people use their time, talent and energy to produce, sell, buy and consume a bewildering variety of goods and services. How are all these activities organized and connected? How do societies decide what gets produced now, and how much to invest for the future? Why do some people, and some groups, earn more than others, and how can the economy be made more equitable? Why are some countries so much richer than others, and what might poor countries do to ‘catch up’? What effect does international trade have on workers, consumers, and firms, both in the U.S. and overseas? What can be done to mitigate the harmful effects of economic activity on the natural environment? What role does government play in organizing economic activity? Economics is the study of these and many other related questions. We study both microeconomics, which looks at the role of consumers, markets, firms, and governments in determining how our society allocates its scarce resources; and macroeconomics, which addresses the economy as a whole, especially issues related to output, unemployment, productivity, and inflation.
Limited to 25 students per section. Fall and spring semesters. The Department.Other years: Offered in Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Spring 2022, Fall 2022, Spring 2023, Fall 2023
Mainstream economics is fundamentally neoliberal, employing narratives of meritocracy to explain, normalize, and justify racial capitalism and the inequality and exploitation it inevitability produces. Pluralist economics provides alternative explanations and understandings, directly challenging the conceptualizations, models, methods, values, topics, and pedagogy of economic practice. This sophomore seminar engages students in an exploration of pluralist economics. Examples of pluralist approaches include: feminist economics, critical race theory, stratification economics, Marxist economics, cooperative economics, behavioral economics, institutional economics, and abolition economics. Given the interweaving of mainstream economics, capitalism, and white supremacy, this engagement with pluralist approaches entails an uncovering of and challenge to racist capitalist logics that are central to both economics and the economy. Together, we will endeavor to build a thoughtful, creative, and flexibly pluralist approach to our work as economic thinkers.
Requisite: ECON 111. Limited to 15 students. Spring semester. Professor Reyes.Other years: Offered in Spring 2023
This course introduces the field of behavioral economics, which incorporates insights from psychology into economics with the aim of improving human welfare. Behavioral economics studies how individuals actually make decisions, which may deviate from the way "rational actors" are modeled in terms of making decisions in classical economics. Motivated by non-fiction readings and academic articles, we will use behavioral economic frameworks to characterize this actual decision-making and to explore its consequences for markets and for policy. Topics covered include prospect theory, frameworks for intertemporal choice, the importance of framing and defaults, subjective well-being, and "nudges."
Requisite: ECON 111 or ECON 111E. Limited to 30 students. Spring semester. Professor Debnam Guzman.Other years: Offered in Spring 2023
This course uses economic models and tools to analyze environmental and natural resource problems such as climate change, air and water pollution, depletion of renewable and non-renewable resources, and land-use change. The frameworks studied include market failure due to externalities or public goods situations, the cost-effective allocation of pollution control, cost-benefit analysis, firm decision-making in response to regulations, and the management of renewable and non-renewable resources. We will also seek to understand and generate environmental policy solutions with attention to economic reasoning and analysis, including criteria of distributional equity.
Requisite: ECON 111 or 111E. Limited to 30 students. Spring Semester. Professor Sims.Other years: Offered in Fall 2012, Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Spring 2016, Spring 2019, Fall 2021
Economics is an ideology whose primary act of meaning-making is its self-presentation as objective social science. Through its graceful yet pernicious definitions of efficiency, value, competition, property, rights, and freedom, economics simultaneously hides and implements its oppressive neoliberal ideology. This class rejects this economics. In its place, guided by anti-racist principles, we work to develop a new economics with new definitions, new methods, and new frameworks. To do this, we must first characterize and understand the fundamental and fundamentally intertwined structural racism, patriarchal oppression, and violent distortion of both mainstream economic practice and American capitalism. We will then endeavor to rebuild, drawing on radical thought within economics (stratification and feminist economics) together with complementary justice-oriented work from related disciplines (sociology, social anthropology, political science, law, and critical race theory). Ultimately, our goal is to work towards an AntiRacist AntiEconomics. This course is numbered 211 to signify that it is a radical reintroduction to economics, a reconstructionist reprise of 111.
Requisite: ECON 111/111E. Limited to 30 students. Spring semester. Professor Reyes. Omitted 2023-242023-24: Not offered
Inequality is arguably one of the primary issues of our time. In this course, we will focus on understanding the particular manifestations of inequality in health and individual well-being that derive from inequality in environmental conditions. We will start with the canonical models of public economics, studying the role of government and paying particular attention to how failures of standard assumptions of rationality, perfect information, and perfect competition will lead to inefficiencies and inequities. We will then apply these modes of analysis to the following topic areas: a) poverty, inequality, meritocracy, and systemic racism; b) environmental inequality and environmental justice; c) health inequality and the cross-generational perpetuation of disadvantage. Lastly, we will consider the potential of public policy to improve societal well-being by targeting these inequities.
Requisite: ECON 111/111E. Limited to 30 students. Professor Reyes. Omitted 2023-24.2023-24: 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 assignments that ask students to engage technical problems and conduct 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 30 students. Fall semester. Professor Reyes.Other years: Offered in Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2017, Spring 2019, Fall 2020, Fall 2023
The United States is in an unprecedented period of rising inequality. This course begins by examining the history of inequality in the U.S. since the start of the twentieth century. It then uses cutting-edge and detailed national data to document and explore the current state of inequality and intergenerational mobility in the U.S. We consider inequality by various metrics, such as race, gender, and geography, and in various outcomes, such as income, wealth, health, educational attainment, and incarceration. The course then examines determinants of inequality, and finally, investigates policy solutions to inequality. Throughout the course, economic models related to inequality are both presented and critiqued. Finally, special attention is paid throughout the course to causal inference, and to students honing their skills at understanding the intuition behind commonly used research methods to estimate causal effects.
Requisites: ECON 111/ECON 111E. Limited to 30 students. Fall semester. Professor Hyman.Other years: Offered in Fall 2022, Fall 2023
The state plays a large role in the economy, employing a substantial fraction of the labor force, producing and consuming a wide variety of goods and services, building infrastructure, taxing economic activity, enforcing contracts, redistributing wealth, regulating industries, and so on. Therefore, the allocation of society’s resources - the subject matter of economics - depends crucially on how political decisions are made. This course is an introduction to rational-choice and game-theoretic analysis of collective decision-making in the public sphere: voting systems and democratic governance; legislative bargaining and policymaking; the role of interest groups and collective action; corruption, rent seeking and government failure; constitutional change; and the economic analysis of law.
Requisite: ECON 111 or equivalent. Limited to 30 students. Professor Kingston. Omitted 2023-24.2023-24: Not offered
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 or equivalent. Limited to 30 students. Spring semester. Professor Theoharides.
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 a 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 the 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 30 students. Spring semester. Professor Ishii.Other years: Offered in Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2016, Spring 2018, Spring 2019, Spring 2020, Spring 2021, Spring 2023
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 30 students. Not available to students who have taken ECON 435. Fall and spring semester. Professor Honig.Other years: Offered in Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Spring 2016, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Fall 2023
In this course, we study the role played by money, banking, and financial markets in the modern economy, with a particular emphasis on how financial intermediation facilitates exchange and how financial conditions promote (or inhibit) economic activity. Specific topics include stock and bond markets, financial institutions and banking regulation, central banking and monetary policy, international finance, and financial crises. We will learn the channels through which financial markets can affect employment, output, and inflation, and we will assess the effects of various policies on financial markets and broader economic conditions.
Requisite: ECON 111/111E. Limited to 30 students. Professor White. Omitted 2023-24.2023-24: Not offered
This course surveys major topics in the study of economic development. We will examine economic issues pertinent to developing countries through a discussion of economic theory and a review of empirical evidence. The topics covered will include economic growth, structural change, education, health, migration, gender, institutions, aid, and industrial policy. Using publicly available data, students will work on an empirical report identifying key development issues in a country of their choice and analyzing policy recommendations. Through lectures, discussions and the empirical project, the course aims to equip students with the tools they need to understand the various aspects of the development process and to evaluate policy options.
Requisite: ECON 111/ECON 111E. Limited to 30 students.Fall semester. Professor Gebresilasse.Other years: Offered in Fall 2022, Spring 2023, Fall 2023
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 30 students. Professor Barbezat. Omitted 2023-24.2023-24: 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 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 30 students. Fall semester. Professor Barbezat.Other years: Offered in Fall 2014, Spring 2016, Spring 2017, Spring 2018, Spring 2020, Fall 2023
Economics is often defined as “the study of the allocation of scarce resources.” But for what reason are we making this allocation? Most often, the goal is thought of as the attainment of well-being, for individuals, groups or societies and even ecosystems as a whole. Economics is essentially the study of the attainment of well‐being. Scarcity is the essential word – without it, a study of allocation would be irrelevant, and, of course, scarcity doesn’t just exist: it is created out of the interaction between limited resources/production and our wanting. This expresses the primary duality of economics: allocating resources to account for the interaction of what is or what is produced (supply) & our desire and wanting (demand). This course focuses on the demand-side – it is about our wanting, our decisions, our well-being, and what economics has to say about these and their interactions. Social scientists have become more interested in happiness and well‐being and have begun to question more intensely its measurement, distribution and causes, building on the foundations of many economists and philosophers over a long history of analysis. In this course, we will examine this literature with careful reading and textual analysis, and our own experiences from contemplative exercises.
Requisite: ECON 111/111E or equivalent. Limited to 30 students. Professor Barbezat. Omitted 2023-24.2023-24: Not offered
“Economics” is often defined as the study of the allocation of scarce resources. But what do we want to achieve from this allocation? We seem to want some idea of well-being – either for ourselves, certain groups or for a society at large. Economics is essentially the study of how we and the societies around us provide opportunities (sometimes only for selected groups…) to attain and sustain well-being given the constraints faced. This course analyzes the idea of economic “well-being” (utility) and examines the different ways in which the history of economic thought has conceived of well-being from antiquity to the present day, in part to study how these conceptions of well-being have affected economic analysis. We will examine the long history of this question with an emphasis on the contemporary period, looking carefully at neoclassical thought and its “heterodox” critics.
Requisite: ECON 111/111E or its equivalent. Limited to 30 students. Spring semester. Professor Barbezat.
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: Limited to 30 students. Professor Kingston.
Spring semester: Limited to 30 students each section. Professor Baisa. Professor Hyman.Other years: Offered in Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Spring 2022, Fall 2022, Spring 2023, Fall 2023
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. Limited to 20 students. Spring semester. Professor Baisa.Other years: Offered in Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2019, Fall 2020, Fall 2021, Spring 2023
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 30 students each section. Fall semester. Professor White.
Limited to 30 students each section. Spring semester. Professor White. Professor Blackwood.Other years: Offered in Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Spring 2022, Fall 2022, Spring 2023, Fall 2023
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. Limited to 20 students. Omitted 2023-24.2023-24: Not offered
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.
Fall semester: Limited to 30 students each section. Professor Katharine Sims.
Spring semester: Limited to 30 students. Professor Gebresilasse.Other years: Offered in Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Spring 2022, Fall 2022, Spring 2023, Fall 2023
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 or STAT 135 or equivalent. Limited to 20 students. Fall semester. Professor Ishii.Other years: Offered in Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Spring 2014, Fall 2015, Spring 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2019, Fall 2020, Fall 2022, Fall 2023
Behavioral economics is a young field which attempts to improve upon existing economic models and their attendant welfare implications by expanding the economists' toolkit to include insights from psychologists, sociologists, and other social scientists. This course offers an advanced overview of behavioral economics with special attention to the role of social preferences. At the core of the course is a focus on the theory and research methods underlying cornerstone findings in behavioral economics (e.g. loss aversion, the endowment effect, time inconsistency). Students will read and discuss current topics in behavioral economics research and complete an independent research project.
Requisite: ECON 300/301. Limited to 15 students. Professor Debnam Guzman. Omitted 2023-34.2023-24: Not offered
The goal of this course is to explore theoretical and empirical research on the links between economic development and environmental quality, including human health. We will seek to understand key tensions and solutions across topics including climate change, air and water quality, land use change, and natural resource management. We will read and discuss primary economic research, drawing on current papers in the fields of environmental economics and development economics. Course participants will develop an original paper that expands our understanding of the relationship between the economy and the environment in a low-income or socially-disadvantaged economic context.
Requisite: This course requires econometrics and either micro or macroeconomic theory (Econ 360/361 + Econ 300/301 or 330/331). It is a seminar, limited to 15 students, so that students can engage in extended discussions of the material and pursue their own related research topic. Professor Sims. Omitted 2023-24.2023-24: Not offered
In this class, we will engage in a pluralist approach to applied micro. What is pluralism, and what is applied micro? Pluralist economics challenges and reconceptualizes the methods, topics, models, values, and pedagogy of economic practice. By taking a diverse big-tent approach to how to do economics, pluralist econ aspires to reinvigorate the "social" in the social science of economics, while also de-emphasizing some of the "science" (at least the scientific posturing). It includes ecological, cooperative, Marxist, feminist, stratification, and antiracist varieties of economic practice. Applied microeconomics also understands itself as modern and innovative: it employs the tools of economics to provide insight into individual behavior and societal outcomes, and is perceived by mainstream economists as interdisciplinary, creative, and diverse. However, in its strict adherence to the norms of mainstream economics – methodological individualism, mathematical formalization, prioritization of efficiency, and blindness to power – applied micro may instead be seen, from a pluralist perspective, as rigid, doctrinaire, and homogeneous. This practicum brings pluralism to applied micro via two complementary endeavors. First, as a group, we will employ pluralist framings to explore the applied micro literature. Second, as individuals, each student will implement a pluralist approach to an applied micro research project. Our two class meetings each week will be shared equally between these endeavors: one for seminar-style discussion of literature, one for practicum work on individual research in community. The aspiration is to do economics in a way that is adventurous rather than imperialist, curious and exploratory rather than settler colonial, and humanistic rather than narrowly scientific.
Requisite: Econ 300/301; Econ 360/361. Also, one course on non-mainstream economics, racial capitalism, Marxism, history of economic thought, or sociology applied to economies; examples from within econ include Econ 205, Econ 211, Econ 416, or Econ 300 from Fall 2022. Limited to 15 students. Professor Reyes.
Pending Faculty ApprovalOther years: Offered in Fall 2023
Much of urban economics focuses on the origin and development of cities. But, more generally, urban economics is the study of the role of location/space in the decision-making of households and firms. Among the topics that may be addressed in the course are (1) modern trends in urban development, such as suburbanization and gentrification; (2) agglomeration of economic activities, such as advertising in Manhattan and hi-tech in Silicon Valley; (3) provision of local public goods, such as K-12 education and mass transit; and (4) housing policy and land use regulation, such as low income housing and zoning. The course combines relevant economic theories and models with discussion of current policy issues.
Requisite: ECON 300 or 301. Limited to 15 students. Spring semester. Professor Ishii.Other years: Offered in Fall 2022
(Offered as ECON 416, BLST 416 and SWAG 416) Economics is fundamentally about both efficiency and equity. It is about allocation, welfare, and well-being. How, then, can we use this disciplinary perspective to understand hierarchy, power, inequity, discrimination, and injustice? What does economics have to offer? Applied microeconomics is a fundamentally outward-looking and interdisciplinary field that endeavors to answer this question by being both firmly grounded in economics and also deeply connected to sociology, psychology, political science, and law. In this class, we will employ this augmented economic perspective to try to understand the hierarchies and operation of race and gender in society. We will read theoretical and empirical work that engages with questions of personal well-being, economic achievement, and social interaction. Students will have opportunities throughout the semester to do empirical and policy-relevant work. Each student will build a solid foundation for the completion of an independent term paper project that engages with a specific economic question about racial or gender inequity.
Requisite: ECON 300/301 (Microeconomics) or consent of the instructor. Limited to 15 students. Professor Reyes. Omitted 2023-24.2023-24: Not offered
Education is one of the most promising ways to fight inequality, yet inequality in educational attainment is rising in the United States. This course focuses on understanding inequality in education in the U.S., and whether and how education reform can reduce it. The course begins with a brief overview of the historical and current relationship between educational attainment and inequality in the U.S. We then study the empirical economics literature examining whether prominent education policies and reforms reduce inequality in educational attainment. We examine topics in: 1) early childhood education, such as Head Start and universal preschool; 2) K-12 education, such as school finance reform, desegregation, and student-teacher race match; and 3) postsecondary education, such as affirmative action in college admissions, simplifying the college and financial aid application process, and financial aid during college. Throughout the semester, students learn commonly used empirical microeconometric research methods to identify causal impacts, and then employ these tools in their own empirical research paper.
Requisites: ECON 360/361. Limited to 15 students. Spring semester. Professor Hyman.Other years: Offered in Spring 2023
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 30 students. Spring semester. Professor Kingston.Other years: Offered in Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2019, Fall 2020, Fall 2021, Fall 2022
In this course, we will explore the determinants of educational acquisition in developing countries. We will begin by discussing human capital theory. We will then explore a number of key determinants of educational outcomes in developing countries, such as educational infrastructure, teacher quality, conditional cash transfers, anti-child labor programs, and peer effects. The course will also include a module comparing the key questions in the economics of education facing developed versus developing countries. The purposes of this course are to deepen understanding of the determinants of educational investments and to build experience with using empirical research to expand knowledge in this area. To that end, much of the course will focus on careful reading of empirical journal articles, discussion of the various econometric techniques used, and causal identification. The course is built around student development of an original paper that expands our empirical understanding of the determinants of educational investments in a low-income economy context.
Requisites: ECON 300/301 and ECON 360/361. Limited to 15 students. Fall semester. Professor Theoharides.Other years: Offered in Fall 2023
In this course, we will explore key development topics with a focus on research papers that use geospatial analysis to answer fundamental questions related to economic development. Geospatial analysis has been applied in economic research to examine an array of factors that shape economic development including roads, internet access, trade links, institutions, slavery, climate change, and inequality. We will carefully read a selection of journal articles that employ geospatial analysis, paying close attention both to the important economic insights as well as the econometric and geospatial methodologies employed in the articles. The course will begin with an introduction of the main types of datasets, tools and techniques employed in geospatial analysis using R programming language. In addition to carefully studying and discussing selected research papers that apply geospatial analysis, students will also replicate some of the analyses presented in these papers. Overall, the course aims to familiarize students with the application of geospatial analysis in cutting-edge economic research and enable them to develop an original research project that makes use of the tools and techniques explored in the course.
Requisite: ECON 300/301 and ECON 360/361. Limited to 15 students. Spring semester. Professor Gebresilasse.
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 consent of the instructor. Limited to 30 students. Fall semester. Professor Honig.Other years: Offered in Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2019, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Fall 2023
The way a society creates and distributes money has a large impact on people’s income, wealth, employment opportunities, and financial security more generally. In this course, we will study modern monetary institutions and their impact on the economy. We will use both empirical and theoretical frameworks to address questions like: What causes inflation? How do interest rate changes affect employment? and How should policymakers decide what actions to take? We will examine the operational aspects of modern central banks as well as how and why the banks have evolved over time. We will also assess central bank tools to address inequality and climate change. Students will read research papers, follow current policy debates and decisions, and engage in independent research projects.
Requisite: ECON 330/331, ECON 360/361. Limited to 15 students. Spring semester. Professor White.Other years: Offered in Spring 2023
This course explores the economic importance of entrepreneurship, with a focus on recent empirical findings. We will study the roles entrepreneurs play in innovation, economic growth, and rising living standards, as well as determinants of entrepreneurial success such as finance, geography, and entrepreneur characteristics. The course will also cover implications for policy and explore recent patterns in entrepreneurial activity in the United States. Students will become familiar with key research findings on entrepreneurship, conduct research utilizing publicly available data on firms and workers, and identify real-world examples of course concepts.
Requisite: ECON 360/361. Limited to 15 students. Spring semester. Professor Blackwood.Other years: Offered in Fall 2022
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 15 students. Professor Baisa. Omitted 2023-24.2023-24: Not offered
Robert Lucas famously claimed: “the consequences for human welfare involved in questions … [of long-run economic growth] … are simply staggering: Once one starts to think about them, it is hard to think about anything else.” This is a seminar in which we will start thinking about the why, how, and where long-run economic global growth occurred, or tragically did not occur. Through this inquiry students will learn why Lucas made this dramatic claim.
For most of human history, median per capita incomes all over the planet were relatively similar and stable. This began changing radically, only for some, during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.
In this seminar, we will describe and begin to explain this long-run economic process that brought us to the contemporary global economy. We will first examine the long swing of the stable Malthusian equilibrium briefly described above by delving into hunter/gatherer societies, ancient agrarian societies and the agriculturally based economies that developed though the fifteenth century. We then will turn to the long process of breaking this Malthusian equilibrium and examine the economic growth that really first occurred in Northern Europe and England. Finally, we will analyze the modern period of increased economic growth in certain parts of the world and the lack of that growth in others, resulting in the incredible global inequality during and after the nineteenth century.
Requisite: ECON 300/301 and ECON 330/331. Limited to 15 students. Professor Barbezat. Omitted 2023-24.2023-24: Not offered
For most of human history, all over the planet, people were sitting within a rather stable, Malthusian equilibrium, with very similar imputed levels of per capita income. This radically changed, for some, at the end of the eighteenth century. The goal of this course is to provide an introduction to the economic development of the contemporary world and an opportunity to support research on a specific topic within economic history. We will first examine the long swing of the Malthusian equilibrium in pre-industrial economies, focusing on hunter gatherer and agrarian economies. Next, we will turn to examine the breakdown of the Malthusian equilibrium (occuring only in some parts of the world), and the long transition to rapid growth after the sixteenth century. Because we know that only certain regions of the world participated in this unprecedented growth, we will then examine the consequences of this great uneven shift, often referred to as the “Great Divergence.”
The course requires both Macroeconomic and Microeconomic theory, as we will be examining the behavior and the consequences at both the individual, as well as the economy-wide, level. It is a seminar, limited to 15 students, so that students can engage in extended discussions of the material and pursue their own related research topic.
Requisite: ECON 300 or 301 and 330 or 331. Limited to 15 students. Fall semester. Professor Barbezat.Other years: Offered in Fall 2023
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. Professor Kingston. Omitted 2023-24.2023-24: Not offered
Independent reading course. Half course.
Admission with consent of the instructor. Fall and spring semesters.The Department.Other years: Offered in Fall 2023
The senior departmental honors seminar is a workshop that supports the first half of senior thesis work in economics. Students learn research methods and engage with economic research via close reading, structured writing, empirical analysis, theoretical reasoning, and active participation in discussion. Students develop and refine their own research proposals, so that by the end of the semester each student’s proposal clearly states a research question, places that question into context, and outlines a feasible approach. By the end of the semester, students will be deeply into the research, analysis, and writing process for a well-designed honors project.
Requisites: An average grade of B+ or higher in Economics 300/301, 330/331, and 360/361; successful completion of one 400-level economics class. Fall semester. Professor Hyman.Other years: Offered in Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2019, Fall 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Spring 2022, Fall 2022, Fall 2023
Independent work under the guidance of an advisor assigned by the Department.
Requisite: ECON 498. Spring semester. The Department.Other years: Offered in Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Spring 2016, Spring 2017, Spring 2018, Spring 2019, Spring 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Spring 2022, Spring 2023
(Offered as ECON 111E and ENST 230) An introduction to the core theories and measures of markets and the current economic system. We study both microeconomics, which addresses the central problem of resource scarcity and how markets for individual goods and services function, and macroeconomics, which addresses the economy as a whole and key aggregate measures such as unemployment and inflation. Econ 111E covers the same material as ECON 111 but with special attention to the relationship between economic activity and environmental problems, including market failures, and to the application of economic 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/discussions per week.
Admission with consent of the instructor. Limited to 25 Amherst College students. Spring semester. Professor Sims.Other years: Offered in Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Fall 2018, Spring 2020, Fall 2021, Spring 2022, Spring 2023
Independent reading course. Full course.
Fall and spring semesters. The Department.Other years: Offered in Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Spring 2021, Spring 2022, Fall 2023