Economics

Economics analyzes the ways in which resources can be most effectively organized to meet the changing goals of a society. Courses in the department combine theoretical and applied economics as a basis for developing and evaluating alternative public policies for entire economies and for the institutions and organizations within an economy. Department courses give a broad and practical perspective for those considering careers in law, government, business, education, journalism or social service; they also meet the needs of students seeking graduate work in economics, business administration, and public affairs. The basic introductory courses, 110 or 111 or both, are prerequisites to advanced courses; they offer a good foundation for further work in economics, but they have also been designed for students who have not yet selected majors and for those in other majors seeking an introduction to the analysis of economic theory and policies. Note: Either course in the principles sequence, Economics 110 or 111, can be taken first. Independent study (291 or 391) for those with special research interests can be taken with any faculty member.

Requirements for the Economics Major

All economics majors are required to successfully complete:

Mathematics 111 (or equivalent) and Statistics 120 (formerly Mathematics 215) or Statistics 250 (formerly Mathematics 275) or equivalent, are prerequisites for Economics 329 and 331, and Mathematics 111 (or equivalent) is a prerequisite for Economics 330. We strongly encourage prospective majors to complete all mathematics prerequisites no later than the sophomore year. Math courses may be taken on an elective S/Cr/NC basis but we encourage student to take these on a graded basis. Completion of the core sequence is a prerequisite for Advanced Seminars and the integrative exercise and must occur by the end of the junior year. We encourage students to take Economics 329 in their sophomore spring or junior fall terms. All Advanced Seminars (395) are currently offered only in fall term.

Any student intending graduate work in economics should also take Mathematics 120, 210 or 211, 232, 236, 241 and Statistics 250 (formerly Mathematics 275). Courses teaching additional skills such as computer science, advanced rhetoric and analysis of political and social policies are highly recommended.

Economics Courses

ECON 110 Principles of Macroeconomics This course gives students a foundation in the general principles of economics as a basis for effective citizenship and, when combined with 111, as a preparation for all advanced study in economics. Topics include analysis of the measurement, level, and distribution of national income; the concepts of inflation and depression; the role and structure of the banking system; fiscal and monetary stabilization techniques; implications of and limits to economic growth; and international economic relations. 6 credits; SI, QRE; Fall, Winter, Spring; Michael T Hemesath, Eduard Storm, Yaniv Ben-Ami
ECON 111 Principles of Microeconomics This course gives the students a foundation in the general principles of economics as a basis for effective citizenship and, when combined with 110, as a preparation for all advanced study in economics. Topics include consumer choice theory; the formation of prices under competition, monopoly, and other market structures; the determination of wages, profits, and income from capital; the distribution of income; and an analysis of policy directed towards problems of public finance, pollution, natural resources, and public goods. 6 credits; SI, QRE; Fall, Winter, Spring; Faress F Bhuiyan, Nathan D Grawe, Mark T Kanazawa, Jenny Bourne, Jonathan M Lafky, Prathi Seneviratne
ECON 201 Analysis of Microeconomic Development Models This course is the second part of a two-term winter break course sequence beginning with Economics 240. This course will focus on critically analyzing the appropriateness of modern microeconomic development models in the context of Bangladesh. Students exposed to various on-site visits and lectures in Bangladesh during the winter break will be required to research, write, and present their views on the reliability of different model assumptions and implications they studied in Economics 240. Prerequisite: Economics 111 and 240. 6 credits; SI, QRE, WR2, IS; Not offered 2020-21
ECON 210 AI and Economics Artificial Intelligence, as a practical endeavor, is the attempt to use computers to analyze data in a way that mimics or is superior to human comprehension. When successful, Artificial Intelligence allows the study of large datasets that would not be possible otherwise. These datasets open new possibilities to study social behavior by analyzing large amounts of transactions, social media, satellite images, phone locations, etc. The aim of this course is to introduce students to some of the tools of Artificial Intelligence that are emerging as useful for economists. The focus of the course will be introducing students to the practical application of such tools in the context of a modern programming language such as Python or R. It will center on a series of demonstration exercises using real data. These would provide a starting point for students who might want to use Artificial Intelligence in their own projects. Prerequisite: Economics 110 and 111. 3 credits; NE; Winter; Yaniv Ben-Ami
ECON 221 Cambridge Program: Contemporary British Economy The course focuses on the development of the British economy since the inter-war period. The approach integrates economic and historical analysis to discuss the development of the structure of the British economy, economic policy, and the institutions affecting economic performance. Students majoring in economics, political science, and history are particularly encouraged to apply, but the seminar is open to students of all majors. Prerequisite: Students who have completed Economics 110 and 111 by the end of spring term 2022 are eligible to participate in the seminar. 6 credits; SI, QRE, IS; Not offered 2020-21
ECON 230 Policy Analysis in Washington DC Students will participate in a seminar centered around meetings with experts in areas of global and domestic politics and policy.  Over the course of the term they will collaborate in groups to produce a presentation exploring the economic dimensions of public policy with a focus on identifying the costs and benefits to the various stakeholder groups and the methods economists use to measure those impacts. Prerequisite: Economics 110 or 111 and Statistics 120 (formerly Mathematics 215) or instructor consent. 6 credits; SI, QRE; Winter; Aaron M Swoboda
ECON 232 American Economic History: A Cliometric Approach An introduction to the growth of the American economy from colonial times to the present with emphasis on the nineteenth century. Topics include technical change, the choice of production technology, income distribution, demographic transition, factor markets, and the role of institutions. Debates in economic history such as the economic viability of antebellum slavery, the integration of capital markets, the role of railroads in the growth process, and the economic impact of the New Deal are evaluated with an emphasis on empirical evidence. May be counted toward the History major. Prerequisite: Economics 110 and 111. 6 credits; SI, WR2, QRE, IDS; Not offered 2020-21
ECON 233 World Economic History This course surveys world economic history from Paleolithic times to today. It helps students understand the fundamental forces that drive economic growth and living standards. We address questions such as: How did economic systems function during the ancient and medieval periods? What caused the Industrial Revolution, allowing billions of humans to escape the “Malthusian trap”? Why haven’t all countries experienced economic growth?  Finally, what lessons can we learn from the past to help us better understand what the future may hold? The course focuses on long-term trends, but we will also examine short-run cyclical phenomena such as financial crises. Prerequisite: Economics 110 and 111. 6 credits; SI, WR2, IS, QRE; Not offered 2020-21
ECON 240 Microeconomics of Development This course explores household behavior in developing countries. We will cover areas including fertility decisions, health and mortality, investment in education, the intra-household allocation of resources, household structure, and the marriage market. We will also look at the characteristics of land, labor, and credit markets, particularly technology adoption; land tenure and tenancy arrangements; the role of agrarian institutions in the development process; and the impacts of alternative politics and strategies in developing countries. The course complements Economics 241. Prerequisite: Economics 111. 6 credits; SI, QRE, IS; Fall; Faress F Bhuiyan
ECON 241 Growth and Development Why are some countries rich and others poor? What causes countries to grow? This course develops a general framework of economic growth and development to analyze these questions. We will document the empirical differences in growth and development across countries and study some of the theories developed to explain these differences. This course complements Economics 240. Prerequisite: Economics 110. 6 credits; SI, QRE, IS; Not offered 2020-21
ECON 246 Economics of Welfare This course presents economic theory on how society as a whole ranks and chooses between different alternatives. It delves into the realm of normative economics analyzing objectives society may want to pursue, mechanisms designed to reach those objectives, and the resulting welfare of individuals affected by the choices made. The theoretical tools discussed will be used to study different mechanisms of voting, redistributing income, government intervention, auctions, and trade. Among other things, students will be exposed to the Pareto criterion, Arrow's impossibility theorem, the Vickrey-Clarke-Grove mechanism, the Coase theorem, utilitarianism, Rawlsian ethics, and welfare theorems. Prerequisite: Economics 111. 6 credits; SI, QRE, IS; Not offered 2020-21
ECON 257 Economics of Gender This course uses economic theory and empirical evidence to examine gender differentials in education, marriage, fertility, earnings, labor market participation, occupational choice, and household work. Trends and patterns in gender-based outcomes will be examined across time, across countries, and within socio-economic groups, using empirical evidence from both historical and recent research. The impact of government and firm policies on gender outcomes will also be examined. By the end of the course, students will be able to utilize the most common economic tools in the study of gender inequality, as well as understand their strengths and weaknesses. Prerequisite: Economics 111. 6 credits; SI, QRE; Fall; Prathi Seneviratne
ECON 258 Ethical Questions and Economic Models While economists generally follow Friedman's advice and so focus on positive questions, our models routinely raise questions concerning distribution and other normative issues. This course explores that intersection between the positive and the normative. After studying normative theories proposed by Mill, Nozick, Rawls, Sen, and others, students will explore these ideas in a series of applications to understand better the positive and normative implications of economic models of regulation of prescription drug prices, Pigouvian taxation of externalities, standards for FDA drug approval, rent ceilings, minimum wages, anti-gouging laws, macroeconomic stimulus policies, and more. Prerequisite: Economics 110 and 111. 6 credits; SI; Not offered 2020-21
ECON 259 Economics of Higher Education This course examines current issues in higher education through the lens of both theoretical and empirical economics. Students will be exposed to both signaling models of higher education and empirical analyses of its returns. We will also discuss admissions as a matching process, rising tuition as a form of price discrimination, and the globalization of higher education, among other topics. Prerequisite: Economics 111. 6 credits; SI, WR2; Not offered 2020-21
ECON 262 The Economics of Sports In recent years, the sports business in the United States has grown into a multibillion-dollar industry. Understanding the sports business from an economic viewpoint is the subject of this course. Topics will include player compensation, revenue-sharing, salary caps, free agency, tournaments, salary discrimination, professional franchise valuation, league competitiveness, college athletics, and the economics of sports stadiums and arenas. Prerequisite: Economics 110 and 111. 6 credits; SI, QRE; Not offered 2020-21
ECON 263 Entrepreneurship, Innovation, and Economic Performance Joseph Schumpeter, in lamenting the absence of an accepted theory of entrepreneurship, observed that this gap in economics is much like having Hamlet performed with the Prince of Denmark absent. Much has changed since Schumpeter leveled this criticism. Economics has embraced the contributions of entrepreneurs and provided theoretical models explaining their actions. This course explores the foundations of a microeconomic theory of entrepreneurship, investigating the role of entrepreneurs (and intrapreneurs within large organizations) as agents for change. Case studies of business development provide practical illustrations of ways in which entrepreneurs operate and how their efforts contribute to economic progress. Prerequisite: Economics 110 or 111. 6 credits; SI; Fall; Bruce R Dalgaard
ECON 264 Health Care Economics This course will focus on the economics of medical care and how health care markets and systems work. We will consider both private health insurance markets and publicly provided social health insurance. The changes which demography, technology and the Affordable Health Care Act are bringing to health care delivery will be examined. Some time will be devoted to understanding the health care systems in other countries. This is a discussion course. Prerequisite: Economics 111. 6 credits; SI, QRE; Not offered 2020-21
ECON 265 Game Theory and Economic Applications Game theory is the study of purposeful behavior in strategic situations. It serves as a framework for analysis that can be applied to everyday decisions, such as working with a study group and cleaning your room, as well as to a variety of economic issues, including contract negotiations and firms' output decisions. In this class, modern game theoretic tools will be primarily applied to economic situations, but we will also draw on examples from other realms. Prerequisite: Economics 111. 6 credits; SI, QRE; Spring; Jonathan M Lafky
ECON 267 Behavioral Economics This course introduces experimental economics and behavioral economics as two complementary approaches to understanding economic decision making. We will study the use of controlled experiments to test and critique economic theories, as well as how these theories can be improved by introducing psychologically plausible assumptions to our models. We will read a broad survey of experimental and behavioral results, including risk and time preferences, prospect theory, other-regarding preferences, the design of laboratory and field experiments, and biases in decision making. Prerequisite: Economics 110 and 111. 6 credits; SI, QRE; Winter; Jonathan M Lafky
ECON 268 Economics of Cost Benefit Analysis Cost-benefit analysis is a tool commonly used by economists and policy makers to compare and choose among competing policy options. This course will cover the basic theory and empirical techniques necessary to quantify and aggregate the impacts of government policy, especially as related to the environment. Topics covered include the time value of money; uncertainty; sensitivity analysis; option value; contingent valuation; hedonic estimation; basic research design. Throughout the course case studies will be used to elucidate and bring life to the theoretical concepts. Prerequisite: Economics 111. Some statistics background will be useful. 6 credits; SI, QRE; Not offered 2020-21
ECON 269 Economics of Climate Change This course studies economic models of climate change and their implications for policy design. Covered topics include: the relationship between climate change and the macroeconomy, the performance of different climate policy instruments such as carbon taxes and cap and trade systems, the potential effects of innovation, and the economics surrounding the use of different types of energy. Prerequisite: Economics 110 and 111. 6 credits; SI, QRE; Not offered 2020-21
ECON 270 Economics of the Public Sector This course provides a theoretical and empirical examination of the government's role in the U.S. economy. Emphasis is placed on policy analysis using the criteria of efficiency and equity. Topics include rationales for government intervention; analysis of alternative public expenditure programs from a partial and/or general equilibrium framework; the incidence of various types of taxes; models of collective choice; cost-benefit analysis; intergovernmental fiscal relations. Prerequisite: Economics 110 and 111. 6 credits; SI, QRE, WR2; Fall; Jenny Bourne
ECON 271 Economics of Natural Resources and the Environment This course focuses on environmental economics, energy economics, and the relationship between them. Economic incentives for pollution abatement, the industrial organization of energy production, optimal depletion rates of energy sources, and the environmental and economic consequences of alternate energy sources are analyzed. Prerequisite: Economics 111. 6 credits; SI, QRE; Winter; Mark T Kanazawa
ECON 273 Water and Western Economic Development This course examines a number of important aspects of water as a legal/political/economic factor in the development of the western United States. The topics include western water law, the evolution of water supply institutions, state and local water planning, the role of the federal government, and a number of current water problems, including surface and groundwater pollution, impediments to market transfers of water, and state/regional/international conflicts over water. Prerequisite: Economics 111. 6 credits; SI, QRE; Not offered 2020-21
ECON 274 Labor Economics Why do some people choose to work and others do not? Why are some people paid higher wages than others? What are the economic benefits of education for the individual and for society? How do government policies, such as subsidized child care, the Earned Income Tax Credit and the income tax influence whether people work and the number of hours they choose to work? These are some of the questions examined in labor economics. This course will focus on the labor supply and human capital decisions of individuals and households. Prerequisite: Economics 110 and 111. 6 credits; SI, QRE; Winter; Faress F Bhuiyan
ECON 275 Law and Economics Legal rules and institutions influence people's behavior. By setting acceptable levels of pollution, structuring guidelines for contract negotiations, deciding who should pay for the costs of an accident, and determining punishment for crimes, courts and legislatures create incentives. How do economic considerations factor into legal rules, and how do laws affect economic output and distribution? In this class, we use court cases, experiments, and current legal controversies to explore such issues. Prerequisite: Economics 111. 6 credits; SI, QRE, WR2; Spring; Jenny Bourne
ECON 276 Money and Banking This course examines the role of money and monetary institutions in determination of income, employment, and prices in the domestic and world economies. It also examines the role of commercial banking and financial markets in a market-based economy. Prerequisite: Economics 110 and 111. 6 credits; SI, QRE; Spring; Yaniv Ben-Ami
ECON 277 History and Theory of Financial Crises The course provides an historical perspective on financial bubbles and crashes and critically examines theories of financial crises. The course will look at the long history of financial crises to highlight recurring themes and to try to determine, among other things, what went wrong, what elements precede most crises, and which responses were effective. Prerequisite: Economics 110 and 111. 6 credits; SI, IS; Winter; Eduard Storm
ECON 278 Industrial Organization and Firm Behavior This course analyzes the firm's marketing and pricing problems, its conduct, and the resulting economic performance, given the nature of the demand for its products, its buying markets, the nature of its unit costs, and the structure of its selling markets. Prerequisite: Economics 111. 6 credits; SI, QRE; Not offered 2020-21
ECON 279 Technological Change and the Labor Market This course studies dynamics in domestic labor markets in the context of technological advancements. Topics are centered around the impact of different types of technological change, implications on productivity, and job polarization. To gauge the economy’s structural transformation due to adoption of new technologies, we explore rising levels of employment and income inequality, both from a theoretical and empirical perspective. These core subjects are accompanied by discussions on related phenomena, which shaped modern labor markets, such as immigration and institutional changes in form of unionization and minimum wages. Prerequisite: Economics 110 and Economics 111. 6 credits; SI, QRE; Spring; Eduard Storm
ECON 280 International Trade A study of international trade theories and their policy implications. Classical and neo-classical trade models, the gains from trade, the terms of trade and the distribution of income, world trade patterns, international factor movements, tariffs, and the impact of commercial policy on developing and developed countries are analyzed. Prerequisite: Economics 111. 6 credits; SI, QRE; Spring; Prathi Seneviratne
ECON 281 International Finance This course studies theories of the multi-faceted interaction between the balance of international payments and foreign exchange market and the general levels of domestic prices, employment and economic activity. Topics include the balance of payments, foreign exchange markets, adjustment mechanisms in international payments, macroeconomic policies for internal and external balance, and international monetary systems. Prerequisite: Economics 110. 6 credits; SI, QRE; Spring; Michael T Hemesath
ECON 282 The Theory of Investment Finance This course provides an introduction to the main financial instruments that are used to fund economic activity. We will explore how investment products function and learn how to price a few of them. Attention will be given to the choices investors make, and should make, when allocating portfolios. Topics include bond pricing, stock pricing, option pricing, the mortgage market, hedge funds, private equity, optimal portfolios, defaults, financial intermediary capital, and investors' behavioral biases. Prerequisite: Economics 110 and 111. 6 credits; SI, QRE; Winter; Yaniv Ben-Ami
ECON 283 Corporate Organization and Finance This course investigates decision-making by firms and their managers. Specific topics include tradeoffs in corporate organization, executive compensation, project valuation, the cost of capital under debt and equity financing, and the firm’s optimal capital structure.  Prerequisite: Economics 110 and 111. 6 credits; SI, QRE; Not offered 2020-21
ECON 293 Race and Inequality This course examines the empirical economics literature surrounding racial inequalities. Readings will be selected by students to reflect the dimensions of inequality of greatest interest but may include: employment, earnings, wealth, education, criminal justice, and family choices. Students will draw on these works in addition to theories of economic justice to devlop proposals for just policy reform.  Prerequisite: Economics 110 and 111. 2 credits; S/CR/NC; HI, WR2; Fall; Nathan D Grawe
ECON 329 Econometrics This course is an introduction to the statistical methods used by economists to test hypotheses and to study and quantify economic relationships. The course emphasizes both econometric theory and practical application through analysis of economic data sets using statistical software. Prior experience with R is strongly encouraged. Topics include two-variable and multiple regression, interval estimation and hypothesis testing, discrete and continuous structural change, parameter restrictions, model construction, experimental design, issues of functional specification, model overfitting and underfitting, heteroscedasticity, autocorrelation, and multicollinearity. Prerequisite: Economics 110 and 111, Mathematics 111 and either Statistics 120 (formerly Mathematics 215) or Statistics 250 (formerly Mathematics 275) or instructor consent. 6 credits; SI, QRE; Fall, Spring; Mark T Kanazawa
ECON 330 Intermediate Price Theory An analysis of the forces determining relative prices within the framework of production and distribution. This class is normally taken by juniors. Sophomores considering enrolling should speak to the instructor. Prerequisite: Economics 110 and 111 and Mathematics 111. 6 credits; SI, QRE; Fall, Winter; Jenny Bourne
ECON 331 Intermediate Macro Theory Analysis of the forces determining the general level of output, employment, and prices with special emphasis on the role of money and on interest rate determination. This class is normally taken by juniors. Sophomores considering enrolling should speak to the instructor. Prerequisite: Economics 110 and 111, Mathematics 111 and Statistics 120 (formerly Mathematics 215) or Statistics 250 (formerly Mathematics 275) or instructor consent. 6 credits; SI, QRE; Winter, Spring; Nathan D Grawe
ECON 395 Advanced Seminar in Experimental Economics Experimental economics focuses on using controlled experiments to demonstrate causal relationships in economic decision making. We will develop a deep understanding of both the methodology and major findings of experimental economics. Many discussions will be student-led, through in-depth presentation of journal articles. Topics covered will be determined largely by student interest, but might include subjects such as altruistic behavior, bargaining, market behavior, risk preferences, public goods, and auctions. Prerequisite: Economics 329, 330 and 331 or instructor permission. 6 credits; NE; Fall; Jonathan M Lafky
ECON 395 Advanced Topics in Economics of Inequality This seminar focuses on empirical analysis of topics in the economics of inequality. Specific areas of study depend on student interest and may include: labor markets; earnings gaps across gender, race, sexual orientation, disability, and immigrant status; labor-market discrimination; gender inequality in different countries and regions; immigration and the role of cultural transmission; and family decision-making. Class time is primarily devoted to discussion of peer-reviewed journal articles, theory and application of advanced econometric techniques, and student-led presentations. Prerequisite: Economics 329, 330 and 331 or instructor permission. 6 credits; SI, WR2, QRE, IS; Fall; Prathi Seneviratne
ECON 395 Advanced Topics in Macroeconomics This course studies empirical analyses of macroeconomic models. In addition to providing a survey of broad macro topics like growth, aggregate consumption, monetary policy, unemployment, and finance, the course will introduce tools used by macroeconomists to understand how and why aggregate measures covary. In addition to large-class meetings, students will engage in a narrower topic area through weekly tutorial sessions. Prerequisite: Economics 329, 330, and 331, or instructor permission. 6 credits; SI, WR2, QRE; Fall; Nathan D Grawe
ECON 398 Advanced Research in Economics This course is designed to support majors in developing advanced skills in economic research and communication. Through a combination of class discussion, small group work, and/or one-on-one interactions with the professor, majors learn the process of constructing strong, theoretically-grounded arguments through primary research, secondary research, or both. Students will also learn and practice strategies for engaging critically with contemporary scholarship and effective techniques of peer review and the oral presentation of research. Prerequisite: Concurrent registration in Economics 400.; Economics 395 Instructor permission required. 6 credits; S/CR/NC; NE; Winter, Spring; Prathi Seneviratne, Nathan D Grawe, Jonathan M Lafky
ECON 400 Integrative Exercise 3 credits; S/NC; Winter, Spring; Prathi Seneviratne, Nathan D Grawe, Jonathan M Lafky