Course Information

Our courses focus on current and important social problems. The world is constantly confronted with public policy issues that are essentially economic in character. Economic analysis provides a coherent and principled framework for examining these issues and understanding the tradeoffs involved in attempting to solve social problems.

Economics 01: The Price System - Analysis, Problems, and Policies

Emphasis will be placed on problems and policies of current interest as they relate to resource use and the distribution of income and output. Students will receive an introduction to the theory of supply and demand in both product and factor markets in order to examine selected topics drawn from such areas as industrial organization and antitrust policy, labor economics, international trade, economic development, agriculture, urban problems, poverty and discrimination, public sector economics, and environmental problems.

Distributive: SOC

Economics 02: Economic Principles and Policies

This is a general survey course for students who have had no previous college-level economics and who do not plan to take further economics courses. It is divided between microeconomic concepts — supply and demand, labor and capital markets, tax incidence, comparative advantage, international trade, and benefit-cost analysis — and macroeconomic issues, such as economic growth, unemployment, inflation, national income and product accounting, the banking system, and monetary and fiscal policy. Applications to current policy issues will be emphasized throughout.
Economics 2 may be taken under the Non-Recording Option (NRO). It does not count towards the major or minor. The course has “negative”
prerequisites: Students who have previously taken Economics 1 or who have been exempted from Economics 1 at matriculation may not enroll in Economics 2. Completion of Economics 2 does not, however, preclude subsequent enrollment in Economics 1.

Distributive: SOC

Economics 03: Essential Mathematics for Economic Analysis

This course covers many of the same basic calculus topics as Math 3, but with the focus on developing an understanding of the mathematical structure of economics, since having mathematical skill is essential to the study of economics. Examples of economic applications of calculus topics include using derivatives to study consumer demand and labor productivity and using integrals to study income distributions.  Additionally, key statistical measures needed for econometrics classes, such as expected value and variance will be introduced.

Prerequisites: MATH 1

Distributive: QDS

Economics 05: Adam Smith and Political Economy

The eighteenth-century Scottish philosopher Adam Smith was one of the founders of "political economy," the study of the interrelationship between society, government, and the economy. This course focuses on Smith's major ideas through his two important works, The Theory of Moral Sentiments and The Wealth of Nations, and deals with such topics as the origins and consequences of economic growth, and the role of government in a commercial society.


Economics 06: Personal Finance

Managing one's own finances is something most of us will need to do over the course of a lifetime.  Decisions like how much to borrow to fund education or how much to save for retirement, or the monthly budget choices we might make to balance necessary and desired spending with net income, all affect our personal well-being.  This course is designed to do three important things: 1) give students a basic grounding in financial literacy by learning some tools and principles of personal finance that can be used in daily life, 2) introduce students to empirical research on the ways households use the financial system with particular emphasis on understanding some behavioral biases and common mistakes people make, and 3) explore ways in which the financial system can be improved to make it easier and safer to use.  Over the course of the term, students will build their own personal finance portfolios incorporating their learning into their own individualized plans.  

NOTE: This course is not open to students who have received credit for ECON 026, 036, or 046.

Economics 10: Introduction to Statistical Methods

This course introduces the student to the basic concepts and methods of statistics. It covers descriptive statistics and inference (estimation and hypothesis testing) for a single variable and for two variables. The probability theory required for these topics will be developed.

Prerequisite: MATH 1 (or placement into MATH 3 or a higher-level calculus course). ECON 1 recommended. Economics 10 is a prerequisite to the major in Economics. This course should be taken early in the student's major program. Because of the overlap in material covered, a student will not receive credit for more than one of these courses; Economics 10, Government 10, Mathematics 10, Psychology 10, QSS 15, or Sociology 10 except by special petition.

Distributive: QDS

Economics 15: Political Economy of China

This course examines how politics, economics, and culture have shaped the modern Chinese economic policy. Course topics include the Mao era, the pathologies of socialism and central planning, and the post-Mao transition to the market. Special emphasis will be placed on how "capitalism with Chinese characteristics" affects innovation, entrepreneurship, and law. Students will be graded on class participation as well as original research.

Prerequisite: Economics 1

Distributive: INT or SOC

Economics 16: Regulation

This course examines the history, politics and economics of market regulation in the United States. Class discussions will focus on the arguments for and against state intervention in the market. We will also explore the meaning of "market failure" and "government failure" in the context of financial markets, transportation, the environment, health care, and public utilities. Special emphasis will be placed on how regulation affects prices and why regulated firms may demand regulation. Students will be graded on class participation as well as original research.

Prerequisite: Economics 1

Distributive: SOC

Economics 19: The Clash of Economic Ideas

Do the ideas of economists change the world? Or do major events change the ideas of economists? This course interweaves economic history with the history of economic thought to explore some of the major economic events that have changed our world over the past two centuries, such as the industrial revolution, the Great Depression, the collapse of socialism, and the globalization of the world economy. We will explore how the ideas of economists continue to influence how we think about how the economy works and the role of government in the economy. In particular, we will be studying the works of Adam Smith, Karl Marx, John Maynard Keynes, Friedrich Hayek, and Milton Friedman.

Prerequisite: Economics 1

Economics 20: Econometrics

Econometrics is the statistical analysis of economic data. This course focuses on regression analysis (specification, estimation, and hypothesis testing) and problems and pitfalls in its application in economics. The course involves extensive use of the statistical program STATA and will enable students to implement their own empirical research projects in preparation for the culminating experience in the economics major.

Prerequisites: Economics 1, Economics 10 and Mathematics 3

Distributive: QDS

Economics 21: Microeconomics

This course is a study of the pricing and allocation process in the private economy. Topics include the theories of demand and production, and the determination of prices and quantities for commodities and factors of production in competitive and noncompetitive markets. Applications of the theory and its implications for empirical analysis are also considered.

Prerequisites: Economics 1 and Mathematics 3

Distributive: SOC

Economics 22: Macroeconomics

This course is concerned with the behavior of the economy as a whole, particularly fluctuations in economic activity. General equilibrium models are developed to analyze the determinants of GNP, unemployment, the rate of inflation, and the growth of output. The micro foundations of macro aggregates are developed, with special emphasis on the role of expectations. The analytic tools are used to evaluate monetary and fiscal policies and to understand current macroeconomic controversies.

Prerequisites: Mathematics 3 and Economics 1

Distributive: SOC

Economics 24: Development Economics

This course uses economic analysis to understand contemporary issues in low-income countries. We consider why extreme poverty and hunger, child mortality, low-levels of education, gender inequality, environmental degradation, high fertility, and child labor are pervasive in the developing world. We also examine the economic consequences of globalization and infectious diseases such as malaria and HIV/AIDS. For each topic, we seek to understand the factors and constraints influencing decision-making in developing countries. We use this understanding to discuss the role of markets, civil organizations, government policy, and international institutions.

Prerequisites: Economics 1 and Economics 10

Distributive: SOC or INT, WCULT: NW

Economics 25: Competition and Strategy

This course examines the strategies that businesses use in choosing prices, advertising, research and development, and mergers to maximize their profits. The course studies how business strategy is constrained by market competition and antitrust policy (government policy toward monopoly, collusion, and mergers). The analysis is conducted using game theory, empirical methods, and experimental methods.

Prerequisites: Economics 1, Economics 10, Economics 21 and Mathematics 3

Distributive: SOC

Economics 26: The Economics of Financial Intermediaries and Markets

This course examines the nature and function of financial intermediaries (e.g., banks, mutual funds, and insurance companies) and of securities markets (e.g., the money and capital markets and the market for derivatives). It analyzes liquidity and risk management and studies the efficiency, stability, and regulation of the financial system.

Prerequisite: Economics 1

Distributive: SOC

Economics 27: Labor Economics

This course studies the economic behavior of employers and employees as they interact in the labor market. The class will move beyond the basics of labor supply and demand to cover such topics as human capital investment, the structure and determinants of financial compensation and benefits packages, contract negotiations and arbitration. Additionally, since many of the pressing problems facing the United States are labor market issues, this course will provide a basis for better understanding of nationally-debated issues such as reforms of the welfare system, the income tax system, immigration policy, and affirmative action programs.

Prerequisite: Economics 1

Distributive: SOC

Economics 28: Public Finance and Public Policy

Government policies exert a pervasive influence over the economy and people’s wellbeing. This course first analyzes the economic effects of public policies in the areas of environmental pollution, social insurance, retirement income, health, and poverty alleviation. The course then studies how governments finance their operations, paying attention both to institutional details and the effects of tax systems on efficiency and inequality. Throughout, we use empirical evidence and economic reasoning to better understand economic tradeoffs involved in current and proposed policies, including health reform, universal basic income, wealth taxation, unemployment insurance, fundamental tax reform, and Social Security.

Prerequisite: ECON 1

Distributive: SOC

Economics 29: International Finance and Open-Economy Macroeconomics

This course covers introductory material in the area of international monetary theory and policy. It examines the behavior of international financial markets, the balance of payments and exchange rates, interactions between the balance of payments, the exchange rate and domestic economic activity and ways of organizing the international monetary system.

Prerequisite: Economics 22

Distributive: SOC or INT

Economics 31: An Introduction to Behavioral Economics

Behavioral economics seeks to enrich economics with insights, often drawn from other disciplines, that help us better the world by improving understanding of human decision making and its limitations. This course provides an overview of how behavioral economists go about doing this, and the extent to which we are making progress, with a focus on individual decision making. We start with the standard approach to behavioral economics-- augmenting a classical model with allowance for one or two among dozens of potential decision making biases or constraints at a time-- and build to prospects for grand unification of behavioral economics. Along the way, we consider now-canonical biases-- including time-inconsistent discounting, loss aversion, and overconfidence-- as well as roles for other canonical and developing constructs like cognitive skills and limited attention. We consider both theoretical models and empirical evidence, with an emphasis on field (a.k.a. "real-world") evidence. We touch on implications for business strategy, and review the design and performance of behaviorally-motivated interventions to improve human decision making, including nudges, commitment devices, and modifications to classical economic approaches to tax policy and regulation.

Prerequisites: Economics 1 and Economics 21

Economics 32: Monetary Policy and the Macroeconomy

This course will examine the key elements of a monetary policy framework, investigate how monetary policy decisions influence financial conditions and macroeconomic outcomes, and consider the practical challenges of monetary policymaking in a global context. Basic methods in time-series econometrics will be used to analyze macro data, construct forecasts. and assess current monetary policy strategies. Students will work together in teams, each of which will collect and analyze information for a specific country and give a series of oral presentations to the class.

Prerequisite: Economics 1, Economics 10 and Economics 22

Distributive: SOC

Economics 35: Games and Economic Behavior

Game theory is the study of decisions made in strategic settings. The course introduces equilibrium concepts solving the infinite-regress problem (A's decision depends on B's which depends on A's, and so forth) in increasingly complex environments. A wealth of social-science applications are considered ranging from business competition to terrorism as well as lighter applications to sports and games.

Prerequisite: Economics 1, Economics 10 and Mathematics 3

Distributive: SOC

Economics 36: Theory of Finance

This course studies decision making under risk and uncertainty, capital budgeting and investment decisions, portfolio theory and the valuation of risky assets, efficiency of capital markets, option pricing, and problems of asymmetric information.

Prerequisites: Economics 10, Economics 21, and Economics 26

Distributive: SOC

Economics 37: Gender and Family Issues in Modern Economies

This course examines the changing economic roles of women and men in modern economies and the trade-offs faced by households. The origins and persistence of these trade-offs are analyzed through the lenses of economic model. The ultimate objective is to provide you with the tools to critically address a wide range of real-world questions related to gender and family. For instance: How have technological changes in the home and the market transformed families? What forces led married women to enter paid employment? What forces might lead them to "opt-out"?

Prerequisite: Economics 1 and Economics 10

Economics 38: The Economics of Governments and Public Policy

Fundamental questions in public finance concern when and how governments should intervene in the economy. However, another fundamental question is: why do governments do what they do? This course considers governments as economic actors. We will theoretically and empirically investigate how social decisions are made; why governments fail; why different levels of government (federal, state, local) fund different public goods and services; and how governments at different levels interact. Topics to be covered include externalities and public goods, political economy, and fiscal federalism. K-12 education in the United States will provide a detailed case study, though other applications may be considered from time to time. Course involves an empirical project.

Prerequisite: Economics 1 and Economics 10

Distributive: SOC

Economics 39: International Trade

This course deals with the causes and consequences of international trade and factor movements. Topics covered include theories of why nations trade, the consequences of trade for economic welfare and the distribution of income, the determinants of trade patterns, the tariff and other forms of commercial policy, trade policies of selected countries, and the formation of the multinational corporation.

Prerequisite: Economics 1

Distributive: SOC or INT

Economics 41: Health Economics and Policy

The goals of the course are: 1) to understand the economic forces that have created the current challenges in US healthcare; 2) to develop skills that enable you to determine what types of information, data, and analyses are needed to analyze the economics of health policies designed to expand coverage, improve quality, and contain costs; and 3) through in-class exercises and a project, to perform and present economic analysis of current topics relevant for state and federal health system reform.

Prerequisites: Economics 1 and Economics 10

Economics 57: Data Analysis for Economic Policy - Economics of Career and Family

This course examines the changing significance, timing, and meaning of career, family, and marriage, with special emphasis on the economic role of women and on determinants of gender gaps. For example, the gap between men's and women's earnings exists across the income distribution and the education distribution. But the gap is generally far greater for higher earners and for those with more education. Why? How do these gaps arise and what might reduce or eliminate them? Topics include the role of time controllability and compensating differentials; discrimination in pay in a host of circumstances; women's bargaining skills; feedback mechanisms between household's decisions and the labor market; children; parental leave policy; firm-level policies; childcare policies.

Prerequisites: Economics 1, Economics 20, and Economics 21

Distributive: SOC


This seminar course will involve an in depth examination of selected topics that are of significance to the macro economy and economic growth. Topics will vary from year to year.  It will examine developments in the United States and other advanced and developing economies.  It will build on work done in Intermediate Macro (Economics 22) and Monetary Policy and the Economy (Economics 32) as well as the Financial Crisis (Economics 76).  It focuses especially on issues and trends in the macro-economy and movements in the business cycle that develop over time.  It is also possible to take an historical perspective on past macroeconomic developments including the Great Recession.  Will require writing a major paper. ​

Prerequisites:  Economics 20, 21, 22 and 32​
Prerequisites beginning with class of '25: Economics 20, 21, 22, 29 and 32

Distributive: SOC or INT

Economics 64: Topics in Development Economics

This seminar considers microeconomic aspects of the causes and consequences of extreme poverty in the developing world. Recent research on topics such child labor, credit, education, environmental degradation, fertility, gender discrimination, health, HIV/AIDs, insurance, malnutrition, social capital, and technology adoption will be considered in depth. Topics vary from year to year. Students are required to write a major research paper.

Prerequisites: Economics 20, 21, 22 and 24
Prerequisites beginning with class of '25:  Economics 20, 21, 22, 24 (27 or 39)

Distributive: SOC or INT, WCult: NW

Economics 65: Topics in Industrial Organization

This course examines selected topics in business strategy and public policies designed to facilitate competition. These topics include market power, price discrimination, entry, product differentiation, vertical integration, regulation, and anti-trust. Students will discuss a broad range of papers on empirical industrial organization, apply concepts in a competitive strategy game, and write a major paper.

Prerequisites: Economics 20, 21, 22 and 25 
Prerequisites beginning with class of '25:  Economics 20, 21, 22, 25, 35

Distributive: SOC

Economics 66: Topics in Money and Finance

A seminar course covering in depth such selected topics as the following: the theory of financial institutions; banking panics; the excess variability of asset prices; finance constraints and capital market imperfections; the theory of monetary policy; inflation and financial markets; debt and deficits. Will require writing a major paper.

Prerequisites: Economics 20, 21, 22, 26 and 36

Distributive: SOC

Economics 67: Topics in Labor Economics

This seminar provides an in-depth examination of selected topics in labor economics, with an emphasis on recent empirical studies. Topics will vary from year to year. In past years topics have included aspects of human capital investments; differential effects on earnings of not only race and gender, but also such things as height and beauty; earnings determinants, including studies of CEO compensation, the use of tournaments as a pay scheme and compensating differentials; real effects of union conflict and workplace cooperation; and historical changes in skill-levels and earnings in the finance industry; and other topics related to labor market policies and wage determination. Will require writing a major paper.

Prerequisites: Economics 20, 21, 22 and 27
Prerequisites beginning with class of '25:  Economics 20, 21, 22, 27, (24 or 28 or 37)

Distributive: SOC

Economics 68: Topics in Public Economics

This seminar explores pressing public policy issues using the theoretical and empirical tools of public economics. The course begins with a review of research design and relevant econometric techniques. We then move on to in-depth explorations in selected topic areas, with a focus on the U.S. Topics vary from year to year but have recently included public goods and externalities; finance, accountability, and choice in K-12 education; behavioral and external effects of the cash and near-cash social safety net or of tax policy; and moral hazard and welfare impacts of social insurance. Will require writing a major empirical paper.

Prerequisite: Economics 20, 21, 22 and 28
Prerequisites beginning with class of '25:  Economics 20, 21, 22, 28, 38

Distributive: SOC

Economics 69: Topics in International Economics

This seminar will cover selected topics in international trade and finance beyond those covered in Economics 29 and 39. Offerings in the next few years are expected to include current research on (1) financial crises in emerging markets, (2) the role of trade, open capital markets, and financial development on growth in developing countries, (3) the determinants and consequences of foreign direct investment, (4) the impact of the multilateral trade agreements on world trade, and (5) issues related to globalization. Will require writing a major paper.

Prerequisites: Economics 20, 21, 22, 29 and 39

Distributive: SOC or INT

Economics 70: Immersion Experience in Applied Economics and Policy

In Economics 70 students study a specific topic in applied economics or policy, first in the classroom and then, after the end of the exam period, in a two-week immersion experience off-campus. Specific topics and destinations for the off-campus component vary by year and the section taught. Enrollment is by application to the professor teaching the course. Prior sections included: Professor Curtis with The Transition of Poland to a Market Economy, Professor Comin with Human Development in Peru and China: The Country, The Companies and the People, Professor Irwin with Economic Policy and Reform in Argentina and Chile, Professor Sacerdote with Frauds, Panics, Crashes, and Bank Runs.

Economics 72: Fed Challenge

Not currently offered. The College Fed Challenge is intended to help students become more knowledgeable about the Fed and the decision-making process of the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC), the Federal Reserve's monetary policy-setting group. The cap for the class is 10 students by instructor permission (5 of the 10 will be chosen to go to the competition).

Prerequisite: Economics 1 and 22
For details on how to enroll see: Fed Challenge 

Economics 76: Pandemics and Financial Crises

Topics covered will include (but are not limited to) : recent developments in financial and equity markets, labor markets and housing markets during  pandemics and financial crises; bubbles, black swans, financial contagion and herds; bank failure, TARP, TALF, TSLF and equivalents. Monetary and fiscal policy responses including quantitative easing will be examined. Direct comparisons will be drawn with the Great Depression and other financial crises.

Prerequisite: Economics 1 and 10

Distributive: INT or SOC

Economics 77: Social Entrepreneurship

This course provides an introduction to the theory and practice of social entrepreneurship, defined as the process of finding innovative, sustainable solutions to social problems, particularly those related to poverty.  Students will learn about the nature and causes of poverty, both domestically and internationally, and about the role that social entrepreneurs play in addressing poverty.  The course culminates with teams of students developing business models for their own social entrepreneurship ventures. 

Prerequisite: Economics 1 Cross listed with PBPL 43

Distributive:  SOC, WCult:  W

Economics 80: Advanced Topics in Econometrics

This course has two goals: (1) To further develop techniques that test for and remedy common problems associated with linear and non-linear regression analysis; (2) to develop a practical understanding of how regression analysis can be used to examine the empirical relevance of economic theory.

Prerequisites: Economics 20, 21 and 22 with a grade of A- or better, with no recorded W from any of these classes

Distributive: SOC

Economics 81: Advanced Topics in Microeconomics

This is an advanced course on the economics of information. The focus of the course is a rigorous mathematical treatment of the value of information, moral hazard, learning, adverse selection, and signaling. Applications to labor markets, corporate governance, financial markets, and insurance will be discussed.

Prerequisites: Economics 20, 21 and 22 with a grade of A- or better, with no recorded W from any of these classes

Distributive: SOC

Economics 82: Advanced Topics in Macroeconomics

The purpose of this course is to study in depth selected topics in Macroeconomics. Topics will include consumption, savings and investment; dynamic inconsistency and the design of monetary and fiscal policies, multiple equilibria, bubbles and cycles, and economic growth.

Prerequisites: Economics 20, 21 and 22 with a grade of A- or better, with no recorded W from any of these classes

Dist: SOC

Economics 85: Independent Study in Economics

This course is required of all majors in the Honors program who do not initiate their honors work in their 40-level course; they will be expected to do the preliminary work on their honors theses in this course. This course offers an opportunity for a student to do independent work under the direction of a member of the Department. For students who take this course in order to engage in independent study of a topic of interest rather than as a part of honors work, the prerequisite background will consist of all the regularly offered courses in the chosen field of study. Such a student will normally be expected to prepare, prior to the taking of Economics 85, a prospectus and a list of readings pertaining to the study he or she wishes to pursue.

Prerequisites: Permission of the Vice Chair and of the Department faculty member who will be advising the student

Economics 87: Senior Thesis

As explained under the Economics Honors Program, selected students will be invited to enroll in Economics 87 after they have completed their 60-level course. Alternatively, a student can initiate honors work in Economics 85 and then enroll in Economics 87 with the approval of the student's adviser and the Vice Chair. Honors students will normally take Economics 87 in the term following their enrollment in Economics 85, or alternatively, following their enrollment in a 60-level course in which a thesis has been started. Other majors who wish to write a non-Honors thesis for single course credit will be required to have as prerequisite background all regularly offered courses in the chosen field of study and may take the course in either the first or second terms of the senior year.

ECON 87.01 Senior Thesis in a Collaborative Setting- Offered in the Spring

Most economics students that write an honors thesis start their idea for an honors thesis topic based on independent research project completed in an Economics culminating experience seminar (any 60-level course) or the honors courses (any 80-level course).  This course is meant to provide assistance in completing an honors thesis in economics that goes well beyond just advice from a single advisor. Completing an honors thesis in a collaborative setting will involve tasks such as presenting your work at multiple stages, as well as contributing to your peers' success by providing constructive feedback.