Introduction

Introduction

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Economics

Professors Barbezat (Chair), Honig, Kingston, Reyes and Sims; Associate Professors Baisa and Ishii*; Assistant Professors Blackwood*, Debnam Guzman*, Gebresilasse, Hyman*, Theoharides, and White*; Visiting Assistant Professors Khan and Porter; Visiting Lecturer Georgiou.

*On leave 2021-22

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

In its simplest form, the economics major consists of a total of nine full-semester courses in economics. These courses include: (1) An Introduction to Economics (111/111E); (2) Three core theory courses in Microeconomics (300 or 301), Macroeconomics (330 or 331), and Econometrics (360 or 361); (3) At least five other courses in economics, usually electives numbered 200-290 or 400-490, at least one of which is numbered 400-490.

The following sections clarify the details of these requirements.

Declaring an Economics Major. It is recommended that students take several economics courses prior to adding the economics major. Students must attain a grade of B or better in ECON 111/111E or a grade of B- or better in an economics elective (numbered 200-290) before being allowed to add the economics major. Major declarations should occur by the end of sophomore year, or by the end of junior year at the latest. Major declarations may not be made in the senior year, except by petition in exceptional circumstances. To be considered for an exception to this rule, students must write to the department chair explaining the circumstances of the late declaration.

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

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

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

Departmental Honors Program. The economics department strongly encourages our majors to consider doing a senior honors thesis in economics. To be eligible to enter the honors program, a senior (or second-semester junior in an E Class) must satisfy several requirements. First, the student must have already completed Microeconomic Theory (ECON 300 or 301), Macroeconomic Theory (ECON 330 or 331) and Econometrics (ECON 360 or 361) with an average grade of 11.00 or higher. (For reference, conversion equivalents are A = 13, A- = 12, B+ = 11, B = 10, etc.) No exceptions to this rule will be allowed. Normally, all of these core courses must be taken at Amherst (see above re exceptional circumstances). Therefore, a student considering writing a thesis and intending to study abroad should plan their course of study carefully, in consultation with economics faculty. Second, to be eligible to enter the honors program, a student must also have already completed one upper-level elective numbered 400 to 490. One possible exception is for students who have studied abroad for their entire junior year and have, in that time, taken a rigorous upper-level economics course that is approved by the department as a substitute. Third, those students in the honors program must take at least two upper-level electives numbered 400 to 490 (rather than just one) during their time at Amherst. We strongly encourage students to take these earlier rather than later, as they provide wonderful opportunities to develop one’s thinking about possible honors research topics. Lastly, we recommend that students who intend to enter the honors program take the advanced core theory courses, gain some experience doing economic research, and talk to faculty about economic research.

All honors students enroll in ECON 498, the Senior Departmental Honors Seminar, in the fall semester of their senior year. Within ECON 498, however, there are two alternative paths. Most students will enroll in Section 1, a seminar/workshop that supports students in undertaking independent research for their honors projects. This will be supplemented by work with a preliminary faculty advisor. Students who have already formulated a strong research plan in consultation with a faculty member, usually by developing their ideas in a 400-level economics course, can enroll in Section 2, 3... (the section number depends on the faculty advisor). These students will work closely with a faculty advisor from the beginning of the fall semester to further develop their thesis. In addition, they may participate in aspects of Section 1 such as group presentations. All students, regardless of section, will be expected to submit and present to the department a final thesis proposal at the end of the fall semester.

In the spring semester, all students complete their honors essay under the guidance of an individual faculty advisor by enrolling in ECON 499. At the end of the spring semester, all students will submit their written honors essay to the department for evaluation and will make an oral presentation to the department discussing their work.

Both ECON 498 and 499 can both be counted towards the major total course requirement (ten courses for honors students). Successful completion of ECON 498 and 499 will serve to satisfy the comprehensive exam requirement in economics for honors students. We encourage all students to discuss the possibility of honors work with their advisor and any faculty members in economics.

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

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

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

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

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

In response to the COVID-19 situation, current senior majors who were full-time students in both Fall and Spring of 2020-2021 can graduate with one fewer economics course, for a total of 8 economics courses for non-thesis writers and 9 for thesis writers. All majors will still be required to take the core economics courses (Microeconomic Theory, Macroeconomic Theory, and Econometrics) and all majors still must take at least one 400 level course, and thesis students are still required to take at least two 400 level courses.

111 An Introduction to Economics

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

Requisite for all other courses in Economics.

Fall and spring semesters: 25 students per discussion section. The Department.

2021-22: Offered in Fall 2021, Spring 2022
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Spring 2008, Fall 2008, Spring 2009, Fall 2009, Spring 2010, Fall 2010, Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Fall 2022, Spring 2023

111E An Introduction to Economics with Environmental Applications

(Offered as ECON 111E and ENST 230) A study of the central problem of scarcity and of the ways in which micro and macro economic systems allocate scarce resources among competing ends and apportion goods produced among people. Covers the same material as ECON 111 but with special attention to the relationship between economic activity and environmental problems and to the application of micro and macroeconomic theory tools to analyze environmental issues. A student may not receive credit for both ECON 111 and ECON 111E. Two 80-minute and one 50-minute lecture/discussions per week.

Admission with consent of the instructor. Limited to 30 Amherst College students. Fall and spring semesters. Professor Sims. 

2021-22: Offered in Fall 2021, Spring 2022
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Spring 2008, Fall 2008, Spring 2009, Fall 2009, Spring 2010, Fall 2010, Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Fall 2022, Spring 2023

207 Economics and Psychology

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 25 students. Professor Debnam Guzman. Omitted 2021-22.

2021-22: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Spring 2021, Spring 2023

210 Environmental and Natural Resource Economics

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 from an economic standpoint.

Requisite: ECON 111 or 111E. Limited to 30 students. Professor Sims. 

2021-22: Offered in Fall 2021
Other years: Offered in Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2011, Fall 2012, Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Spring 2016, Spring 2019, Fall 2021

211 AntiRacist AntiEconomics

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 22 students. Spring semester. Professor Reyes.

2021-22: Offered in Spring 2022
Other years: Offered in Spring 2023

212 Public Economics: Environment, Health, and Inequality

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. Spring semester. Professor Reyes.

2021-22: Offered in Spring 2022
Other years: Offered in Fall 2019, Spring 2021

214 Health Economics and Policy

Health care poses many pressing questions: Why do we spend so much on health care? Does this spending actually produce better health? How do health care institutions function? What is the appropriate role of government? How are we to judge the efficiency and equity of health care policy? By applying economic analysis to health, health care, and health care markets, health economics provides insight into these questions. In the first section of this course, we will assess the role of health care in the economy and apply economic models to the production of health and health care. In the second section of the course, we will study the structure of health care markets and the roles of key institutions. In the third section of the course, we will investigate the role of government and use our acquired knowledge to understand and evaluate health care policy and reform. Throughout this analysis, we will pay careful attention to the nature of health care markets, the anatomy of market failures, and the implications for public policy. Empirical results, current issues, and public policies will be discussed throughout the course. In addition to 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. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Reyes.

2021-22: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2017, Spring 2019, Fall 2020

218 The Economics of Inequality in the United States

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. Professor Hyman. Omitted 2021-22.

2021-22: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2019, Spring 2021, Fall 2022

220 Public Choice

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.

January-term courses will be offered remotely.

Requisite: ECON 111 or equivalent. Limited to 30 students. January term. Professor Kingston.

2021-22: Offered in January 2022, Spring 2022
Other years: Offered in Spring 2020, January 2021, January 2022, Spring 2023

223 The Economics of Migration

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

Requisite: ECON 111/111E or equivalent. Limited to 30 students. Fall semester. Professor Theoharides.

2021-22: Offered in Fall 2021
Other years: Offered in Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2019, Fall 2021

224 Introduction to Economic Networks

The modern era has seen an explosive growth in the interconnectedness of individuals and groups. From social networks facilitating the decentralized exchange of enormous amounts of information to the increasingly complex patterns of loans among financial institutions, the ties that connect agents are an important factor to consider for nearly any policy maker. Networks, collections of objects which are connected by links, have become increasingly prevalent in modern economic research due, in part, to their ability to bridge microeconomic behavior and aggregate patterns in a population. A departure from more traditional applications of networks as modeling physical systems to a more abstract framework capturing the relationships between autonomous agents adds a layer of complexity to the analysis that is well-suited for tools from economics, and in particular game theory. Broadly speaking, this course will explore how the structure of connections between individuals affects, and is affected by, the economic incentives of those individuals. We will begin with an introduction to graphs, and then turn to specific applications of networks within economics. We will discuss networked markets featuring intermediaries between buyers and sellers, the structure of information networks and internet economics, applications to sponsored search, centrality measures for influence, and end with models of cascades and innovation in networks and how the structure of a network affects the likelihood of a cascade.

Requisite: ECON 111/111E or equivalent. Limited to 35 students. Fall and Spring semesters. Professor Porter.

2021-22: Offered in Fall 2021, Spring 2022
Other years: Offered in Fall 2021, Fall 2022, Spring 2023

225 Industrial Organization

This course examines the determinants of and linkages between market structure, firm conduct, and industrial performance. Some of the questions that will be addressed include: Why do some markets have many sellers while others have only 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. Professor Ishii. Omitted 2021-22.

2021-22: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Spring 2011, Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2016, Spring 2018, Spring 2019, Spring 2020, Spring 2021, Spring 2023

237 Financial Globalization, Growth and Crises

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

Requisite: ECON 111/111E. Limited to 30 students. Not available to students who have taken ECON 435. Fall semester. Professor Honig.

2021-22: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2010, Fall 2010, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Spring 2016, Spring 2020, Fall 2020

250 Money, Banking, and Economic Activity

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 25 students. Fall and spring semesters. Professor Khan. 

2021-22: Offered in Fall 2021, Spring 2022
Other years: Offered in Fall 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Fall 2022

262 Development Economics

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. Spring semester. Professor Gebresilasse.

2021-22: Offered in Spring 2022
Other years: Offered in Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Fall 2022

275 Consumption and the Pursuit of Happiness

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. Spring semester. Professor Barbezat.

2021-22: Offered in Spring 2022
Other years: Offered in Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2011, Spring 2015

290, 390, 490, 490H Special Topics

Independent reading course. Full course.

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

2021-22: Offered in Fall 2021, Spring 2022
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Fall 2022, Spring 2023

300 Microeconomics

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

Requisite: MATH 111, or equivalent and at least a "B" grade in ECON 111/111E or a "B-" in ECON 200–290, or equivalent.

Fall semester: Limited to 50 students. Professor Baisa

Spring semester: Limited to 50 students. Professor Kingston.

2021-22: Offered in Fall 2021, Spring 2022
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Spring 2008, Fall 2008, Spring 2009, Fall 2009, Spring 2010, Fall 2010, Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Fall 2022, Spring 2023

301 Advanced Microeconomics

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

Requisite: At least a "B" grade in ECON 111/111E or a "B-" grade in ECON 200–290, or equivalent, and MATH 211 or equivalent, or consent of the instructor. Limited to 20 students. Fall semester. Professor Baisa.

2021-22: Offered in Fall 2021
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2019, Fall 2020, Fall 2021, Spring 2023

330 Macroeconomics

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

Requisite: Math 111 or equivalent and at least a "B" grade in ECON 111/111E or a "B-" in ECON 200–290, or equivalent. 

Fall semester: Limited to 50 students. Professor Barbezat.

Spring semester: Limited to 50 students. Professor Honig.

2021-22: Offered in Fall 2021, Spring 2022
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Spring 2008, Fall 2008, Spring 2009, Fall 2009, Spring 2010, Fall 2010, Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Fall 2022, Spring 2023

331 Advanced Macroeconomics

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

Requisite: At least a "B" grade in ECON 111/111E or a "B-" grade in ECON 200–290, or equivalent, and MATH 121 or equivalent, or consent of the instructor. Limited to 20 students. Spring semester. Professor Honig.

2021-22: Offered in Spring 2022
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2011, Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Spring 2016, Spring 2017, Spring 2018, Spring 2019, Spring 2020, Spring 2021, Spring 2023

360 Econometrics

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

Requisite: MATH 111, or equivalent and at least a "B" grade in ECON 111/111E or a "B-" in ECON 200–290, or equivalent. Fall and spring semesters.

Fall semester: Two sections limited to 25 students each. Professor Gebresilasse.

Spring semester: One section limited to 50 students. Professor Theoharides. 

 

2021-22: Offered in Fall 2021, Spring 2022
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Spring 2008, Fall 2008, Spring 2009, Fall 2009, Spring 2010, Fall 2010, Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Fall 2022, Spring 2023

361 Advanced Econometrics

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

Requisite: At least a "B" grade in ECON 111/111E or a "B-" grade in ECON 200–290, or equivalent, and MATH 211 or equivalent, and STAT 111 or STAT 135 or equivalent. Limited to 20 students. Professor Ishii. Omitted 2021-22.

2021-22: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2008, Spring 2010, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Spring 2014, Fall 2015, Spring 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2019, Fall 2020, Fall 2022

407 Advanced Behavioral Economics

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 2021-22.

2021-22: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Spring 2023

410 Environment and Development

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. Spring semester. Professor Sims.

2021-22: Offered in Spring 2022

414 Urban Economics

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. Professor Ishii. Omitted 2021-22.

2021-22: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2016, Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Spring 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2022

416 Economics of Race and Gender

(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) and ECON 360/361 (Econometrics) or Consent of Instructor. Limited to 15 students. Fall semester. Professor Reyes. 

2021-22: Offered in Fall 2021
Other years: Offered in Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Fall 2022

419 Education and Inequality in the United States

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. Professor Hyman. Omitted 2021-22.

2021-22: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Spring 2023

420 Game Theory and Applications

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

Requisite: ECON 300 or 301 or consent of the instructor. Limited to 30 students. Fall semester. Professor Kingston.

2021-22: Offered in Fall 2021
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2019, Fall 2020, Fall 2021, Fall 2022

421 Education and Human Capital in Developing Economies

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 and spring semesters. Professor Theoharides.

2021-22: Offered in Spring 2022
Other years: Offered in Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Spring 2021

435 Topics in Open-Economy Macroeconomics

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

Requisite: ECON 330/331, or ECON 235/237 with consent of the instructor. Limited to 30 students. Fall semester. Professor Honig.

2021-22: Offered in Fall 2021
Other years: Offered in Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2019, Spring 2021, Fall 2021

453 Economics of Entrepreneurship

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. Professor Blackwood. Omitted 2021-22.

2021-22: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, January 2021, Fall 2022

470 Mechanism Design

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

Requisite: ECON 301 or 420, MATH 211. Limited to 15 students. Spring semester. Professor Baisa. 

2021-22: Offered in Spring 2022
Other years: Offered in Spring 2015, Spring 2018, Spring 2019

471 Economic History Seminar

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 2021-22.

2021-22: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2008, Spring 2010, Fall 2012, Fall 2014, Spring 2023

472 Economic Distribution and Growth from the Neolithic to the Modern Age

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. Spring semester. Professor Barbezat.

2021-22: Offered in Spring 2022
Other years: Offered in Spring 2021

479 Institutions and Governance

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

Requisite: ECON 420 or consent of the instructor. Limited to 15 students. Professor Kingston. Omitted 2021-22.

2021-22: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Spring 2011, Spring 2016, Spring 2018, Spring 2020, Spring 2023

498 Senior Departmental Honors Seminar

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 Reyes.

2021-22: Offered in Fall 2021, Spring 2022
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2019, Fall 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Fall 2022

499 Senior Departmental Honors Project

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

Requisite: ECON 498. Spring semester. The Department.

2021-22: Offered in Fall 2021, Spring 2022
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2011, Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Spring 2016, Spring 2017, Spring 2018, Spring 2019, Spring 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Spring 2023

About Amherst College

About Amherst College

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Economics

Professors Barbezat (Chair), Honig, Kingston, Reyes and Sims; Associate Professors Baisa and Ishii*; Assistant Professors Blackwood*, Debnam Guzman*, Gebresilasse, Hyman*, Theoharides, and White*; Visiting Assistant Professors Khan and Porter; Visiting Lecturer Georgiou.

*On leave 2021-22

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

In its simplest form, the economics major consists of a total of nine full-semester courses in economics. These courses include: (1) An Introduction to Economics (111/111E); (2) Three core theory courses in Microeconomics (300 or 301), Macroeconomics (330 or 331), and Econometrics (360 or 361); (3) At least five other courses in economics, usually electives numbered 200-290 or 400-490, at least one of which is numbered 400-490.

The following sections clarify the details of these requirements.

Declaring an Economics Major. It is recommended that students take several economics courses prior to adding the economics major. Students must attain a grade of B or better in ECON 111/111E or a grade of B- or better in an economics elective (numbered 200-290) before being allowed to add the economics major. Major declarations should occur by the end of sophomore year, or by the end of junior year at the latest. Major declarations may not be made in the senior year, except by petition in exceptional circumstances. To be considered for an exception to this rule, students must write to the department chair explaining the circumstances of the late declaration.

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

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

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

Departmental Honors Program. The economics department strongly encourages our majors to consider doing a senior honors thesis in economics. To be eligible to enter the honors program, a senior (or second-semester junior in an E Class) must satisfy several requirements. First, the student must have already completed Microeconomic Theory (ECON 300 or 301), Macroeconomic Theory (ECON 330 or 331) and Econometrics (ECON 360 or 361) with an average grade of 11.00 or higher. (For reference, conversion equivalents are A = 13, A- = 12, B+ = 11, B = 10, etc.) No exceptions to this rule will be allowed. Normally, all of these core courses must be taken at Amherst (see above re exceptional circumstances). Therefore, a student considering writing a thesis and intending to study abroad should plan their course of study carefully, in consultation with economics faculty. Second, to be eligible to enter the honors program, a student must also have already completed one upper-level elective numbered 400 to 490. One possible exception is for students who have studied abroad for their entire junior year and have, in that time, taken a rigorous upper-level economics course that is approved by the department as a substitute. Third, those students in the honors program must take at least two upper-level electives numbered 400 to 490 (rather than just one) during their time at Amherst. We strongly encourage students to take these earlier rather than later, as they provide wonderful opportunities to develop one’s thinking about possible honors research topics. Lastly, we recommend that students who intend to enter the honors program take the advanced core theory courses, gain some experience doing economic research, and talk to faculty about economic research.

All honors students enroll in ECON 498, the Senior Departmental Honors Seminar, in the fall semester of their senior year. Within ECON 498, however, there are two alternative paths. Most students will enroll in Section 1, a seminar/workshop that supports students in undertaking independent research for their honors projects. This will be supplemented by work with a preliminary faculty advisor. Students who have already formulated a strong research plan in consultation with a faculty member, usually by developing their ideas in a 400-level economics course, can enroll in Section 2, 3... (the section number depends on the faculty advisor). These students will work closely with a faculty advisor from the beginning of the fall semester to further develop their thesis. In addition, they may participate in aspects of Section 1 such as group presentations. All students, regardless of section, will be expected to submit and present to the department a final thesis proposal at the end of the fall semester.

In the spring semester, all students complete their honors essay under the guidance of an individual faculty advisor by enrolling in ECON 499. At the end of the spring semester, all students will submit their written honors essay to the department for evaluation and will make an oral presentation to the department discussing their work.

Both ECON 498 and 499 can both be counted towards the major total course requirement (ten courses for honors students). Successful completion of ECON 498 and 499 will serve to satisfy the comprehensive exam requirement in economics for honors students. We encourage all students to discuss the possibility of honors work with their advisor and any faculty members in economics.

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

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

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

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

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

In response to the COVID-19 situation, current senior majors who were full-time students in both Fall and Spring of 2020-2021 can graduate with one fewer economics course, for a total of 8 economics courses for non-thesis writers and 9 for thesis writers. All majors will still be required to take the core economics courses (Microeconomic Theory, Macroeconomic Theory, and Econometrics) and all majors still must take at least one 400 level course, and thesis students are still required to take at least two 400 level courses.

111 An Introduction to Economics

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

Requisite for all other courses in Economics.

Fall and spring semesters: 25 students per discussion section. The Department.

2021-22: Offered in Fall 2021, Spring 2022
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Spring 2008, Fall 2008, Spring 2009, Fall 2009, Spring 2010, Fall 2010, Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Fall 2022, Spring 2023

111E An Introduction to Economics with Environmental Applications

(Offered as ECON 111E and ENST 230) A study of the central problem of scarcity and of the ways in which micro and macro economic systems allocate scarce resources among competing ends and apportion goods produced among people. Covers the same material as ECON 111 but with special attention to the relationship between economic activity and environmental problems and to the application of micro and macroeconomic theory tools to analyze environmental issues. A student may not receive credit for both ECON 111 and ECON 111E. Two 80-minute and one 50-minute lecture/discussions per week.

Admission with consent of the instructor. Limited to 30 Amherst College students. Fall and spring semesters. Professor Sims. 

2021-22: Offered in Fall 2021, Spring 2022
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Spring 2008, Fall 2008, Spring 2009, Fall 2009, Spring 2010, Fall 2010, Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Fall 2022, Spring 2023

207 Economics and Psychology

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 25 students. Professor Debnam Guzman. Omitted 2021-22.

2021-22: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Spring 2021, Spring 2023

210 Environmental and Natural Resource Economics

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 from an economic standpoint.

Requisite: ECON 111 or 111E. Limited to 30 students. Professor Sims. 

2021-22: Offered in Fall 2021
Other years: Offered in Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2011, Fall 2012, Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Spring 2016, Spring 2019, Fall 2021

211 AntiRacist AntiEconomics

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 22 students. Spring semester. Professor Reyes.

2021-22: Offered in Spring 2022
Other years: Offered in Spring 2023

212 Public Economics: Environment, Health, and Inequality

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. Spring semester. Professor Reyes.

2021-22: Offered in Spring 2022
Other years: Offered in Fall 2019, Spring 2021

214 Health Economics and Policy

Health care poses many pressing questions: Why do we spend so much on health care? Does this spending actually produce better health? How do health care institutions function? What is the appropriate role of government? How are we to judge the efficiency and equity of health care policy? By applying economic analysis to health, health care, and health care markets, health economics provides insight into these questions. In the first section of this course, we will assess the role of health care in the economy and apply economic models to the production of health and health care. In the second section of the course, we will study the structure of health care markets and the roles of key institutions. In the third section of the course, we will investigate the role of government and use our acquired knowledge to understand and evaluate health care policy and reform. Throughout this analysis, we will pay careful attention to the nature of health care markets, the anatomy of market failures, and the implications for public policy. Empirical results, current issues, and public policies will be discussed throughout the course. In addition to 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. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Reyes.

2021-22: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2017, Spring 2019, Fall 2020

218 The Economics of Inequality in the United States

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. Professor Hyman. Omitted 2021-22.

2021-22: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2019, Spring 2021, Fall 2022

220 Public Choice

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.

January-term courses will be offered remotely.

Requisite: ECON 111 or equivalent. Limited to 30 students. January term. Professor Kingston.

2021-22: Offered in January 2022, Spring 2022
Other years: Offered in Spring 2020, January 2021, January 2022, Spring 2023

223 The Economics of Migration

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

Requisite: ECON 111/111E or equivalent. Limited to 30 students. Fall semester. Professor Theoharides.

2021-22: Offered in Fall 2021
Other years: Offered in Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2019, Fall 2021

224 Introduction to Economic Networks

The modern era has seen an explosive growth in the interconnectedness of individuals and groups. From social networks facilitating the decentralized exchange of enormous amounts of information to the increasingly complex patterns of loans among financial institutions, the ties that connect agents are an important factor to consider for nearly any policy maker. Networks, collections of objects which are connected by links, have become increasingly prevalent in modern economic research due, in part, to their ability to bridge microeconomic behavior and aggregate patterns in a population. A departure from more traditional applications of networks as modeling physical systems to a more abstract framework capturing the relationships between autonomous agents adds a layer of complexity to the analysis that is well-suited for tools from economics, and in particular game theory. Broadly speaking, this course will explore how the structure of connections between individuals affects, and is affected by, the economic incentives of those individuals. We will begin with an introduction to graphs, and then turn to specific applications of networks within economics. We will discuss networked markets featuring intermediaries between buyers and sellers, the structure of information networks and internet economics, applications to sponsored search, centrality measures for influence, and end with models of cascades and innovation in networks and how the structure of a network affects the likelihood of a cascade.

Requisite: ECON 111/111E or equivalent. Limited to 35 students. Fall and Spring semesters. Professor Porter.

2021-22: Offered in Fall 2021, Spring 2022
Other years: Offered in Fall 2021, Fall 2022, Spring 2023

225 Industrial Organization

This course examines the determinants of and linkages between market structure, firm conduct, and industrial performance. Some of the questions that will be addressed include: Why do some markets have many sellers while others have only 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. Professor Ishii. Omitted 2021-22.

2021-22: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Spring 2011, Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2016, Spring 2018, Spring 2019, Spring 2020, Spring 2021, Spring 2023

237 Financial Globalization, Growth and Crises

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

Requisite: ECON 111/111E. Limited to 30 students. Not available to students who have taken ECON 435. Fall semester. Professor Honig.

2021-22: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2010, Fall 2010, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Spring 2016, Spring 2020, Fall 2020

250 Money, Banking, and Economic Activity

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 25 students. Fall and spring semesters. Professor Khan. 

2021-22: Offered in Fall 2021, Spring 2022
Other years: Offered in Fall 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Fall 2022

262 Development Economics

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. Spring semester. Professor Gebresilasse.

2021-22: Offered in Spring 2022
Other years: Offered in Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Fall 2022

275 Consumption and the Pursuit of Happiness

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. Spring semester. Professor Barbezat.

2021-22: Offered in Spring 2022
Other years: Offered in Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2011, Spring 2015

290, 390, 490, 490H Special Topics

Independent reading course. Full course.

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

2021-22: Offered in Fall 2021, Spring 2022
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Fall 2022, Spring 2023

300 Microeconomics

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

Requisite: MATH 111, or equivalent and at least a "B" grade in ECON 111/111E or a "B-" in ECON 200–290, or equivalent.

Fall semester: Limited to 50 students. Professor Baisa

Spring semester: Limited to 50 students. Professor Kingston.

2021-22: Offered in Fall 2021, Spring 2022
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Spring 2008, Fall 2008, Spring 2009, Fall 2009, Spring 2010, Fall 2010, Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Fall 2022, Spring 2023

301 Advanced Microeconomics

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

Requisite: At least a "B" grade in ECON 111/111E or a "B-" grade in ECON 200–290, or equivalent, and MATH 211 or equivalent, or consent of the instructor. Limited to 20 students. Fall semester. Professor Baisa.

2021-22: Offered in Fall 2021
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2019, Fall 2020, Fall 2021, Spring 2023

330 Macroeconomics

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

Requisite: Math 111 or equivalent and at least a "B" grade in ECON 111/111E or a "B-" in ECON 200–290, or equivalent. 

Fall semester: Limited to 50 students. Professor Barbezat.

Spring semester: Limited to 50 students. Professor Honig.

2021-22: Offered in Fall 2021, Spring 2022
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Spring 2008, Fall 2008, Spring 2009, Fall 2009, Spring 2010, Fall 2010, Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Fall 2022, Spring 2023

331 Advanced Macroeconomics

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

Requisite: At least a "B" grade in ECON 111/111E or a "B-" grade in ECON 200–290, or equivalent, and MATH 121 or equivalent, or consent of the instructor. Limited to 20 students. Spring semester. Professor Honig.

2021-22: Offered in Spring 2022
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2011, Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Spring 2016, Spring 2017, Spring 2018, Spring 2019, Spring 2020, Spring 2021, Spring 2023

360 Econometrics

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

Requisite: MATH 111, or equivalent and at least a "B" grade in ECON 111/111E or a "B-" in ECON 200–290, or equivalent. Fall and spring semesters.

Fall semester: Two sections limited to 25 students each. Professor Gebresilasse.

Spring semester: One section limited to 50 students. Professor Theoharides. 

 

2021-22: Offered in Fall 2021, Spring 2022
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Spring 2008, Fall 2008, Spring 2009, Fall 2009, Spring 2010, Fall 2010, Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Fall 2022, Spring 2023

361 Advanced Econometrics

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

Requisite: At least a "B" grade in ECON 111/111E or a "B-" grade in ECON 200–290, or equivalent, and MATH 211 or equivalent, and STAT 111 or STAT 135 or equivalent. Limited to 20 students. Professor Ishii. Omitted 2021-22.

2021-22: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2008, Spring 2010, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Spring 2014, Fall 2015, Spring 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2019, Fall 2020, Fall 2022

407 Advanced Behavioral Economics

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 2021-22.

2021-22: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Spring 2023

410 Environment and Development

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. Spring semester. Professor Sims.

2021-22: Offered in Spring 2022

414 Urban Economics

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. Professor Ishii. Omitted 2021-22.

2021-22: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2016, Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Spring 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2022

416 Economics of Race and Gender

(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) and ECON 360/361 (Econometrics) or Consent of Instructor. Limited to 15 students. Fall semester. Professor Reyes. 

2021-22: Offered in Fall 2021
Other years: Offered in Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Fall 2022

419 Education and Inequality in the United States

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. Professor Hyman. Omitted 2021-22.

2021-22: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Spring 2023

420 Game Theory and Applications

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

Requisite: ECON 300 or 301 or consent of the instructor. Limited to 30 students. Fall semester. Professor Kingston.

2021-22: Offered in Fall 2021
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2019, Fall 2020, Fall 2021, Fall 2022

421 Education and Human Capital in Developing Economies

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 and spring semesters. Professor Theoharides.

2021-22: Offered in Spring 2022
Other years: Offered in Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Spring 2021

435 Topics in Open-Economy Macroeconomics

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

Requisite: ECON 330/331, or ECON 235/237 with consent of the instructor. Limited to 30 students. Fall semester. Professor Honig.

2021-22: Offered in Fall 2021
Other years: Offered in Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2019, Spring 2021, Fall 2021

453 Economics of Entrepreneurship

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. Professor Blackwood. Omitted 2021-22.

2021-22: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, January 2021, Fall 2022

470 Mechanism Design

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

Requisite: ECON 301 or 420, MATH 211. Limited to 15 students. Spring semester. Professor Baisa. 

2021-22: Offered in Spring 2022
Other years: Offered in Spring 2015, Spring 2018, Spring 2019

471 Economic History Seminar

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 2021-22.

2021-22: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2008, Spring 2010, Fall 2012, Fall 2014, Spring 2023

472 Economic Distribution and Growth from the Neolithic to the Modern Age

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. Spring semester. Professor Barbezat.

2021-22: Offered in Spring 2022
Other years: Offered in Spring 2021

479 Institutions and Governance

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

Requisite: ECON 420 or consent of the instructor. Limited to 15 students. Professor Kingston. Omitted 2021-22.

2021-22: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Spring 2011, Spring 2016, Spring 2018, Spring 2020, Spring 2023

498 Senior Departmental Honors Seminar

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 Reyes.

2021-22: Offered in Fall 2021, Spring 2022
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2019, Fall 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Fall 2022

499 Senior Departmental Honors Project

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

Requisite: ECON 498. Spring semester. The Department.

2021-22: Offered in Fall 2021, Spring 2022
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2011, Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Spring 2016, Spring 2017, Spring 2018, Spring 2019, Spring 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Spring 2023

Admission & Financial Aid

Admission & Financial Aid

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Economics

Professors Barbezat (Chair), Honig, Kingston, Reyes and Sims; Associate Professors Baisa and Ishii*; Assistant Professors Blackwood*, Debnam Guzman*, Gebresilasse, Hyman*, Theoharides, and White*; Visiting Assistant Professors Khan and Porter; Visiting Lecturer Georgiou.

*On leave 2021-22

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

In its simplest form, the economics major consists of a total of nine full-semester courses in economics. These courses include: (1) An Introduction to Economics (111/111E); (2) Three core theory courses in Microeconomics (300 or 301), Macroeconomics (330 or 331), and Econometrics (360 or 361); (3) At least five other courses in economics, usually electives numbered 200-290 or 400-490, at least one of which is numbered 400-490.

The following sections clarify the details of these requirements.

Declaring an Economics Major. It is recommended that students take several economics courses prior to adding the economics major. Students must attain a grade of B or better in ECON 111/111E or a grade of B- or better in an economics elective (numbered 200-290) before being allowed to add the economics major. Major declarations should occur by the end of sophomore year, or by the end of junior year at the latest. Major declarations may not be made in the senior year, except by petition in exceptional circumstances. To be considered for an exception to this rule, students must write to the department chair explaining the circumstances of the late declaration.

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

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

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

Departmental Honors Program. The economics department strongly encourages our majors to consider doing a senior honors thesis in economics. To be eligible to enter the honors program, a senior (or second-semester junior in an E Class) must satisfy several requirements. First, the student must have already completed Microeconomic Theory (ECON 300 or 301), Macroeconomic Theory (ECON 330 or 331) and Econometrics (ECON 360 or 361) with an average grade of 11.00 or higher. (For reference, conversion equivalents are A = 13, A- = 12, B+ = 11, B = 10, etc.) No exceptions to this rule will be allowed. Normally, all of these core courses must be taken at Amherst (see above re exceptional circumstances). Therefore, a student considering writing a thesis and intending to study abroad should plan their course of study carefully, in consultation with economics faculty. Second, to be eligible to enter the honors program, a student must also have already completed one upper-level elective numbered 400 to 490. One possible exception is for students who have studied abroad for their entire junior year and have, in that time, taken a rigorous upper-level economics course that is approved by the department as a substitute. Third, those students in the honors program must take at least two upper-level electives numbered 400 to 490 (rather than just one) during their time at Amherst. We strongly encourage students to take these earlier rather than later, as they provide wonderful opportunities to develop one’s thinking about possible honors research topics. Lastly, we recommend that students who intend to enter the honors program take the advanced core theory courses, gain some experience doing economic research, and talk to faculty about economic research.

All honors students enroll in ECON 498, the Senior Departmental Honors Seminar, in the fall semester of their senior year. Within ECON 498, however, there are two alternative paths. Most students will enroll in Section 1, a seminar/workshop that supports students in undertaking independent research for their honors projects. This will be supplemented by work with a preliminary faculty advisor. Students who have already formulated a strong research plan in consultation with a faculty member, usually by developing their ideas in a 400-level economics course, can enroll in Section 2, 3... (the section number depends on the faculty advisor). These students will work closely with a faculty advisor from the beginning of the fall semester to further develop their thesis. In addition, they may participate in aspects of Section 1 such as group presentations. All students, regardless of section, will be expected to submit and present to the department a final thesis proposal at the end of the fall semester.

In the spring semester, all students complete their honors essay under the guidance of an individual faculty advisor by enrolling in ECON 499. At the end of the spring semester, all students will submit their written honors essay to the department for evaluation and will make an oral presentation to the department discussing their work.

Both ECON 498 and 499 can both be counted towards the major total course requirement (ten courses for honors students). Successful completion of ECON 498 and 499 will serve to satisfy the comprehensive exam requirement in economics for honors students. We encourage all students to discuss the possibility of honors work with their advisor and any faculty members in economics.

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

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

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

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

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

In response to the COVID-19 situation, current senior majors who were full-time students in both Fall and Spring of 2020-2021 can graduate with one fewer economics course, for a total of 8 economics courses for non-thesis writers and 9 for thesis writers. All majors will still be required to take the core economics courses (Microeconomic Theory, Macroeconomic Theory, and Econometrics) and all majors still must take at least one 400 level course, and thesis students are still required to take at least two 400 level courses.

111 An Introduction to Economics

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

Requisite for all other courses in Economics.

Fall and spring semesters: 25 students per discussion section. The Department.

2021-22: Offered in Fall 2021, Spring 2022
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Spring 2008, Fall 2008, Spring 2009, Fall 2009, Spring 2010, Fall 2010, Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Fall 2022, Spring 2023

111E An Introduction to Economics with Environmental Applications

(Offered as ECON 111E and ENST 230) A study of the central problem of scarcity and of the ways in which micro and macro economic systems allocate scarce resources among competing ends and apportion goods produced among people. Covers the same material as ECON 111 but with special attention to the relationship between economic activity and environmental problems and to the application of micro and macroeconomic theory tools to analyze environmental issues. A student may not receive credit for both ECON 111 and ECON 111E. Two 80-minute and one 50-minute lecture/discussions per week.

Admission with consent of the instructor. Limited to 30 Amherst College students. Fall and spring semesters. Professor Sims. 

2021-22: Offered in Fall 2021, Spring 2022
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Spring 2008, Fall 2008, Spring 2009, Fall 2009, Spring 2010, Fall 2010, Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Fall 2022, Spring 2023

207 Economics and Psychology

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 25 students. Professor Debnam Guzman. Omitted 2021-22.

2021-22: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Spring 2021, Spring 2023

210 Environmental and Natural Resource Economics

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 from an economic standpoint.

Requisite: ECON 111 or 111E. Limited to 30 students. Professor Sims. 

2021-22: Offered in Fall 2021
Other years: Offered in Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2011, Fall 2012, Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Spring 2016, Spring 2019, Fall 2021

211 AntiRacist AntiEconomics

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 22 students. Spring semester. Professor Reyes.

2021-22: Offered in Spring 2022
Other years: Offered in Spring 2023

212 Public Economics: Environment, Health, and Inequality

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. Spring semester. Professor Reyes.

2021-22: Offered in Spring 2022
Other years: Offered in Fall 2019, Spring 2021

214 Health Economics and Policy

Health care poses many pressing questions: Why do we spend so much on health care? Does this spending actually produce better health? How do health care institutions function? What is the appropriate role of government? How are we to judge the efficiency and equity of health care policy? By applying economic analysis to health, health care, and health care markets, health economics provides insight into these questions. In the first section of this course, we will assess the role of health care in the economy and apply economic models to the production of health and health care. In the second section of the course, we will study the structure of health care markets and the roles of key institutions. In the third section of the course, we will investigate the role of government and use our acquired knowledge to understand and evaluate health care policy and reform. Throughout this analysis, we will pay careful attention to the nature of health care markets, the anatomy of market failures, and the implications for public policy. Empirical results, current issues, and public policies will be discussed throughout the course. In addition to 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. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Reyes.

2021-22: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2017, Spring 2019, Fall 2020

218 The Economics of Inequality in the United States

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. Professor Hyman. Omitted 2021-22.

2021-22: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2019, Spring 2021, Fall 2022

220 Public Choice

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.

January-term courses will be offered remotely.

Requisite: ECON 111 or equivalent. Limited to 30 students. January term. Professor Kingston.

2021-22: Offered in January 2022, Spring 2022
Other years: Offered in Spring 2020, January 2021, January 2022, Spring 2023

223 The Economics of Migration

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

Requisite: ECON 111/111E or equivalent. Limited to 30 students. Fall semester. Professor Theoharides.

2021-22: Offered in Fall 2021
Other years: Offered in Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2019, Fall 2021

224 Introduction to Economic Networks

The modern era has seen an explosive growth in the interconnectedness of individuals and groups. From social networks facilitating the decentralized exchange of enormous amounts of information to the increasingly complex patterns of loans among financial institutions, the ties that connect agents are an important factor to consider for nearly any policy maker. Networks, collections of objects which are connected by links, have become increasingly prevalent in modern economic research due, in part, to their ability to bridge microeconomic behavior and aggregate patterns in a population. A departure from more traditional applications of networks as modeling physical systems to a more abstract framework capturing the relationships between autonomous agents adds a layer of complexity to the analysis that is well-suited for tools from economics, and in particular game theory. Broadly speaking, this course will explore how the structure of connections between individuals affects, and is affected by, the economic incentives of those individuals. We will begin with an introduction to graphs, and then turn to specific applications of networks within economics. We will discuss networked markets featuring intermediaries between buyers and sellers, the structure of information networks and internet economics, applications to sponsored search, centrality measures for influence, and end with models of cascades and innovation in networks and how the structure of a network affects the likelihood of a cascade.

Requisite: ECON 111/111E or equivalent. Limited to 35 students. Fall and Spring semesters. Professor Porter.

2021-22: Offered in Fall 2021, Spring 2022
Other years: Offered in Fall 2021, Fall 2022, Spring 2023

225 Industrial Organization

This course examines the determinants of and linkages between market structure, firm conduct, and industrial performance. Some of the questions that will be addressed include: Why do some markets have many sellers while others have only 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. Professor Ishii. Omitted 2021-22.

2021-22: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Spring 2011, Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2016, Spring 2018, Spring 2019, Spring 2020, Spring 2021, Spring 2023

237 Financial Globalization, Growth and Crises

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

Requisite: ECON 111/111E. Limited to 30 students. Not available to students who have taken ECON 435. Fall semester. Professor Honig.

2021-22: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2010, Fall 2010, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Spring 2016, Spring 2020, Fall 2020

250 Money, Banking, and Economic Activity

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 25 students. Fall and spring semesters. Professor Khan. 

2021-22: Offered in Fall 2021, Spring 2022
Other years: Offered in Fall 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Fall 2022

262 Development Economics

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. Spring semester. Professor Gebresilasse.

2021-22: Offered in Spring 2022
Other years: Offered in Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Fall 2022

275 Consumption and the Pursuit of Happiness

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. Spring semester. Professor Barbezat.

2021-22: Offered in Spring 2022
Other years: Offered in Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2011, Spring 2015

290, 390, 490, 490H Special Topics

Independent reading course. Full course.

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

2021-22: Offered in Fall 2021, Spring 2022
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Fall 2022, Spring 2023

300 Microeconomics

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

Requisite: MATH 111, or equivalent and at least a "B" grade in ECON 111/111E or a "B-" in ECON 200–290, or equivalent.

Fall semester: Limited to 50 students. Professor Baisa

Spring semester: Limited to 50 students. Professor Kingston.

2021-22: Offered in Fall 2021, Spring 2022
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Spring 2008, Fall 2008, Spring 2009, Fall 2009, Spring 2010, Fall 2010, Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Fall 2022, Spring 2023

301 Advanced Microeconomics

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

Requisite: At least a "B" grade in ECON 111/111E or a "B-" grade in ECON 200–290, or equivalent, and MATH 211 or equivalent, or consent of the instructor. Limited to 20 students. Fall semester. Professor Baisa.

2021-22: Offered in Fall 2021
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2019, Fall 2020, Fall 2021, Spring 2023

330 Macroeconomics

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

Requisite: Math 111 or equivalent and at least a "B" grade in ECON 111/111E or a "B-" in ECON 200–290, or equivalent. 

Fall semester: Limited to 50 students. Professor Barbezat.

Spring semester: Limited to 50 students. Professor Honig.

2021-22: Offered in Fall 2021, Spring 2022
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Spring 2008, Fall 2008, Spring 2009, Fall 2009, Spring 2010, Fall 2010, Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Fall 2022, Spring 2023

331 Advanced Macroeconomics

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

Requisite: At least a "B" grade in ECON 111/111E or a "B-" grade in ECON 200–290, or equivalent, and MATH 121 or equivalent, or consent of the instructor. Limited to 20 students. Spring semester. Professor Honig.

2021-22: Offered in Spring 2022
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2011, Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Spring 2016, Spring 2017, Spring 2018, Spring 2019, Spring 2020, Spring 2021, Spring 2023

360 Econometrics

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

Requisite: MATH 111, or equivalent and at least a "B" grade in ECON 111/111E or a "B-" in ECON 200–290, or equivalent. Fall and spring semesters.

Fall semester: Two sections limited to 25 students each. Professor Gebresilasse.

Spring semester: One section limited to 50 students. Professor Theoharides. 

 

2021-22: Offered in Fall 2021, Spring 2022
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Spring 2008, Fall 2008, Spring 2009, Fall 2009, Spring 2010, Fall 2010, Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Fall 2022, Spring 2023

361 Advanced Econometrics

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

Requisite: At least a "B" grade in ECON 111/111E or a "B-" grade in ECON 200–290, or equivalent, and MATH 211 or equivalent, and STAT 111 or STAT 135 or equivalent. Limited to 20 students. Professor Ishii. Omitted 2021-22.

2021-22: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2008, Spring 2010, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Spring 2014, Fall 2015, Spring 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2019, Fall 2020, Fall 2022

407 Advanced Behavioral Economics

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 2021-22.

2021-22: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Spring 2023

410 Environment and Development

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. Spring semester. Professor Sims.

2021-22: Offered in Spring 2022

414 Urban Economics

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. Professor Ishii. Omitted 2021-22.

2021-22: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2016, Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Spring 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2022

416 Economics of Race and Gender

(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) and ECON 360/361 (Econometrics) or Consent of Instructor. Limited to 15 students. Fall semester. Professor Reyes. 

2021-22: Offered in Fall 2021
Other years: Offered in Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Fall 2022

419 Education and Inequality in the United States

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. Professor Hyman. Omitted 2021-22.

2021-22: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Spring 2023

420 Game Theory and Applications

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

Requisite: ECON 300 or 301 or consent of the instructor. Limited to 30 students. Fall semester. Professor Kingston.

2021-22: Offered in Fall 2021
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2019, Fall 2020, Fall 2021, Fall 2022

421 Education and Human Capital in Developing Economies

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 and spring semesters. Professor Theoharides.

2021-22: Offered in Spring 2022
Other years: Offered in Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Spring 2021

435 Topics in Open-Economy Macroeconomics

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

Requisite: ECON 330/331, or ECON 235/237 with consent of the instructor. Limited to 30 students. Fall semester. Professor Honig.

2021-22: Offered in Fall 2021
Other years: Offered in Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2019, Spring 2021, Fall 2021

453 Economics of Entrepreneurship

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. Professor Blackwood. Omitted 2021-22.

2021-22: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, January 2021, Fall 2022

470 Mechanism Design

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

Requisite: ECON 301 or 420, MATH 211. Limited to 15 students. Spring semester. Professor Baisa. 

2021-22: Offered in Spring 2022
Other years: Offered in Spring 2015, Spring 2018, Spring 2019

471 Economic History Seminar

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 2021-22.

2021-22: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2008, Spring 2010, Fall 2012, Fall 2014, Spring 2023

472 Economic Distribution and Growth from the Neolithic to the Modern Age

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. Spring semester. Professor Barbezat.

2021-22: Offered in Spring 2022
Other years: Offered in Spring 2021

479 Institutions and Governance

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

Requisite: ECON 420 or consent of the instructor. Limited to 15 students. Professor Kingston. Omitted 2021-22.

2021-22: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Spring 2011, Spring 2016, Spring 2018, Spring 2020, Spring 2023

498 Senior Departmental Honors Seminar

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 Reyes.

2021-22: Offered in Fall 2021, Spring 2022
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2019, Fall 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Fall 2022

499 Senior Departmental Honors Project

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

Requisite: ECON 498. Spring semester. The Department.

2021-22: Offered in Fall 2021, Spring 2022
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2011, Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Spring 2016, Spring 2017, Spring 2018, Spring 2019, Spring 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Spring 2023

Regulations & Requirements

Regulations & Requirements

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Economics

Professors Barbezat (Chair), Honig, Kingston, Reyes and Sims; Associate Professors Baisa and Ishii*; Assistant Professors Blackwood*, Debnam Guzman*, Gebresilasse, Hyman*, Theoharides, and White*; Visiting Assistant Professors Khan and Porter; Visiting Lecturer Georgiou.

*On leave 2021-22

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

In its simplest form, the economics major consists of a total of nine full-semester courses in economics. These courses include: (1) An Introduction to Economics (111/111E); (2) Three core theory courses in Microeconomics (300 or 301), Macroeconomics (330 or 331), and Econometrics (360 or 361); (3) At least five other courses in economics, usually electives numbered 200-290 or 400-490, at least one of which is numbered 400-490.

The following sections clarify the details of these requirements.

Declaring an Economics Major. It is recommended that students take several economics courses prior to adding the economics major. Students must attain a grade of B or better in ECON 111/111E or a grade of B- or better in an economics elective (numbered 200-290) before being allowed to add the economics major. Major declarations should occur by the end of sophomore year, or by the end of junior year at the latest. Major declarations may not be made in the senior year, except by petition in exceptional circumstances. To be considered for an exception to this rule, students must write to the department chair explaining the circumstances of the late declaration.

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

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

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

Departmental Honors Program. The economics department strongly encourages our majors to consider doing a senior honors thesis in economics. To be eligible to enter the honors program, a senior (or second-semester junior in an E Class) must satisfy several requirements. First, the student must have already completed Microeconomic Theory (ECON 300 or 301), Macroeconomic Theory (ECON 330 or 331) and Econometrics (ECON 360 or 361) with an average grade of 11.00 or higher. (For reference, conversion equivalents are A = 13, A- = 12, B+ = 11, B = 10, etc.) No exceptions to this rule will be allowed. Normally, all of these core courses must be taken at Amherst (see above re exceptional circumstances). Therefore, a student considering writing a thesis and intending to study abroad should plan their course of study carefully, in consultation with economics faculty. Second, to be eligible to enter the honors program, a student must also have already completed one upper-level elective numbered 400 to 490. One possible exception is for students who have studied abroad for their entire junior year and have, in that time, taken a rigorous upper-level economics course that is approved by the department as a substitute. Third, those students in the honors program must take at least two upper-level electives numbered 400 to 490 (rather than just one) during their time at Amherst. We strongly encourage students to take these earlier rather than later, as they provide wonderful opportunities to develop one’s thinking about possible honors research topics. Lastly, we recommend that students who intend to enter the honors program take the advanced core theory courses, gain some experience doing economic research, and talk to faculty about economic research.

All honors students enroll in ECON 498, the Senior Departmental Honors Seminar, in the fall semester of their senior year. Within ECON 498, however, there are two alternative paths. Most students will enroll in Section 1, a seminar/workshop that supports students in undertaking independent research for their honors projects. This will be supplemented by work with a preliminary faculty advisor. Students who have already formulated a strong research plan in consultation with a faculty member, usually by developing their ideas in a 400-level economics course, can enroll in Section 2, 3... (the section number depends on the faculty advisor). These students will work closely with a faculty advisor from the beginning of the fall semester to further develop their thesis. In addition, they may participate in aspects of Section 1 such as group presentations. All students, regardless of section, will be expected to submit and present to the department a final thesis proposal at the end of the fall semester.

In the spring semester, all students complete their honors essay under the guidance of an individual faculty advisor by enrolling in ECON 499. At the end of the spring semester, all students will submit their written honors essay to the department for evaluation and will make an oral presentation to the department discussing their work.

Both ECON 498 and 499 can both be counted towards the major total course requirement (ten courses for honors students). Successful completion of ECON 498 and 499 will serve to satisfy the comprehensive exam requirement in economics for honors students. We encourage all students to discuss the possibility of honors work with their advisor and any faculty members in economics.

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

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

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

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

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

In response to the COVID-19 situation, current senior majors who were full-time students in both Fall and Spring of 2020-2021 can graduate with one fewer economics course, for a total of 8 economics courses for non-thesis writers and 9 for thesis writers. All majors will still be required to take the core economics courses (Microeconomic Theory, Macroeconomic Theory, and Econometrics) and all majors still must take at least one 400 level course, and thesis students are still required to take at least two 400 level courses.

111 An Introduction to Economics

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

Requisite for all other courses in Economics.

Fall and spring semesters: 25 students per discussion section. The Department.

2021-22: Offered in Fall 2021, Spring 2022
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Spring 2008, Fall 2008, Spring 2009, Fall 2009, Spring 2010, Fall 2010, Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Fall 2022, Spring 2023

111E An Introduction to Economics with Environmental Applications

(Offered as ECON 111E and ENST 230) A study of the central problem of scarcity and of the ways in which micro and macro economic systems allocate scarce resources among competing ends and apportion goods produced among people. Covers the same material as ECON 111 but with special attention to the relationship between economic activity and environmental problems and to the application of micro and macroeconomic theory tools to analyze environmental issues. A student may not receive credit for both ECON 111 and ECON 111E. Two 80-minute and one 50-minute lecture/discussions per week.

Admission with consent of the instructor. Limited to 30 Amherst College students. Fall and spring semesters. Professor Sims. 

2021-22: Offered in Fall 2021, Spring 2022
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Spring 2008, Fall 2008, Spring 2009, Fall 2009, Spring 2010, Fall 2010, Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Fall 2022, Spring 2023

207 Economics and Psychology

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 25 students. Professor Debnam Guzman. Omitted 2021-22.

2021-22: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Spring 2021, Spring 2023

210 Environmental and Natural Resource Economics

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 from an economic standpoint.

Requisite: ECON 111 or 111E. Limited to 30 students. Professor Sims. 

2021-22: Offered in Fall 2021
Other years: Offered in Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2011, Fall 2012, Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Spring 2016, Spring 2019, Fall 2021

211 AntiRacist AntiEconomics

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 22 students. Spring semester. Professor Reyes.

2021-22: Offered in Spring 2022
Other years: Offered in Spring 2023

212 Public Economics: Environment, Health, and Inequality

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. Spring semester. Professor Reyes.

2021-22: Offered in Spring 2022
Other years: Offered in Fall 2019, Spring 2021

214 Health Economics and Policy

Health care poses many pressing questions: Why do we spend so much on health care? Does this spending actually produce better health? How do health care institutions function? What is the appropriate role of government? How are we to judge the efficiency and equity of health care policy? By applying economic analysis to health, health care, and health care markets, health economics provides insight into these questions. In the first section of this course, we will assess the role of health care in the economy and apply economic models to the production of health and health care. In the second section of the course, we will study the structure of health care markets and the roles of key institutions. In the third section of the course, we will investigate the role of government and use our acquired knowledge to understand and evaluate health care policy and reform. Throughout this analysis, we will pay careful attention to the nature of health care markets, the anatomy of market failures, and the implications for public policy. Empirical results, current issues, and public policies will be discussed throughout the course. In addition to 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. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Reyes.

2021-22: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2017, Spring 2019, Fall 2020

218 The Economics of Inequality in the United States

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. Professor Hyman. Omitted 2021-22.

2021-22: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2019, Spring 2021, Fall 2022

220 Public Choice

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.

January-term courses will be offered remotely.

Requisite: ECON 111 or equivalent. Limited to 30 students. January term. Professor Kingston.

2021-22: Offered in January 2022, Spring 2022
Other years: Offered in Spring 2020, January 2021, January 2022, Spring 2023

223 The Economics of Migration

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

Requisite: ECON 111/111E or equivalent. Limited to 30 students. Fall semester. Professor Theoharides.

2021-22: Offered in Fall 2021
Other years: Offered in Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2019, Fall 2021

224 Introduction to Economic Networks

The modern era has seen an explosive growth in the interconnectedness of individuals and groups. From social networks facilitating the decentralized exchange of enormous amounts of information to the increasingly complex patterns of loans among financial institutions, the ties that connect agents are an important factor to consider for nearly any policy maker. Networks, collections of objects which are connected by links, have become increasingly prevalent in modern economic research due, in part, to their ability to bridge microeconomic behavior and aggregate patterns in a population. A departure from more traditional applications of networks as modeling physical systems to a more abstract framework capturing the relationships between autonomous agents adds a layer of complexity to the analysis that is well-suited for tools from economics, and in particular game theory. Broadly speaking, this course will explore how the structure of connections between individuals affects, and is affected by, the economic incentives of those individuals. We will begin with an introduction to graphs, and then turn to specific applications of networks within economics. We will discuss networked markets featuring intermediaries between buyers and sellers, the structure of information networks and internet economics, applications to sponsored search, centrality measures for influence, and end with models of cascades and innovation in networks and how the structure of a network affects the likelihood of a cascade.

Requisite: ECON 111/111E or equivalent. Limited to 35 students. Fall and Spring semesters. Professor Porter.

2021-22: Offered in Fall 2021, Spring 2022
Other years: Offered in Fall 2021, Fall 2022, Spring 2023

225 Industrial Organization

This course examines the determinants of and linkages between market structure, firm conduct, and industrial performance. Some of the questions that will be addressed include: Why do some markets have many sellers while others have only 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. Professor Ishii. Omitted 2021-22.

2021-22: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Spring 2011, Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2016, Spring 2018, Spring 2019, Spring 2020, Spring 2021, Spring 2023

237 Financial Globalization, Growth and Crises

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

Requisite: ECON 111/111E. Limited to 30 students. Not available to students who have taken ECON 435. Fall semester. Professor Honig.

2021-22: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2010, Fall 2010, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Spring 2016, Spring 2020, Fall 2020

250 Money, Banking, and Economic Activity

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 25 students. Fall and spring semesters. Professor Khan. 

2021-22: Offered in Fall 2021, Spring 2022
Other years: Offered in Fall 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Fall 2022

262 Development Economics

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. Spring semester. Professor Gebresilasse.

2021-22: Offered in Spring 2022
Other years: Offered in Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Fall 2022

275 Consumption and the Pursuit of Happiness

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. Spring semester. Professor Barbezat.

2021-22: Offered in Spring 2022
Other years: Offered in Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2011, Spring 2015

290, 390, 490, 490H Special Topics

Independent reading course. Full course.

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

2021-22: Offered in Fall 2021, Spring 2022
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Fall 2022, Spring 2023

300 Microeconomics

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

Requisite: MATH 111, or equivalent and at least a "B" grade in ECON 111/111E or a "B-" in ECON 200–290, or equivalent.

Fall semester: Limited to 50 students. Professor Baisa

Spring semester: Limited to 50 students. Professor Kingston.

2021-22: Offered in Fall 2021, Spring 2022
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Spring 2008, Fall 2008, Spring 2009, Fall 2009, Spring 2010, Fall 2010, Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Fall 2022, Spring 2023

301 Advanced Microeconomics

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

Requisite: At least a "B" grade in ECON 111/111E or a "B-" grade in ECON 200–290, or equivalent, and MATH 211 or equivalent, or consent of the instructor. Limited to 20 students. Fall semester. Professor Baisa.

2021-22: Offered in Fall 2021
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2019, Fall 2020, Fall 2021, Spring 2023

330 Macroeconomics

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

Requisite: Math 111 or equivalent and at least a "B" grade in ECON 111/111E or a "B-" in ECON 200–290, or equivalent. 

Fall semester: Limited to 50 students. Professor Barbezat.

Spring semester: Limited to 50 students. Professor Honig.

2021-22: Offered in Fall 2021, Spring 2022
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Spring 2008, Fall 2008, Spring 2009, Fall 2009, Spring 2010, Fall 2010, Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Fall 2022, Spring 2023

331 Advanced Macroeconomics

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

Requisite: At least a "B" grade in ECON 111/111E or a "B-" grade in ECON 200–290, or equivalent, and MATH 121 or equivalent, or consent of the instructor. Limited to 20 students. Spring semester. Professor Honig.

2021-22: Offered in Spring 2022
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2011, Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Spring 2016, Spring 2017, Spring 2018, Spring 2019, Spring 2020, Spring 2021, Spring 2023

360 Econometrics

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

Requisite: MATH 111, or equivalent and at least a "B" grade in ECON 111/111E or a "B-" in ECON 200–290, or equivalent. Fall and spring semesters.

Fall semester: Two sections limited to 25 students each. Professor Gebresilasse.

Spring semester: One section limited to 50 students. Professor Theoharides. 

 

2021-22: Offered in Fall 2021, Spring 2022
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Spring 2008, Fall 2008, Spring 2009, Fall 2009, Spring 2010, Fall 2010, Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Fall 2022, Spring 2023

361 Advanced Econometrics

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

Requisite: At least a "B" grade in ECON 111/111E or a "B-" grade in ECON 200–290, or equivalent, and MATH 211 or equivalent, and STAT 111 or STAT 135 or equivalent. Limited to 20 students. Professor Ishii. Omitted 2021-22.

2021-22: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2008, Spring 2010, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Spring 2014, Fall 2015, Spring 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2019, Fall 2020, Fall 2022

407 Advanced Behavioral Economics

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 2021-22.

2021-22: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Spring 2023

410 Environment and Development

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. Spring semester. Professor Sims.

2021-22: Offered in Spring 2022

414 Urban Economics

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. Professor Ishii. Omitted 2021-22.

2021-22: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2016, Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Spring 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2022

416 Economics of Race and Gender

(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) and ECON 360/361 (Econometrics) or Consent of Instructor. Limited to 15 students. Fall semester. Professor Reyes. 

2021-22: Offered in Fall 2021
Other years: Offered in Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Fall 2022

419 Education and Inequality in the United States

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. Professor Hyman. Omitted 2021-22.

2021-22: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Spring 2023

420 Game Theory and Applications

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

Requisite: ECON 300 or 301 or consent of the instructor. Limited to 30 students. Fall semester. Professor Kingston.

2021-22: Offered in Fall 2021
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2019, Fall 2020, Fall 2021, Fall 2022

421 Education and Human Capital in Developing Economies

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 and spring semesters. Professor Theoharides.

2021-22: Offered in Spring 2022
Other years: Offered in Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Spring 2021

435 Topics in Open-Economy Macroeconomics

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

Requisite: ECON 330/331, or ECON 235/237 with consent of the instructor. Limited to 30 students. Fall semester. Professor Honig.

2021-22: Offered in Fall 2021
Other years: Offered in Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2019, Spring 2021, Fall 2021

453 Economics of Entrepreneurship

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. Professor Blackwood. Omitted 2021-22.

2021-22: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, January 2021, Fall 2022

470 Mechanism Design

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

Requisite: ECON 301 or 420, MATH 211. Limited to 15 students. Spring semester. Professor Baisa. 

2021-22: Offered in Spring 2022
Other years: Offered in Spring 2015, Spring 2018, Spring 2019

471 Economic History Seminar

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 2021-22.

2021-22: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2008, Spring 2010, Fall 2012, Fall 2014, Spring 2023

472 Economic Distribution and Growth from the Neolithic to the Modern Age

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. Spring semester. Professor Barbezat.

2021-22: Offered in Spring 2022
Other years: Offered in Spring 2021

479 Institutions and Governance

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

Requisite: ECON 420 or consent of the instructor. Limited to 15 students. Professor Kingston. Omitted 2021-22.

2021-22: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Spring 2011, Spring 2016, Spring 2018, Spring 2020, Spring 2023

498 Senior Departmental Honors Seminar

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 Reyes.

2021-22: Offered in Fall 2021, Spring 2022
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2019, Fall 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Fall 2022

499 Senior Departmental Honors Project

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

Requisite: ECON 498. Spring semester. The Department.

2021-22: Offered in Fall 2021, Spring 2022
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2011, Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Spring 2016, Spring 2017, Spring 2018, Spring 2019, Spring 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Spring 2023

Amherst College Courses

Amherst College Courses

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Economics

Professors Barbezat (Chair), Honig, Kingston, Reyes and Sims; Associate Professors Baisa and Ishii*; Assistant Professors Blackwood*, Debnam Guzman*, Gebresilasse, Hyman*, Theoharides, and White*; Visiting Assistant Professors Khan and Porter; Visiting Lecturer Georgiou.

*On leave 2021-22

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

In its simplest form, the economics major consists of a total of nine full-semester courses in economics. These courses include: (1) An Introduction to Economics (111/111E); (2) Three core theory courses in Microeconomics (300 or 301), Macroeconomics (330 or 331), and Econometrics (360 or 361); (3) At least five other courses in economics, usually electives numbered 200-290 or 400-490, at least one of which is numbered 400-490.

The following sections clarify the details of these requirements.

Declaring an Economics Major. It is recommended that students take several economics courses prior to adding the economics major. Students must attain a grade of B or better in ECON 111/111E or a grade of B- or better in an economics elective (numbered 200-290) before being allowed to add the economics major. Major declarations should occur by the end of sophomore year, or by the end of junior year at the latest. Major declarations may not be made in the senior year, except by petition in exceptional circumstances. To be considered for an exception to this rule, students must write to the department chair explaining the circumstances of the late declaration.

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

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

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

Departmental Honors Program. The economics department strongly encourages our majors to consider doing a senior honors thesis in economics. To be eligible to enter the honors program, a senior (or second-semester junior in an E Class) must satisfy several requirements. First, the student must have already completed Microeconomic Theory (ECON 300 or 301), Macroeconomic Theory (ECON 330 or 331) and Econometrics (ECON 360 or 361) with an average grade of 11.00 or higher. (For reference, conversion equivalents are A = 13, A- = 12, B+ = 11, B = 10, etc.) No exceptions to this rule will be allowed. Normally, all of these core courses must be taken at Amherst (see above re exceptional circumstances). Therefore, a student considering writing a thesis and intending to study abroad should plan their course of study carefully, in consultation with economics faculty. Second, to be eligible to enter the honors program, a student must also have already completed one upper-level elective numbered 400 to 490. One possible exception is for students who have studied abroad for their entire junior year and have, in that time, taken a rigorous upper-level economics course that is approved by the department as a substitute. Third, those students in the honors program must take at least two upper-level electives numbered 400 to 490 (rather than just one) during their time at Amherst. We strongly encourage students to take these earlier rather than later, as they provide wonderful opportunities to develop one’s thinking about possible honors research topics. Lastly, we recommend that students who intend to enter the honors program take the advanced core theory courses, gain some experience doing economic research, and talk to faculty about economic research.

All honors students enroll in ECON 498, the Senior Departmental Honors Seminar, in the fall semester of their senior year. Within ECON 498, however, there are two alternative paths. Most students will enroll in Section 1, a seminar/workshop that supports students in undertaking independent research for their honors projects. This will be supplemented by work with a preliminary faculty advisor. Students who have already formulated a strong research plan in consultation with a faculty member, usually by developing their ideas in a 400-level economics course, can enroll in Section 2, 3... (the section number depends on the faculty advisor). These students will work closely with a faculty advisor from the beginning of the fall semester to further develop their thesis. In addition, they may participate in aspects of Section 1 such as group presentations. All students, regardless of section, will be expected to submit and present to the department a final thesis proposal at the end of the fall semester.

In the spring semester, all students complete their honors essay under the guidance of an individual faculty advisor by enrolling in ECON 499. At the end of the spring semester, all students will submit their written honors essay to the department for evaluation and will make an oral presentation to the department discussing their work.

Both ECON 498 and 499 can both be counted towards the major total course requirement (ten courses for honors students). Successful completion of ECON 498 and 499 will serve to satisfy the comprehensive exam requirement in economics for honors students. We encourage all students to discuss the possibility of honors work with their advisor and any faculty members in economics.

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

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

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

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

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

In response to the COVID-19 situation, current senior majors who were full-time students in both Fall and Spring of 2020-2021 can graduate with one fewer economics course, for a total of 8 economics courses for non-thesis writers and 9 for thesis writers. All majors will still be required to take the core economics courses (Microeconomic Theory, Macroeconomic Theory, and Econometrics) and all majors still must take at least one 400 level course, and thesis students are still required to take at least two 400 level courses.

111 An Introduction to Economics

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

Requisite for all other courses in Economics.

Fall and spring semesters: 25 students per discussion section. The Department.

2021-22: Offered in Fall 2021, Spring 2022
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Spring 2008, Fall 2008, Spring 2009, Fall 2009, Spring 2010, Fall 2010, Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Fall 2022, Spring 2023

111E An Introduction to Economics with Environmental Applications

(Offered as ECON 111E and ENST 230) A study of the central problem of scarcity and of the ways in which micro and macro economic systems allocate scarce resources among competing ends and apportion goods produced among people. Covers the same material as ECON 111 but with special attention to the relationship between economic activity and environmental problems and to the application of micro and macroeconomic theory tools to analyze environmental issues. A student may not receive credit for both ECON 111 and ECON 111E. Two 80-minute and one 50-minute lecture/discussions per week.

Admission with consent of the instructor. Limited to 30 Amherst College students. Fall and spring semesters. Professor Sims. 

2021-22: Offered in Fall 2021, Spring 2022
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Spring 2008, Fall 2008, Spring 2009, Fall 2009, Spring 2010, Fall 2010, Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Fall 2022, Spring 2023

207 Economics and Psychology

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 25 students. Professor Debnam Guzman. Omitted 2021-22.

2021-22: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Spring 2021, Spring 2023

210 Environmental and Natural Resource Economics

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 from an economic standpoint.

Requisite: ECON 111 or 111E. Limited to 30 students. Professor Sims. 

2021-22: Offered in Fall 2021
Other years: Offered in Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2011, Fall 2012, Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Spring 2016, Spring 2019, Fall 2021

211 AntiRacist AntiEconomics

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 22 students. Spring semester. Professor Reyes.

2021-22: Offered in Spring 2022
Other years: Offered in Spring 2023

212 Public Economics: Environment, Health, and Inequality

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. Spring semester. Professor Reyes.

2021-22: Offered in Spring 2022
Other years: Offered in Fall 2019, Spring 2021

214 Health Economics and Policy

Health care poses many pressing questions: Why do we spend so much on health care? Does this spending actually produce better health? How do health care institutions function? What is the appropriate role of government? How are we to judge the efficiency and equity of health care policy? By applying economic analysis to health, health care, and health care markets, health economics provides insight into these questions. In the first section of this course, we will assess the role of health care in the economy and apply economic models to the production of health and health care. In the second section of the course, we will study the structure of health care markets and the roles of key institutions. In the third section of the course, we will investigate the role of government and use our acquired knowledge to understand and evaluate health care policy and reform. Throughout this analysis, we will pay careful attention to the nature of health care markets, the anatomy of market failures, and the implications for public policy. Empirical results, current issues, and public policies will be discussed throughout the course. In addition to 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. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Reyes.

2021-22: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2017, Spring 2019, Fall 2020

218 The Economics of Inequality in the United States

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. Professor Hyman. Omitted 2021-22.

2021-22: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2019, Spring 2021, Fall 2022

220 Public Choice

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.

January-term courses will be offered remotely.

Requisite: ECON 111 or equivalent. Limited to 30 students. January term. Professor Kingston.

2021-22: Offered in January 2022, Spring 2022
Other years: Offered in Spring 2020, January 2021, January 2022, Spring 2023

223 The Economics of Migration

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

Requisite: ECON 111/111E or equivalent. Limited to 30 students. Fall semester. Professor Theoharides.

2021-22: Offered in Fall 2021
Other years: Offered in Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2019, Fall 2021

224 Introduction to Economic Networks

The modern era has seen an explosive growth in the interconnectedness of individuals and groups. From social networks facilitating the decentralized exchange of enormous amounts of information to the increasingly complex patterns of loans among financial institutions, the ties that connect agents are an important factor to consider for nearly any policy maker. Networks, collections of objects which are connected by links, have become increasingly prevalent in modern economic research due, in part, to their ability to bridge microeconomic behavior and aggregate patterns in a population. A departure from more traditional applications of networks as modeling physical systems to a more abstract framework capturing the relationships between autonomous agents adds a layer of complexity to the analysis that is well-suited for tools from economics, and in particular game theory. Broadly speaking, this course will explore how the structure of connections between individuals affects, and is affected by, the economic incentives of those individuals. We will begin with an introduction to graphs, and then turn to specific applications of networks within economics. We will discuss networked markets featuring intermediaries between buyers and sellers, the structure of information networks and internet economics, applications to sponsored search, centrality measures for influence, and end with models of cascades and innovation in networks and how the structure of a network affects the likelihood of a cascade.

Requisite: ECON 111/111E or equivalent. Limited to 35 students. Fall and Spring semesters. Professor Porter.

2021-22: Offered in Fall 2021, Spring 2022
Other years: Offered in Fall 2021, Fall 2022, Spring 2023

225 Industrial Organization

This course examines the determinants of and linkages between market structure, firm conduct, and industrial performance. Some of the questions that will be addressed include: Why do some markets have many sellers while others have only 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. Professor Ishii. Omitted 2021-22.

2021-22: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Spring 2011, Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2016, Spring 2018, Spring 2019, Spring 2020, Spring 2021, Spring 2023

237 Financial Globalization, Growth and Crises

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

Requisite: ECON 111/111E. Limited to 30 students. Not available to students who have taken ECON 435. Fall semester. Professor Honig.

2021-22: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2010, Fall 2010, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Spring 2016, Spring 2020, Fall 2020

250 Money, Banking, and Economic Activity

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 25 students. Fall and spring semesters. Professor Khan. 

2021-22: Offered in Fall 2021, Spring 2022
Other years: Offered in Fall 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Fall 2022

262 Development Economics

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. Spring semester. Professor Gebresilasse.

2021-22: Offered in Spring 2022
Other years: Offered in Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Fall 2022

275 Consumption and the Pursuit of Happiness

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. Spring semester. Professor Barbezat.

2021-22: Offered in Spring 2022
Other years: Offered in Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2011, Spring 2015

290, 390, 490, 490H Special Topics

Independent reading course. Full course.

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

2021-22: Offered in Fall 2021, Spring 2022
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Fall 2022, Spring 2023

300 Microeconomics

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

Requisite: MATH 111, or equivalent and at least a "B" grade in ECON 111/111E or a "B-" in ECON 200–290, or equivalent.

Fall semester: Limited to 50 students. Professor Baisa

Spring semester: Limited to 50 students. Professor Kingston.

2021-22: Offered in Fall 2021, Spring 2022
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Spring 2008, Fall 2008, Spring 2009, Fall 2009, Spring 2010, Fall 2010, Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Fall 2022, Spring 2023

301 Advanced Microeconomics

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

Requisite: At least a "B" grade in ECON 111/111E or a "B-" grade in ECON 200–290, or equivalent, and MATH 211 or equivalent, or consent of the instructor. Limited to 20 students. Fall semester. Professor Baisa.

2021-22: Offered in Fall 2021
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2019, Fall 2020, Fall 2021, Spring 2023

330 Macroeconomics

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

Requisite: Math 111 or equivalent and at least a "B" grade in ECON 111/111E or a "B-" in ECON 200–290, or equivalent. 

Fall semester: Limited to 50 students. Professor Barbezat.

Spring semester: Limited to 50 students. Professor Honig.

2021-22: Offered in Fall 2021, Spring 2022
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Spring 2008, Fall 2008, Spring 2009, Fall 2009, Spring 2010, Fall 2010, Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Fall 2022, Spring 2023

331 Advanced Macroeconomics

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

Requisite: At least a "B" grade in ECON 111/111E or a "B-" grade in ECON 200–290, or equivalent, and MATH 121 or equivalent, or consent of the instructor. Limited to 20 students. Spring semester. Professor Honig.

2021-22: Offered in Spring 2022
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2011, Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Spring 2016, Spring 2017, Spring 2018, Spring 2019, Spring 2020, Spring 2021, Spring 2023

360 Econometrics

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

Requisite: MATH 111, or equivalent and at least a "B" grade in ECON 111/111E or a "B-" in ECON 200–290, or equivalent. Fall and spring semesters.

Fall semester: Two sections limited to 25 students each. Professor Gebresilasse.

Spring semester: One section limited to 50 students. Professor Theoharides. 

 

2021-22: Offered in Fall 2021, Spring 2022
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Spring 2008, Fall 2008, Spring 2009, Fall 2009, Spring 2010, Fall 2010, Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Fall 2022, Spring 2023

361 Advanced Econometrics

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

Requisite: At least a "B" grade in ECON 111/111E or a "B-" grade in ECON 200–290, or equivalent, and MATH 211 or equivalent, and STAT 111 or STAT 135 or equivalent. Limited to 20 students. Professor Ishii. Omitted 2021-22.

2021-22: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2008, Spring 2010, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Spring 2014, Fall 2015, Spring 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2019, Fall 2020, Fall 2022

407 Advanced Behavioral Economics

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 2021-22.

2021-22: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Spring 2023

410 Environment and Development

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. Spring semester. Professor Sims.

2021-22: Offered in Spring 2022

414 Urban Economics

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. Professor Ishii. Omitted 2021-22.

2021-22: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2016, Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Spring 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2022

416 Economics of Race and Gender

(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) and ECON 360/361 (Econometrics) or Consent of Instructor. Limited to 15 students. Fall semester. Professor Reyes. 

2021-22: Offered in Fall 2021
Other years: Offered in Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Fall 2022

419 Education and Inequality in the United States

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. Professor Hyman. Omitted 2021-22.

2021-22: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Spring 2023

420 Game Theory and Applications

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

Requisite: ECON 300 or 301 or consent of the instructor. Limited to 30 students. Fall semester. Professor Kingston.

2021-22: Offered in Fall 2021
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2019, Fall 2020, Fall 2021, Fall 2022

421 Education and Human Capital in Developing Economies

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 and spring semesters. Professor Theoharides.

2021-22: Offered in Spring 2022
Other years: Offered in Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Spring 2021

435 Topics in Open-Economy Macroeconomics

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

Requisite: ECON 330/331, or ECON 235/237 with consent of the instructor. Limited to 30 students. Fall semester. Professor Honig.

2021-22: Offered in Fall 2021
Other years: Offered in Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2019, Spring 2021, Fall 2021

453 Economics of Entrepreneurship

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. Professor Blackwood. Omitted 2021-22.

2021-22: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, January 2021, Fall 2022

470 Mechanism Design

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

Requisite: ECON 301 or 420, MATH 211. Limited to 15 students. Spring semester. Professor Baisa. 

2021-22: Offered in Spring 2022
Other years: Offered in Spring 2015, Spring 2018, Spring 2019

471 Economic History Seminar

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 2021-22.

2021-22: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2008, Spring 2010, Fall 2012, Fall 2014, Spring 2023

472 Economic Distribution and Growth from the Neolithic to the Modern Age

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. Spring semester. Professor Barbezat.

2021-22: Offered in Spring 2022
Other years: Offered in Spring 2021

479 Institutions and Governance

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

Requisite: ECON 420 or consent of the instructor. Limited to 15 students. Professor Kingston. Omitted 2021-22.

2021-22: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Spring 2011, Spring 2016, Spring 2018, Spring 2020, Spring 2023

498 Senior Departmental Honors Seminar

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 Reyes.

2021-22: Offered in Fall 2021, Spring 2022
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2019, Fall 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Fall 2022

499 Senior Departmental Honors Project

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

Requisite: ECON 498. Spring semester. The Department.

2021-22: Offered in Fall 2021, Spring 2022
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2011, Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Spring 2016, Spring 2017, Spring 2018, Spring 2019, Spring 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Spring 2023

Five College Programs & Certificates

Five College Programs & Certificates

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Economics

Professors Barbezat (Chair), Honig, Kingston, Reyes and Sims; Associate Professors Baisa and Ishii*; Assistant Professors Blackwood*, Debnam Guzman*, Gebresilasse, Hyman*, Theoharides, and White*; Visiting Assistant Professors Khan and Porter; Visiting Lecturer Georgiou.

*On leave 2021-22

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

In its simplest form, the economics major consists of a total of nine full-semester courses in economics. These courses include: (1) An Introduction to Economics (111/111E); (2) Three core theory courses in Microeconomics (300 or 301), Macroeconomics (330 or 331), and Econometrics (360 or 361); (3) At least five other courses in economics, usually electives numbered 200-290 or 400-490, at least one of which is numbered 400-490.

The following sections clarify the details of these requirements.

Declaring an Economics Major. It is recommended that students take several economics courses prior to adding the economics major. Students must attain a grade of B or better in ECON 111/111E or a grade of B- or better in an economics elective (numbered 200-290) before being allowed to add the economics major. Major declarations should occur by the end of sophomore year, or by the end of junior year at the latest. Major declarations may not be made in the senior year, except by petition in exceptional circumstances. To be considered for an exception to this rule, students must write to the department chair explaining the circumstances of the late declaration.

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

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

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

Departmental Honors Program. The economics department strongly encourages our majors to consider doing a senior honors thesis in economics. To be eligible to enter the honors program, a senior (or second-semester junior in an E Class) must satisfy several requirements. First, the student must have already completed Microeconomic Theory (ECON 300 or 301), Macroeconomic Theory (ECON 330 or 331) and Econometrics (ECON 360 or 361) with an average grade of 11.00 or higher. (For reference, conversion equivalents are A = 13, A- = 12, B+ = 11, B = 10, etc.) No exceptions to this rule will be allowed. Normally, all of these core courses must be taken at Amherst (see above re exceptional circumstances). Therefore, a student considering writing a thesis and intending to study abroad should plan their course of study carefully, in consultation with economics faculty. Second, to be eligible to enter the honors program, a student must also have already completed one upper-level elective numbered 400 to 490. One possible exception is for students who have studied abroad for their entire junior year and have, in that time, taken a rigorous upper-level economics course that is approved by the department as a substitute. Third, those students in the honors program must take at least two upper-level electives numbered 400 to 490 (rather than just one) during their time at Amherst. We strongly encourage students to take these earlier rather than later, as they provide wonderful opportunities to develop one’s thinking about possible honors research topics. Lastly, we recommend that students who intend to enter the honors program take the advanced core theory courses, gain some experience doing economic research, and talk to faculty about economic research.

All honors students enroll in ECON 498, the Senior Departmental Honors Seminar, in the fall semester of their senior year. Within ECON 498, however, there are two alternative paths. Most students will enroll in Section 1, a seminar/workshop that supports students in undertaking independent research for their honors projects. This will be supplemented by work with a preliminary faculty advisor. Students who have already formulated a strong research plan in consultation with a faculty member, usually by developing their ideas in a 400-level economics course, can enroll in Section 2, 3... (the section number depends on the faculty advisor). These students will work closely with a faculty advisor from the beginning of the fall semester to further develop their thesis. In addition, they may participate in aspects of Section 1 such as group presentations. All students, regardless of section, will be expected to submit and present to the department a final thesis proposal at the end of the fall semester.

In the spring semester, all students complete their honors essay under the guidance of an individual faculty advisor by enrolling in ECON 499. At the end of the spring semester, all students will submit their written honors essay to the department for evaluation and will make an oral presentation to the department discussing their work.

Both ECON 498 and 499 can both be counted towards the major total course requirement (ten courses for honors students). Successful completion of ECON 498 and 499 will serve to satisfy the comprehensive exam requirement in economics for honors students. We encourage all students to discuss the possibility of honors work with their advisor and any faculty members in economics.

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

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

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

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

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

In response to the COVID-19 situation, current senior majors who were full-time students in both Fall and Spring of 2020-2021 can graduate with one fewer economics course, for a total of 8 economics courses for non-thesis writers and 9 for thesis writers. All majors will still be required to take the core economics courses (Microeconomic Theory, Macroeconomic Theory, and Econometrics) and all majors still must take at least one 400 level course, and thesis students are still required to take at least two 400 level courses.

111 An Introduction to Economics

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

Requisite for all other courses in Economics.

Fall and spring semesters: 25 students per discussion section. The Department.

2021-22: Offered in Fall 2021, Spring 2022
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Spring 2008, Fall 2008, Spring 2009, Fall 2009, Spring 2010, Fall 2010, Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Fall 2022, Spring 2023

111E An Introduction to Economics with Environmental Applications

(Offered as ECON 111E and ENST 230) A study of the central problem of scarcity and of the ways in which micro and macro economic systems allocate scarce resources among competing ends and apportion goods produced among people. Covers the same material as ECON 111 but with special attention to the relationship between economic activity and environmental problems and to the application of micro and macroeconomic theory tools to analyze environmental issues. A student may not receive credit for both ECON 111 and ECON 111E. Two 80-minute and one 50-minute lecture/discussions per week.

Admission with consent of the instructor. Limited to 30 Amherst College students. Fall and spring semesters. Professor Sims. 

2021-22: Offered in Fall 2021, Spring 2022
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Spring 2008, Fall 2008, Spring 2009, Fall 2009, Spring 2010, Fall 2010, Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Fall 2022, Spring 2023

207 Economics and Psychology

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 25 students. Professor Debnam Guzman. Omitted 2021-22.

2021-22: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Spring 2021, Spring 2023

210 Environmental and Natural Resource Economics

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 from an economic standpoint.

Requisite: ECON 111 or 111E. Limited to 30 students. Professor Sims. 

2021-22: Offered in Fall 2021
Other years: Offered in Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2011, Fall 2012, Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Spring 2016, Spring 2019, Fall 2021

211 AntiRacist AntiEconomics

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 22 students. Spring semester. Professor Reyes.

2021-22: Offered in Spring 2022
Other years: Offered in Spring 2023

212 Public Economics: Environment, Health, and Inequality

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. Spring semester. Professor Reyes.

2021-22: Offered in Spring 2022
Other years: Offered in Fall 2019, Spring 2021

214 Health Economics and Policy

Health care poses many pressing questions: Why do we spend so much on health care? Does this spending actually produce better health? How do health care institutions function? What is the appropriate role of government? How are we to judge the efficiency and equity of health care policy? By applying economic analysis to health, health care, and health care markets, health economics provides insight into these questions. In the first section of this course, we will assess the role of health care in the economy and apply economic models to the production of health and health care. In the second section of the course, we will study the structure of health care markets and the roles of key institutions. In the third section of the course, we will investigate the role of government and use our acquired knowledge to understand and evaluate health care policy and reform. Throughout this analysis, we will pay careful attention to the nature of health care markets, the anatomy of market failures, and the implications for public policy. Empirical results, current issues, and public policies will be discussed throughout the course. In addition to 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. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Reyes.

2021-22: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2017, Spring 2019, Fall 2020

218 The Economics of Inequality in the United States

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. Professor Hyman. Omitted 2021-22.

2021-22: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2019, Spring 2021, Fall 2022

220 Public Choice

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.

January-term courses will be offered remotely.

Requisite: ECON 111 or equivalent. Limited to 30 students. January term. Professor Kingston.

2021-22: Offered in January 2022, Spring 2022
Other years: Offered in Spring 2020, January 2021, January 2022, Spring 2023

223 The Economics of Migration

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

Requisite: ECON 111/111E or equivalent. Limited to 30 students. Fall semester. Professor Theoharides.

2021-22: Offered in Fall 2021
Other years: Offered in Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2019, Fall 2021

224 Introduction to Economic Networks

The modern era has seen an explosive growth in the interconnectedness of individuals and groups. From social networks facilitating the decentralized exchange of enormous amounts of information to the increasingly complex patterns of loans among financial institutions, the ties that connect agents are an important factor to consider for nearly any policy maker. Networks, collections of objects which are connected by links, have become increasingly prevalent in modern economic research due, in part, to their ability to bridge microeconomic behavior and aggregate patterns in a population. A departure from more traditional applications of networks as modeling physical systems to a more abstract framework capturing the relationships between autonomous agents adds a layer of complexity to the analysis that is well-suited for tools from economics, and in particular game theory. Broadly speaking, this course will explore how the structure of connections between individuals affects, and is affected by, the economic incentives of those individuals. We will begin with an introduction to graphs, and then turn to specific applications of networks within economics. We will discuss networked markets featuring intermediaries between buyers and sellers, the structure of information networks and internet economics, applications to sponsored search, centrality measures for influence, and end with models of cascades and innovation in networks and how the structure of a network affects the likelihood of a cascade.

Requisite: ECON 111/111E or equivalent. Limited to 35 students. Fall and Spring semesters. Professor Porter.

2021-22: Offered in Fall 2021, Spring 2022
Other years: Offered in Fall 2021, Fall 2022, Spring 2023

225 Industrial Organization

This course examines the determinants of and linkages between market structure, firm conduct, and industrial performance. Some of the questions that will be addressed include: Why do some markets have many sellers while others have only 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. Professor Ishii. Omitted 2021-22.

2021-22: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Spring 2011, Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2016, Spring 2018, Spring 2019, Spring 2020, Spring 2021, Spring 2023

237 Financial Globalization, Growth and Crises

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

Requisite: ECON 111/111E. Limited to 30 students. Not available to students who have taken ECON 435. Fall semester. Professor Honig.

2021-22: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2010, Fall 2010, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Spring 2016, Spring 2020, Fall 2020

250 Money, Banking, and Economic Activity

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 25 students. Fall and spring semesters. Professor Khan. 

2021-22: Offered in Fall 2021, Spring 2022
Other years: Offered in Fall 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Fall 2022

262 Development Economics

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. Spring semester. Professor Gebresilasse.

2021-22: Offered in Spring 2022
Other years: Offered in Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Fall 2022

275 Consumption and the Pursuit of Happiness

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. Spring semester. Professor Barbezat.

2021-22: Offered in Spring 2022
Other years: Offered in Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2011, Spring 2015

290, 390, 490, 490H Special Topics

Independent reading course. Full course.

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

2021-22: Offered in Fall 2021, Spring 2022
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Fall 2022, Spring 2023

300 Microeconomics

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

Requisite: MATH 111, or equivalent and at least a "B" grade in ECON 111/111E or a "B-" in ECON 200–290, or equivalent.

Fall semester: Limited to 50 students. Professor Baisa

Spring semester: Limited to 50 students. Professor Kingston.

2021-22: Offered in Fall 2021, Spring 2022
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Spring 2008, Fall 2008, Spring 2009, Fall 2009, Spring 2010, Fall 2010, Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Fall 2022, Spring 2023

301 Advanced Microeconomics

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

Requisite: At least a "B" grade in ECON 111/111E or a "B-" grade in ECON 200–290, or equivalent, and MATH 211 or equivalent, or consent of the instructor. Limited to 20 students. Fall semester. Professor Baisa.

2021-22: Offered in Fall 2021
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2019, Fall 2020, Fall 2021, Spring 2023

330 Macroeconomics

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

Requisite: Math 111 or equivalent and at least a "B" grade in ECON 111/111E or a "B-" in ECON 200–290, or equivalent. 

Fall semester: Limited to 50 students. Professor Barbezat.

Spring semester: Limited to 50 students. Professor Honig.

2021-22: Offered in Fall 2021, Spring 2022
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Spring 2008, Fall 2008, Spring 2009, Fall 2009, Spring 2010, Fall 2010, Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Fall 2022, Spring 2023

331 Advanced Macroeconomics

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

Requisite: At least a "B" grade in ECON 111/111E or a "B-" grade in ECON 200–290, or equivalent, and MATH 121 or equivalent, or consent of the instructor. Limited to 20 students. Spring semester. Professor Honig.

2021-22: Offered in Spring 2022
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2011, Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Spring 2016, Spring 2017, Spring 2018, Spring 2019, Spring 2020, Spring 2021, Spring 2023

360 Econometrics

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

Requisite: MATH 111, or equivalent and at least a "B" grade in ECON 111/111E or a "B-" in ECON 200–290, or equivalent. Fall and spring semesters.

Fall semester: Two sections limited to 25 students each. Professor Gebresilasse.

Spring semester: One section limited to 50 students. Professor Theoharides. 

 

2021-22: Offered in Fall 2021, Spring 2022
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Spring 2008, Fall 2008, Spring 2009, Fall 2009, Spring 2010, Fall 2010, Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Fall 2022, Spring 2023

361 Advanced Econometrics

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

Requisite: At least a "B" grade in ECON 111/111E or a "B-" grade in ECON 200–290, or equivalent, and MATH 211 or equivalent, and STAT 111 or STAT 135 or equivalent. Limited to 20 students. Professor Ishii. Omitted 2021-22.

2021-22: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2008, Spring 2010, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Spring 2014, Fall 2015, Spring 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2019, Fall 2020, Fall 2022

407 Advanced Behavioral Economics

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 2021-22.

2021-22: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Spring 2023

410 Environment and Development

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. Spring semester. Professor Sims.

2021-22: Offered in Spring 2022

414 Urban Economics

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. Professor Ishii. Omitted 2021-22.

2021-22: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2016, Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Spring 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2022

416 Economics of Race and Gender

(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) and ECON 360/361 (Econometrics) or Consent of Instructor. Limited to 15 students. Fall semester. Professor Reyes. 

2021-22: Offered in Fall 2021
Other years: Offered in Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Fall 2022

419 Education and Inequality in the United States

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. Professor Hyman. Omitted 2021-22.

2021-22: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Spring 2023

420 Game Theory and Applications

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

Requisite: ECON 300 or 301 or consent of the instructor. Limited to 30 students. Fall semester. Professor Kingston.

2021-22: Offered in Fall 2021
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2019, Fall 2020, Fall 2021, Fall 2022

421 Education and Human Capital in Developing Economies

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 and spring semesters. Professor Theoharides.

2021-22: Offered in Spring 2022
Other years: Offered in Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Spring 2021

435 Topics in Open-Economy Macroeconomics

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

Requisite: ECON 330/331, or ECON 235/237 with consent of the instructor. Limited to 30 students. Fall semester. Professor Honig.

2021-22: Offered in Fall 2021
Other years: Offered in Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2019, Spring 2021, Fall 2021

453 Economics of Entrepreneurship

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. Professor Blackwood. Omitted 2021-22.

2021-22: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, January 2021, Fall 2022

470 Mechanism Design

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

Requisite: ECON 301 or 420, MATH 211. Limited to 15 students. Spring semester. Professor Baisa. 

2021-22: Offered in Spring 2022
Other years: Offered in Spring 2015, Spring 2018, Spring 2019

471 Economic History Seminar

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 2021-22.

2021-22: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2008, Spring 2010, Fall 2012, Fall 2014, Spring 2023

472 Economic Distribution and Growth from the Neolithic to the Modern Age

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. Spring semester. Professor Barbezat.

2021-22: Offered in Spring 2022
Other years: Offered in Spring 2021

479 Institutions and Governance

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

Requisite: ECON 420 or consent of the instructor. Limited to 15 students. Professor Kingston. Omitted 2021-22.

2021-22: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Spring 2011, Spring 2016, Spring 2018, Spring 2020, Spring 2023

498 Senior Departmental Honors Seminar

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 Reyes.

2021-22: Offered in Fall 2021, Spring 2022
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2019, Fall 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Fall 2022

499 Senior Departmental Honors Project

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

Requisite: ECON 498. Spring semester. The Department.

2021-22: Offered in Fall 2021, Spring 2022
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2011, Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Spring 2016, Spring 2017, Spring 2018, Spring 2019, Spring 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Spring 2023

Honors & Fellowships

Honors & Fellowships

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Economics

Professors Barbezat (Chair), Honig, Kingston, Reyes and Sims; Associate Professors Baisa and Ishii*; Assistant Professors Blackwood*, Debnam Guzman*, Gebresilasse, Hyman*, Theoharides, and White*; Visiting Assistant Professors Khan and Porter; Visiting Lecturer Georgiou.

*On leave 2021-22

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

In its simplest form, the economics major consists of a total of nine full-semester courses in economics. These courses include: (1) An Introduction to Economics (111/111E); (2) Three core theory courses in Microeconomics (300 or 301), Macroeconomics (330 or 331), and Econometrics (360 or 361); (3) At least five other courses in economics, usually electives numbered 200-290 or 400-490, at least one of which is numbered 400-490.

The following sections clarify the details of these requirements.

Declaring an Economics Major. It is recommended that students take several economics courses prior to adding the economics major. Students must attain a grade of B or better in ECON 111/111E or a grade of B- or better in an economics elective (numbered 200-290) before being allowed to add the economics major. Major declarations should occur by the end of sophomore year, or by the end of junior year at the latest. Major declarations may not be made in the senior year, except by petition in exceptional circumstances. To be considered for an exception to this rule, students must write to the department chair explaining the circumstances of the late declaration.

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

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

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

Departmental Honors Program. The economics department strongly encourages our majors to consider doing a senior honors thesis in economics. To be eligible to enter the honors program, a senior (or second-semester junior in an E Class) must satisfy several requirements. First, the student must have already completed Microeconomic Theory (ECON 300 or 301), Macroeconomic Theory (ECON 330 or 331) and Econometrics (ECON 360 or 361) with an average grade of 11.00 or higher. (For reference, conversion equivalents are A = 13, A- = 12, B+ = 11, B = 10, etc.) No exceptions to this rule will be allowed. Normally, all of these core courses must be taken at Amherst (see above re exceptional circumstances). Therefore, a student considering writing a thesis and intending to study abroad should plan their course of study carefully, in consultation with economics faculty. Second, to be eligible to enter the honors program, a student must also have already completed one upper-level elective numbered 400 to 490. One possible exception is for students who have studied abroad for their entire junior year and have, in that time, taken a rigorous upper-level economics course that is approved by the department as a substitute. Third, those students in the honors program must take at least two upper-level electives numbered 400 to 490 (rather than just one) during their time at Amherst. We strongly encourage students to take these earlier rather than later, as they provide wonderful opportunities to develop one’s thinking about possible honors research topics. Lastly, we recommend that students who intend to enter the honors program take the advanced core theory courses, gain some experience doing economic research, and talk to faculty about economic research.

All honors students enroll in ECON 498, the Senior Departmental Honors Seminar, in the fall semester of their senior year. Within ECON 498, however, there are two alternative paths. Most students will enroll in Section 1, a seminar/workshop that supports students in undertaking independent research for their honors projects. This will be supplemented by work with a preliminary faculty advisor. Students who have already formulated a strong research plan in consultation with a faculty member, usually by developing their ideas in a 400-level economics course, can enroll in Section 2, 3... (the section number depends on the faculty advisor). These students will work closely with a faculty advisor from the beginning of the fall semester to further develop their thesis. In addition, they may participate in aspects of Section 1 such as group presentations. All students, regardless of section, will be expected to submit and present to the department a final thesis proposal at the end of the fall semester.

In the spring semester, all students complete their honors essay under the guidance of an individual faculty advisor by enrolling in ECON 499. At the end of the spring semester, all students will submit their written honors essay to the department for evaluation and will make an oral presentation to the department discussing their work.

Both ECON 498 and 499 can both be counted towards the major total course requirement (ten courses for honors students). Successful completion of ECON 498 and 499 will serve to satisfy the comprehensive exam requirement in economics for honors students. We encourage all students to discuss the possibility of honors work with their advisor and any faculty members in economics.

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

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

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

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

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

In response to the COVID-19 situation, current senior majors who were full-time students in both Fall and Spring of 2020-2021 can graduate with one fewer economics course, for a total of 8 economics courses for non-thesis writers and 9 for thesis writers. All majors will still be required to take the core economics courses (Microeconomic Theory, Macroeconomic Theory, and Econometrics) and all majors still must take at least one 400 level course, and thesis students are still required to take at least two 400 level courses.

111 An Introduction to Economics

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

Requisite for all other courses in Economics.

Fall and spring semesters: 25 students per discussion section. The Department.

2021-22: Offered in Fall 2021, Spring 2022
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Spring 2008, Fall 2008, Spring 2009, Fall 2009, Spring 2010, Fall 2010, Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Fall 2022, Spring 2023

111E An Introduction to Economics with Environmental Applications

(Offered as ECON 111E and ENST 230) A study of the central problem of scarcity and of the ways in which micro and macro economic systems allocate scarce resources among competing ends and apportion goods produced among people. Covers the same material as ECON 111 but with special attention to the relationship between economic activity and environmental problems and to the application of micro and macroeconomic theory tools to analyze environmental issues. A student may not receive credit for both ECON 111 and ECON 111E. Two 80-minute and one 50-minute lecture/discussions per week.

Admission with consent of the instructor. Limited to 30 Amherst College students. Fall and spring semesters. Professor Sims. 

2021-22: Offered in Fall 2021, Spring 2022
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Spring 2008, Fall 2008, Spring 2009, Fall 2009, Spring 2010, Fall 2010, Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Fall 2022, Spring 2023

207 Economics and Psychology

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 25 students. Professor Debnam Guzman. Omitted 2021-22.

2021-22: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Spring 2021, Spring 2023

210 Environmental and Natural Resource Economics

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 from an economic standpoint.

Requisite: ECON 111 or 111E. Limited to 30 students. Professor Sims. 

2021-22: Offered in Fall 2021
Other years: Offered in Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2011, Fall 2012, Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Spring 2016, Spring 2019, Fall 2021

211 AntiRacist AntiEconomics

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 22 students. Spring semester. Professor Reyes.

2021-22: Offered in Spring 2022
Other years: Offered in Spring 2023

212 Public Economics: Environment, Health, and Inequality

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. Spring semester. Professor Reyes.

2021-22: Offered in Spring 2022
Other years: Offered in Fall 2019, Spring 2021

214 Health Economics and Policy

Health care poses many pressing questions: Why do we spend so much on health care? Does this spending actually produce better health? How do health care institutions function? What is the appropriate role of government? How are we to judge the efficiency and equity of health care policy? By applying economic analysis to health, health care, and health care markets, health economics provides insight into these questions. In the first section of this course, we will assess the role of health care in the economy and apply economic models to the production of health and health care. In the second section of the course, we will study the structure of health care markets and the roles of key institutions. In the third section of the course, we will investigate the role of government and use our acquired knowledge to understand and evaluate health care policy and reform. Throughout this analysis, we will pay careful attention to the nature of health care markets, the anatomy of market failures, and the implications for public policy. Empirical results, current issues, and public policies will be discussed throughout the course. In addition to 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. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Reyes.

2021-22: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2017, Spring 2019, Fall 2020

218 The Economics of Inequality in the United States

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. Professor Hyman. Omitted 2021-22.

2021-22: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2019, Spring 2021, Fall 2022

220 Public Choice

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.

January-term courses will be offered remotely.

Requisite: ECON 111 or equivalent. Limited to 30 students. January term. Professor Kingston.

2021-22: Offered in January 2022, Spring 2022
Other years: Offered in Spring 2020, January 2021, January 2022, Spring 2023

223 The Economics of Migration

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

Requisite: ECON 111/111E or equivalent. Limited to 30 students. Fall semester. Professor Theoharides.

2021-22: Offered in Fall 2021
Other years: Offered in Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2019, Fall 2021

224 Introduction to Economic Networks

The modern era has seen an explosive growth in the interconnectedness of individuals and groups. From social networks facilitating the decentralized exchange of enormous amounts of information to the increasingly complex patterns of loans among financial institutions, the ties that connect agents are an important factor to consider for nearly any policy maker. Networks, collections of objects which are connected by links, have become increasingly prevalent in modern economic research due, in part, to their ability to bridge microeconomic behavior and aggregate patterns in a population. A departure from more traditional applications of networks as modeling physical systems to a more abstract framework capturing the relationships between autonomous agents adds a layer of complexity to the analysis that is well-suited for tools from economics, and in particular game theory. Broadly speaking, this course will explore how the structure of connections between individuals affects, and is affected by, the economic incentives of those individuals. We will begin with an introduction to graphs, and then turn to specific applications of networks within economics. We will discuss networked markets featuring intermediaries between buyers and sellers, the structure of information networks and internet economics, applications to sponsored search, centrality measures for influence, and end with models of cascades and innovation in networks and how the structure of a network affects the likelihood of a cascade.

Requisite: ECON 111/111E or equivalent. Limited to 35 students. Fall and Spring semesters. Professor Porter.

2021-22: Offered in Fall 2021, Spring 2022
Other years: Offered in Fall 2021, Fall 2022, Spring 2023

225 Industrial Organization

This course examines the determinants of and linkages between market structure, firm conduct, and industrial performance. Some of the questions that will be addressed include: Why do some markets have many sellers while others have only 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. Professor Ishii. Omitted 2021-22.

2021-22: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Spring 2011, Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2016, Spring 2018, Spring 2019, Spring 2020, Spring 2021, Spring 2023

237 Financial Globalization, Growth and Crises

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

Requisite: ECON 111/111E. Limited to 30 students. Not available to students who have taken ECON 435. Fall semester. Professor Honig.

2021-22: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2010, Fall 2010, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Spring 2016, Spring 2020, Fall 2020

250 Money, Banking, and Economic Activity

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 25 students. Fall and spring semesters. Professor Khan. 

2021-22: Offered in Fall 2021, Spring 2022
Other years: Offered in Fall 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Fall 2022

262 Development Economics

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. Spring semester. Professor Gebresilasse.

2021-22: Offered in Spring 2022
Other years: Offered in Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Fall 2022

275 Consumption and the Pursuit of Happiness

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. Spring semester. Professor Barbezat.

2021-22: Offered in Spring 2022
Other years: Offered in Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2011, Spring 2015

290, 390, 490, 490H Special Topics

Independent reading course. Full course.

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

2021-22: Offered in Fall 2021, Spring 2022
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Fall 2022, Spring 2023

300 Microeconomics

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

Requisite: MATH 111, or equivalent and at least a "B" grade in ECON 111/111E or a "B-" in ECON 200–290, or equivalent.

Fall semester: Limited to 50 students. Professor Baisa

Spring semester: Limited to 50 students. Professor Kingston.

2021-22: Offered in Fall 2021, Spring 2022
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Spring 2008, Fall 2008, Spring 2009, Fall 2009, Spring 2010, Fall 2010, Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Fall 2022, Spring 2023

301 Advanced Microeconomics

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

Requisite: At least a "B" grade in ECON 111/111E or a "B-" grade in ECON 200–290, or equivalent, and MATH 211 or equivalent, or consent of the instructor. Limited to 20 students. Fall semester. Professor Baisa.

2021-22: Offered in Fall 2021
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2019, Fall 2020, Fall 2021, Spring 2023

330 Macroeconomics

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

Requisite: Math 111 or equivalent and at least a "B" grade in ECON 111/111E or a "B-" in ECON 200–290, or equivalent. 

Fall semester: Limited to 50 students. Professor Barbezat.

Spring semester: Limited to 50 students. Professor Honig.

2021-22: Offered in Fall 2021, Spring 2022
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Spring 2008, Fall 2008, Spring 2009, Fall 2009, Spring 2010, Fall 2010, Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Fall 2022, Spring 2023

331 Advanced Macroeconomics

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

Requisite: At least a "B" grade in ECON 111/111E or a "B-" grade in ECON 200–290, or equivalent, and MATH 121 or equivalent, or consent of the instructor. Limited to 20 students. Spring semester. Professor Honig.

2021-22: Offered in Spring 2022
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2011, Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Spring 2016, Spring 2017, Spring 2018, Spring 2019, Spring 2020, Spring 2021, Spring 2023

360 Econometrics

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

Requisite: MATH 111, or equivalent and at least a "B" grade in ECON 111/111E or a "B-" in ECON 200–290, or equivalent. Fall and spring semesters.

Fall semester: Two sections limited to 25 students each. Professor Gebresilasse.

Spring semester: One section limited to 50 students. Professor Theoharides. 

 

2021-22: Offered in Fall 2021, Spring 2022
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Spring 2008, Fall 2008, Spring 2009, Fall 2009, Spring 2010, Fall 2010, Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Fall 2022, Spring 2023

361 Advanced Econometrics

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

Requisite: At least a "B" grade in ECON 111/111E or a "B-" grade in ECON 200–290, or equivalent, and MATH 211 or equivalent, and STAT 111 or STAT 135 or equivalent. Limited to 20 students. Professor Ishii. Omitted 2021-22.

2021-22: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2008, Spring 2010, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Spring 2014, Fall 2015, Spring 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2019, Fall 2020, Fall 2022

407 Advanced Behavioral Economics

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 2021-22.

2021-22: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Spring 2023

410 Environment and Development

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. Spring semester. Professor Sims.

2021-22: Offered in Spring 2022

414 Urban Economics

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. Professor Ishii. Omitted 2021-22.

2021-22: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2016, Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Spring 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2022

416 Economics of Race and Gender

(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) and ECON 360/361 (Econometrics) or Consent of Instructor. Limited to 15 students. Fall semester. Professor Reyes. 

2021-22: Offered in Fall 2021
Other years: Offered in Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Fall 2022

419 Education and Inequality in the United States

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. Professor Hyman. Omitted 2021-22.

2021-22: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Spring 2023

420 Game Theory and Applications

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

Requisite: ECON 300 or 301 or consent of the instructor. Limited to 30 students. Fall semester. Professor Kingston.

2021-22: Offered in Fall 2021
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2019, Fall 2020, Fall 2021, Fall 2022

421 Education and Human Capital in Developing Economies

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 and spring semesters. Professor Theoharides.

2021-22: Offered in Spring 2022
Other years: Offered in Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Spring 2021

435 Topics in Open-Economy Macroeconomics

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

Requisite: ECON 330/331, or ECON 235/237 with consent of the instructor. Limited to 30 students. Fall semester. Professor Honig.

2021-22: Offered in Fall 2021
Other years: Offered in Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2019, Spring 2021, Fall 2021

453 Economics of Entrepreneurship

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. Professor Blackwood. Omitted 2021-22.

2021-22: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, January 2021, Fall 2022

470 Mechanism Design

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

Requisite: ECON 301 or 420, MATH 211. Limited to 15 students. Spring semester. Professor Baisa. 

2021-22: Offered in Spring 2022
Other years: Offered in Spring 2015, Spring 2018, Spring 2019

471 Economic History Seminar

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 2021-22.

2021-22: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2008, Spring 2010, Fall 2012, Fall 2014, Spring 2023

472 Economic Distribution and Growth from the Neolithic to the Modern Age

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. Spring semester. Professor Barbezat.

2021-22: Offered in Spring 2022
Other years: Offered in Spring 2021

479 Institutions and Governance

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

Requisite: ECON 420 or consent of the instructor. Limited to 15 students. Professor Kingston. Omitted 2021-22.

2021-22: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Spring 2011, Spring 2016, Spring 2018, Spring 2020, Spring 2023

498 Senior Departmental Honors Seminar

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 Reyes.

2021-22: Offered in Fall 2021, Spring 2022
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2019, Fall 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Fall 2022

499 Senior Departmental Honors Project

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

Requisite: ECON 498. Spring semester. The Department.

2021-22: Offered in Fall 2021, Spring 2022
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2011, Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Spring 2016, Spring 2017, Spring 2018, Spring 2019, Spring 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Spring 2023