Economics Course Descriptions
- Introduction to Economic Analysis
Full course for one semester. The course analyzes the important economic issues and problems arising in the functioning of economic systems, with particular attention to the private enterprise economy. These include scarcity of resources, the opportunity cost of alternative resource allocation choices, the existence and importance of gains from exchange, the welfare implications of competition and monopoly, the causes of unemployment and inflation, the functioning and malfunctioning of monetary and fiscal institutions, and the requisites for and obstacles to economic growth. Lecture-conference-laboratory.
- Collectivization and De-collectivization in the People’s Republic of China
Full course for one semester. This class will examine processes of collectivization and de-collectivization in the People's Republic of China, focusing on the 1950s and 1980s respectively. We will examine primarily the agricultural sector and consider the two-way nature of the transition—from a system of private ownership to collective—and the subsequent retreat to decentralization. This approach will facilitate contrasts and comparisons of the organizational changes experienced by the economy and its participants during each of the two decades under study. We will seek to understand the interests of various stakeholders, their subsequent roles in promoting or resisting the changes, and finally how various societal groups were affected. Among the materials we consider will be narrative accounts from various perspectives in addition to secondary sources that analyze the transition processes and their outcomes. Conference. Not offered 2006-07.
- Survey of Econometric Methods
Full course for one semester. An introduction to applications of empirical methods in economics. Students are introduced to the nature and sources of economic data and basic concepts of statistics and econometrics. Topics include the estimation of econometric models, hypothesis testing, and forecasting. Emphasis is placed on the use of these techniques in empirical economic literature. Prerequisite: Economics 201. Lecture-conference.
- Theory and Practice of Econometrics
Full course for one semester. An introduction to the statistical methods commonly used in economic research. Classroom development of theoretical material is combined with extensive hands-on practice of econometric techniques. Statistical methods discussed include estimation and inference in simple and multiple linear regression models, detection and correction of autocorrelation and heteroskedasticity, time-series models and distributed lags, and estimation of systems of simultaneous equations. Considerable emphasis is placed on learning to specify, implement, and evaluate tests of economic hypotheses. Prerequisites: Economics 201 and Mathematics 141 or similar introduction to statistics, or consent of the instructor. Lecture-conference.
- Microeconomic Theory
Full course for one semester. This course provides a thorough exposition of neoclassical theories of producer and consumer behavior. Considerable attention is devoted to understanding the economic concept of efficiency and demonstrating the efficiency of competitive equilibrium in a general equilibrium framework. The efficiency of market outcomes under alternative assumptions is also examined, and some time is devoted to discussing social choice theory and the limits of the market. Prerequisites: Economics 201 and Mathematics 111, or consent of the instructor. Lecture-conference.
- Macroeconomic Theory
Full course for one semester. A detailed introduction to modern theories of economic growth and business cycles. Emphasizes the derivation of relationships among aggregate variables from assumptions about the behavior of households and firms. Examines empirical evidence for and against macroeconomic theories. Lab session focuses on applying macroeconomic analysis through solving theoretical problems and performing empirical projects using macroeconomic data. Prerequisites: Economics 201 and Mathematics 111, or consent of the instructor. Lecture-conference-laboratory.
- Game Theory
Full course for one semester. This course studies strategic behavior in multiperson games. We study various classes of games, including static and dynamic games as well as those of complete and incomplete information. We also consider various solution concepts, including iterated elimination of dominant strategies, Nash equilibrium, and evolutionary stability. Numerous refinements of the Nash equilibrium concept, including sub-game perfect Nash equilibrium, Bayesian Nash equilibrium, and perfect Bayesian equilibrium, are also considered. There will be a heavy emphasis on the application of game theory to the study of the real world. We apply game theory to the study of competition, the commons, bargaining, auctions, conventions, institutions, and political decision-making. Prerequisite: Economics 201, Mathematics 111, or the equivalent. Lecture-conference.
- American Economic History
Full course for one semester. This course introduces the student to the economic history of the United States from colonial times to the present. Emphasis is placed on understanding the sources of economic growth and key developments in the historical economy, especially institutional change. Topics to be covered include colonial markets for labor and land, technological change, the growth of big business and regulation, labor and capital market integration, immigration and internal migration, standards of living, and the Great Depression. Prerequisite: Economics 201. Economics 311 or Economics 312 recommended. Conference.
- History of Economic Thought
Full course for one semester. This course considers the development
of economic thought by focusing on several crucial issues that
economics has addressed throughout history, including resource
scarcity, the sources of economic growth, the role of government in
a market economy, and the effects of international trade. We focus
primarily on the development of economic thought between 1770 and
1940. Reading comes from the works of Smith, Malthus, Ricardo,
Mill, Marx, Marshall, Keynes, and Schumpeter. Prerequisite:
Economics 201. Conference. Not offered 2005-06.
- Monetary and Fiscal Policy
Full course for one semester. A study of classical and contemporary monetary theory, the structure and operation of private and public monetary and financial institutions, and the techniques and objectives of monetary and fiscal policy. Contemporary policy problems emphasized include maintenance of full employment and economic growth, prevention of inflation, and economic stabilization. Prerequisite: Economics 201. Conference.
- International Macroeconomics
Full course for one semester. This course examines the macroeconomic linkages between countries. The core of macroeconomic theory is extended to the open economy. In this context, a number of issues are addressed, including currency crises, international policy coordination, and the choice of an exchange rate regime. Illustrations come from the European monetary union, the recent Southeast Asian financial crises, the U.S. current account deficit, and the stabilization policies of Latin America. Prerequisite: Economics 201. Conference.
- European Economic History
Full course for one semester. This course studies the economic history of Europe between 1500 and 1950. Emphasis is placed on understanding the sources of economic growth, especially technological and institutional progress, and key developments in the historical economy. Topics to be covered include the pre-modern European economy, the Industrial Revolution, standards of living, the demographic revolution, the Gold Standard, migration and immigration, the Great Depression, and the convergence of growth. Prerequisite: Economics 201. Economics 311 or 312 recommended. Conference.
- Economics of the Public Sector
Full course for one semester. This course considers the role of government in the economy. We examine the theoretical rationale for government intervention in the economy and the economic consequences of such government intervention, with examples coming primarily from the United States. In addition, the course studies how taxation affects economic efficiency, income distribution, capital formation, and microeconomic incentives. Major topics include environmental regulation, publicly funded education, welfare, social security, health care, tax reform, and international public finance. Prerequisite: Economics 201. Conference.
- Environmental Economics
Full course for one semester. This course presents an economic analysis of environmental issues and policies. We will examine the impact of the economy on the environment, the importance of the environment to the economy, and how policies such as transferable permits, subsidies, taxes, and regulations affect the environment and economy. Concepts covered in this course include static efficiency, equity, property rights, discounting, cost-benefit analysis, risk and uncertainty, market failure, non-market valuation techniques, and sustainability. Prerequisite: Economics 201. Conference.
- Natural Resource Economics
Full course for one semester. This course presents an economic analysis of renewable and nonrenewable natural resources. Concepts introduced include static and dynamic efficiency, equity, property rights, discounting, market failure, non-market valuation, and sustainability. The course will cover current and proposed policies for resource management such as transferable quotas, taxes, subsidies, regulations, and public versus private ownership. Prerequisite: Economics 201 and Math 111 or consent of instructor. Conference. Not offered 2006-07.
- Economics of Science and Technology
Full course for one semester. An introduction to the economics of growth, innovation, and technological change in industrialized market economies. The neoclassical growth model is used as a theoretical basis for exploring empirical studies measuring the causes of economic growth. The causes and nature of innovative activity, as well as its effect on technological progress, are explored. Issues of appropriability and diffusion of technology are addressed. Industry and country studies are used to gauge the effect of technological change on economic performance. Prerequisite: Economics 201. Conference. Not offered 2006-07.
- Industrial Organization
Full course for one semester. In this course we study imperfect competition and the policy responses to it that economists often prescribe. These responses generally fall into two categories: regulation and antitrust. We will introduce models to explain and predict firm behavior, and apply them to the telecommunications, electricity, airlines, and computer industries, among others. Topics include natural monopoly, optimal and actual regulatory mechanisms, deregulation, mergers, predatory pricing, and monopolization. Prerequisite: Economics 201. Conference.
- Economics of Labor
Full course for one semester. Analysis of the labor force and labor market dynamics in the U.S. and other industrialized countries. Topics include labor supply, labor demand, wage setting and wage differentials, unemployment, labor market implications of government policy (such as welfare reform, affirmative action, and immigration policy), collective bargaining, and alternative forms of worker representation. Discussion is focused on the statistical regularities observed within and across countries with respect to labor market outcomes, the theoretical models that have been advanced to explain these regularities, and the implications for policy of the empirical and theoretical findings. Prerequisite: Economics 201. Conference. Not offered 2006-07.
- Economics of Population, Gender, and Race
Full course for one semester. This course will consider race and gender as they influence and are reflected in decisions about schooling, work, and family. It will also examine trends in population and consider how and why they might change over time. We will use microeconomic models of fertility, migration, decisions to work, and decisions to invest in human capital in an effort to analyze and explain observed outcomes. Drawing on well-established literatures in the fields of labor economics and economic demography to provide frameworks for our discussions, we will consider the theoretical and empirical findings in light of their potential contributions to policy. Prerequisite: Economics 201. Conference.
- Law and Economics
Full course for one semester. Applications of microeconomic theory focused on common law and the legal system. Topics include the effect of the legal system on resource allocation, the establishment and scope of property rights, allocation of risk and efficient investments in precaution, product liability, and an economic analysis of criminal behavior and punishment. Prerequisite: Economics 201. Conference.
- Economics of Development
Full course for one semester. The economic problems and policy concerns of poor countries with applications of economic analysis to explain and understand observed outcomes. Substantial attention is paid to the structure and the decisions of households in developing countries with supplemental focus on the market and non-market environments under which they operate, including their access to land, credit, and insurance, as well as their labor employment opportunities. Additional topics include population growth and its determinants, the role of technology, inequality and poverty, structural change, and trade and globalization. Case studies are used to motivate and illustrate the theories discussed. Prerequisite: Economics 201. Conference. Not offered 2006-07.
- International Trade
Full course for one semester. This course analyzes the causes and consequences of international trade. The theory of international trade and the effects of trade policy tools are developed in both perfect and imperfect competition, with reference to the empirical evidence. This framework serves as a context for a discussion of several important issues: the effect of trade on income inequality, the relationship between trade and the environment, the importance of the World Trade Organization, strategic trade policy, the role of trade in developing countries, and the effects of free trade agreements. Prerequisite: Economics 201. Conference.
- Asian Economies in Transition
Full course for one semester. The course will consider processes of transition from planned to market-based economic systems. We will take a sectoral approach, taking note of variation observed across countries in policy objective, design, implementation, and outcome. Among the sectors we will consider are industry, agriculture, banking and finance, foreign trade and investment, and the public sector. While China and Vietnam, in particular, will offer an abundance of evidence for us to examine, we will also take into account the reform experiences of other Asian countries when relevant source materials are available. Prerequisite: Economics 201. Conference. Not offered 2006-07.
- Contemporary Topics in Economics
One-half course for one semester. A detailed examination of a topic of current theoretical or policy interest. The course may be repeated when topics vary, up to a maximum of one unit of credit. Prerequisite(s) will vary according to topic; they will be announced in the class schedule. This course may not be used for Group B or divisional requirements. The topics for 2006-07 are:
This is a research methods course highly recommended for economics majors. The objective of the course is to prepare students to undertake thesis research in their senior year. Among other things, the course will prepare students to identify interesting research questions, to locate data, and to use the library’s electronic and print resources. At the end of the course, students will be expected to complete a thesis proposal including a statement of a research question, a literature review, a description of the data they intend to use, and a short bibliography. Prerequisite: Economics 313 or Economics 314. Conference.
This course studies the forces and actors that influence current trends in globalization–including firms and their foreign investment or outsourcing decisions, geography, information, and immigration. The class will first examine how information and geography help condition the integration of international markets. The next topic of study examines how multinationals decide to serve international markets. The class will also study the effects of firm decisions on host and home economies, including the effects on wages, productivity, and country use of protectionist measures. Prerequisite: Economics 383 or Economics 313. Conference.
- Economics of Reed College
Full course for one semester. This course examines the economics of undergraduate education, focusing on issues of relevance to Reed College and using Reed as a case study. Elements of institutional revenue and cost streams are analyzed. Among the specific topics considered are: measurement of the inputs, outputs, and productivity of institutions; economic returns from higher education, especially at selective liberal arts colleges; the demand for higher education in general and for liberal arts colleges in particular; the effects of need-based and merit-based financial aid on demand; fundraising and management of endowment resources; the market for faculty and models of faculty salaries and benefits; internal allocation of resources among academic and administrative departments; funding and maintenance of the physical plant; and the economics of residence halls, food service, and other non-academic aspects of higher education. Prerequisite: Economics 201 and one additional course in economics, or consent of instructor. Conference. Not offered 2006-07.
- Economic Growth
Full course for one semester. Topics include theoretical analysis of the roles of population growth, capital accumulation, and technological progress on economic growth; diminishing returns and neoclassical growth theory; human capital, nondiminishing returns, externalities, and modern growth theory. We will examine empirical evidence through growth accounting and cross-country econometric studies. Prerequisite: Economics 314 or consent of the instructor. Conference. Not offered 2006-07.
Full course for one year.
- Independent Reading
One-half or full course for one semester. Credit in proportion to
work done. Prerequisite: junior or senior standing.
Top of Page