Economics Department

Courses

The following course descriptions are taken from the text of the Reed College catalog. Due to our desire to rotate courses, and to rotate faculty through certain courses, there are always some changes in scheduling and course instructors from year to year. You can assume that courses required for the major will be offered every year.

Economics 201 - Introduction to Economic Analysis

Full course for one semester. This course will introduce students to the analytical approaches and tools of the economics discipline, and how these are used to examine current issues and problems that arise in the functioning of economic systems. Microeconomic theories of consumption, production, and exchange provide much of the analytical framework that will be utilized, although we will also explore some relevant applications to the macroeconomy. A central feature of this course is the examination of markets and how they determine what is produced and how it is allocated. We also devote some attention to evaluating market outcomes, to thinking about remedies to resource allocation problems that markets cannot solve, and to thinking about the factors that determine long-run productive capacity and income potential. Lecture-conference.

Economics 304 - Intermediate Macroeconomics

Full course for one semester. A survey of basic theories of economic growth and business cycles using graphical and algebraic methods. Studies the relationships among aggregate economic variables such as GDP, inflation, interest rates, unemployment, and exchange rates. Analysis of macroeconomic policy issues. Prerequisite: Economics 201 or consent of instructor. Lecture-conference.

Economics 311 - 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.

Economics 312 - 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.

Economics 313 - 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.

Economics 314 - 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. Prerequisites: Economics 201 and Mathematics 111, or consent of the instructor. Lecture-conference.

Economics 315 - Game Theory

Full course for one semester. Game theory is the study of strategy. This course introduces students to game theory and its application in a wide range of situations. 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 and Nash equilibrium. Numerous refinements of the Nash equilibrium concept, including subgame perfect Nash equilibrium, Bayesian Nash equilibrium, and perfect Bayesian equilibrium, are also considered. We apply game theory to the study of competition, the commons, bargaining, auctions, conventions, institutions, and political decision-making. Prerequisite: Economics 201 and Mathematics 111, or the equivalent. Lecture-conference.

Economics 323 - 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. Topics to be covered include colonial markets for labor and land, the economics of slavery, and the Great Depression. Prerequisite: Economics 201. Economics 311 or 312 recommended. Lecture-conference.

Economics 328 - Latin America: Economic History and Policy Challenges

Full course for one semester. This course traces the economic development of Latin America from colonial times to the present. The first half of the course explores the economic history of Latin America, focusing on the creation of economic institutions that have shaped the growth and specific features of Latin American economies from the Spanish and Portuguese conquests through the second half of the twentieth century. Among the topics that will be studied in this part of the course are land property and reform, coercive labor institutions, development of export-oriented sectors, and the political economy of reform in the Latin American republics. The second part of the course examines current public policy issues such as crime, housing, inequality, and education from a microeconomic perspective. Prerequisite: Economics 201. Lecture-conference.

Economics 342 - 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 current account imbalances, the role of fiscal and monetary policy in an open economy, and the choice of an exchange rate regime. Illustrations come from the adoption and abandonment of the gold standard, the European monetary union, and financial crises both past and present. Prerequisite: Economics 201. Conference.

Not offered 2021–22.

Economics 343 - Behavioral Finance

Full course for one semester. This course will provide an introductory overview of the structure and operations of financial markets, basic theories of portfolio management, and how recent contributions from behavioral economics have improved our understanding of human decision-making within a social and highly interactive context. Students will learn about the basic functioning of financial markets in terms of trading, arbitraging, hedging, leveraging, etc.; their major products, like commodities, bonds, stock, options; and the basic theories of portfolio management and price formation. We will discuss how original theories have evolved to include contributions from behavioral economics about decision-making under risk and uncertainty, including behavioral biases. A discussion of price equilibria and the efficient market hypothesis will be combined with criticisms from behavioral finance on the existence of market bubbles and price anomalies, like the equity puzzle, herding, over-under reaction to new information, etc. The course will be mostly theoretical, but it will include occasional practical exercises in which students will gather actual financial data and perform simple corporate stock valuations. Prerequisite: Economics 201. Conference.

Not offered 2021–22.

Economics 344 - International Monetary Systems

Full course for one semester. This course explores the history and functioning of international monetary arrangements and economic relations from the nineteenth century to the present day. Topics include the operation of the gold standard, the Bretton Woods exchange rate regime, the collapse of this regime and the advent of flexible exchange rates, the implementation of the European monetary union, and recent exchange rate and financial crises experienced in Europe, Asia, and Latin America. Prerequisite: Economics 201. Conference.

Economics 348 - 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.

Not offered 2021–22.

Economics 351 - 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, nonmarket valuation techniques, and sustainability. Prerequisite: Economics 201. Conference.

Not offered 2021–22.

Economics 352 - 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, nonmarket 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. Conference.

Economics 358 - Urban Economics

Full course for one semester. In this course, the focus is on the city, in determining its costs and benefits as well as location and land use. We explore policy issues specific to local governments in urban areas, including zoning, housing and segregation, poverty, homelessness, transportation, education, and crime. Prerequisite: Economics 201. Conference.

Economics 362 - Industrial Organization

Full course for one semester. In a market economy, firms decide what and how much is produced. This course introduces the student to the study of firm behavior, providing a solid foundation on the core theory that explains firms’ incentives and market structures. We also explore real-world application of these concepts with an emphasis on the modern U.S. economy. Topics to be covered include perfect competition, monopoly, dynamic oligopoly and collusion, antitrust and mergers, and vertical relationships. Prerequisite: Economics 201 and Mathematics 111, or the equivalent. Lecture-conference.

Economics 364 - 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. Using microeconomic models of marriage, fertility, migration, labor supply, and human capital investment, we will analyze and try to explain observed trends. 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.

Not offered 2021–22.

Economics 366 - Jobs, Technology, and Trade

Full course for one semester. Investigation of the causes and consequences of changing patterns of labor demand. We will seek to understand how technological innovation and a rising volume of trade influence the structure of labor demand and the organization of the workplace. Effects on wage levels, wage inequality, and patterns of employment will be examined. The role of worker representation, in various forms, will be considered along with an analysis of factors that contribute to labor organizing efforts and outcomes. We will focus our attention on the U.S. labor market although comparative analysis with the experiences of other industrialized countries will enhance our understanding. Prerequisite: Economics 201. Conference.

Not offered 2021–22.

Economics 369 - Growth and Inequality

Full course for one semester. This course will examine the historical evolution of modeling economic growth and development. We will first survey theories of economic growth and the associated empirical evidence in order to understand inequality across countries. We will then examine policies, at both the macroeconomic and microeconomic level, aimed at alleviating poverty and improving the lives of individuals in developing economies. This course will conclude with a brief examination of inequality in developed countries, focusing on the sources and evolution of inequality in the United States. Prerequisite: Economics 201. Conference.

Economics 371 - 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 382 - Economics of Development

Full course for one semester. We consider the economic problems and policies of poor countries, with attention to the concept and measurement of economic development; human capital investments over the life cycle; gender and household decision-making; land, labor, credit, and insurance markets; inequality and development; the role of institutions and the state; and debates over the effectiveness of foreign aid. Factors and constraints influencing economic decision-making, including market failures and potential strategies for their resolution, are a recurring theme. Prerequisite: Economics 201. Conference.

Economics 383 - 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.

Not offered 2021–22.

Economics 385 - Asian Economies in Transition

Full course for one semester. This course will compare and contrast plan-to-market transition processes across several Asian countries noted for their economic size and significance, including China, Japan, and India. We will take a sectoral approach, noting variation in policy objective, design, implementation, and outcome. Among the sectors we will consider are agriculture, industry, banking and finance, foreign trade and investment, and the public sector. Our focus will be contemporary rather than historical, although the roles of initial conditions and historical legacies also are relevant to our discussions. Prerequisite: Economics 201. Conference.

Not offered 2021–22.

Economics 391 - Health Economics

Full course for one semester. This course is a survey of major topics in health economics with a focus on the United States and other developed countries. We will examine health behaviors, health services, and health outcomes through the lens of microeconomic theory. Much of the course will examine market failures in health and public policies designed to address them. Substantive topics include Medicaid, Medicare, obesity, smoking, alcohol, early life health conditions, domestic violence, and pollution. Prerequisite: Economics 201. Conference.

Not offered 2021–22.

Economics 392 - Health in Poor Countries

Full course for one semester. Poor health is one of the biggest problems facing poor people in poor countries. Diarrhea, HIV/AIDS, intestinal helminths, iodine deficiency, malaria, sleeping sickness, tuberculosis, vitamin A deficiency, and yellow fever are common problems in much of the developing world. These health problems reduce happiness directly, as well as indirectly through decreased cognitive and physical ability in productive activities. This course uses microeconomic and econometric tools to examine the causes and consequences of a few of these sources of poor health. Unlike a medical or public health approach to these topics, we will focus on behavioral aspects of these problems. Some of the questions we will explore include: How responsive is demand for health inputs to changes in the price of health inputs? How does economic activity affect health behavior? How does information affect health behavior? Prerequisite: Economics 201. Conference.

Not offered 2021–22.

Economics 393 - Global Health and Consumer Behavior

Full course for one semester. This course explores global health care, health outcomes, and health insurance markets from a consumer’s perspective. Students will apply health insurance theory to health care systems across the globe. We will read and discuss current literature about health phenomena and disease burdens in both developed and developing countries. Students will learn to analyze health behaviors from an economic perspective by, for example, evaluating how responsive demand for health inputs is to changes in the price of those inputs, exploring how information affects health behaviors, and determining the value of health insurance. Prerequisite: Economics 201. Lecture-conference.

Economics 470 - Thesis

Full course for one year.

Economics 481 - Independent Reading

One-half or full course for one semester. Credit in proportion to work done. Prerequisite: junior or senior standing.