Spring 2022 - 59465 - PA 393K - Applied Microeconomics for Policy Analysis

Applied Microeconomics for Policy Analysis

Scope and Objectives: This is a graduate level introduction to microeconomics. It has three organizing themes, one for a third of the semester: (1) neoclassical framework of rational choice, (2) logic for solutions to market failure, and (3) history of economic thoughts, institutional structure, and political decision making.

Students completing this course successfully will have acquired the basic logic of economic thinking, some experience in using this logic for policy analysis, and an appreciation of the limitation of the logic.

This course includes two components: classroom discourse and an independent research.

Classroom Discourse: The classroom component of the course is organized as:

  • Overview (two weeks) - big picture summary of history of economic thoughts, the basic logic of economic thinking, and the U.S. economic context.
  • The Neoclassical Story of the Market (six weeks)—neoclassical models of consumer choice, firm production, and market equilibrium.
  • Market Failure and Institutional Design (four weeks)—reasons for market failure, justification for policy interventions, and design of non-market approaches to address resource allocation and distribution.
  • Policy Analysis (three weeks)—use of economic logic to understand substantive real-life topics, taught by teams of class members.

Independent Research: The second component of the course is an independent research project on a topic conducive to economic analysis. Each class member chooses their own topic and complete research reading on their own, with guidance from the instructor as needed.

Learning Experiences: There will be five projects spread throughout the semester, covering the progress from (a) historical perspective to (b) mechanics of mathematical analysis of economic concepts to (c) more complex economic modeling and creative policy application.

  • Project 1: Analytic Problem-Solving Exercise (consumer choice theory)
  • Project 2: Analytic Problem-Solving Exercise (firm production theory)
  • Project 3: Friday Learning Experience (all issues in neoclassical logic)
  • Project 4: Policy Paper (topic of team research)
  • Project 5: Final Learning Experience (semester-wide coverage)

Expectation: Daily news-reading habit is required. Class members are asked to refrain from note-taking in class. Course Canvas site will be set up by mid-December, and a small amount of winter-break preparation materials should be completed before the beginning of the spring semester.

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