New Courses

Fall 2014

ECON 065.  Health, Conflict, and Public Policy.

This course will delve into contemporary issues in health and conflict from an economics lens and will stress on implications for public policy. The first half of the course will deal with measurement of health outcomes, causes of poor health, and its impact on wages and wealth. It will investigate how inefficient delivery of health services by the government can cause a market failure. The second half of the course will provide an answer to "what happens when state institutions completely collapse and the government no longer has a monopoly over power?" It will discuss empirical regularities across countries that have been affected by conflict, consequences of wars for growth and investment, and the latest economics research on consequences of conflict for individuals, families and firms.
Prerequisite: Econ 001
1 credit
T TH 1:15-2:30, Science Center, Room L26

Prof. Prakarsh Singh (visitor from Amherst College)


Spring 2015

ECON 003A.  Environmental Policy and Economics

This course examines the role of government in the regulation of the environment from an economics perspective.  The course will introduce the basic tools used to compare the costs and benefits of improving environmental quality and the methods used in the valuation of environmental goods.  The last part of the course will focus on how government policies can be used to improve environmental outcomes..
No prerequisites.  Cannot be used to fulfill the ECON 001 prerequisite for further work in the Economics Dept.
1 credit.
Spring 2015.  Peck.

ECON 015. Economic Poverty and Inequality.

This course examines the causes and consequences of poverty and (income
and wealth) inequality. Topics covered include measurement, mobility,
and the impact of globalization, technical change, taxation, and aid.
Micro interventions and macro initiatives are contrasted. Public
policies and programs aimed at prevention, alleviation, and
redistribution are analyzed and evaluated. The developed and developing
country contexts are considered.
Prerequisite: Econ 001
1 credit
Spring 2015.  Jefferson.


ECON 050. Tracking the U.S. Economy.

The course focuses on the meanings, strengths, and weaknesses of the major macroeconomic indicators.  For example, how is unemployment measured, and for what reasons is the unemployment rate an imperfect gauge of the health of the economy and of how much hardship workers are experiencing in the labor market?  How is the unemployment rate affected by the demographic composition of the labor force at any particular time?  What are the advantages and disadvantages of the employment/population ratio compared with those of the unemployment rate as a labor market indicator?  How is employment measured, and why do different measures of employment sometimes paint different pictures of how the economy is doing?  How do the turning points for the employment and unemployment measures relate to the peak and trough turning points for the economy as a whole?  What are the weaknesses of GDP as an indicator of how the macroeconomy is performing?  What is chain-weighted GDP, and how is it an improvement over the traditional base-year method of calculating Real GDP?  Why do different inflation measures – the Consumer Price Index and the GDP Deflator – sometimes provide conflicting signals on how rapidly prices are rising?  Why does indexing someone’s income to the Consumer Price Index raise, rather than just maintain, the person’s standard of living?  What types of economic indicators act as leading indicators, rising and falling before the economy as a whole rises or falls, and how useful is an index of leading indicators as a forecasting tool?  How are lagging indicators used as a forecasting tool?
Prerequisite: Econ 001.
1 credit.
Spring 2015. Steinberg.