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econ class econ class

Department Overview

Economic analysis can help us address such questions as:

  • What market failures cause environmental damage and what are the best policies to address this problem?
  • Is economic behavior rational, or do psychological factors introduce important irrational components?
  • What economic benefits and harms come from international trade?
  • Should the Federal Reserve try to keep the inflation rate near zero?
  • How should public spending programs in health and education be designed?
  • What are the drivers of economic growth in low-income countries?

Within a flexible program of practical relevance, Swarthmore's economics curriculum emphasizes analytical rigor, the use and interpretation of statistical evidence, and the development of sustained written arguments. Students develop a portable set of skills, making the economics major a pathway to a rich array of careers in business, law, journalism, public policy, government, and academics.

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Visible Hands in Economics

Department launches the "Visible Hands in Economics" (VHE) program. VHEs support student learning and engagement in introductory economics by performing traditional teaching-assistant duties in all sections of the course and hosting a new weekly study hall open to all students taking introductory economics. Pictured above, the first-ever cohort of VHEs: Chase Williamson '19, Deante Bryan '20, Katie Pruitt '20, Mirayda Martinez '20, Vanessa Jimenez-Read '20, Lauren Knudson '19 (VHE Program Student Coordinator), Emma Tapp '20, Lija Liu '20, Jeffrey Tse '19, Jessica Li '19, Jack Cote '20

Learn more about the Visible Hands in Economics

Lectures and Summer Seminar Series

During the academic year, we invite prominent external economists to campus to present their research and ideas to our students through public lectures.

Each summer, our Department hosts a seminar series where our faculty, and faculty from local colleges and universities, present their research.  Faculty frequently undertake these research projects with students.  Students engaged in research from Swarthmore, Bryn Mawr, and Haverford participate in the seminar.

Learn more about our lectures

Interview with emeritus Professor Robinson Hollister

In the spring of 2020, Eleanor Miller '22 interviewed emeritus Professor Robinson Hollister about his pioneering work with random assignment studies in economics and the trajectory of his long career.

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Department History

Maria Sanford taught Political Economy at Swarthmore College from 1872 to 1876. Click here, for a history of the Economics Department by Joshua Hausman, 2005.

Department History

Social Sciences Quantitative Laboratory

The Social Sciences Quantitative Laboratory at Swarthmore College develops students’ skills in quantitative analysis and comprehension.

Learn more