A seminar preparing senior economics majors to undertake independent research for their honors projects. Five or six topics of current interest will be studied. The course is designed to help you learn how to do original research in economics. It will help you develop an idea for your thesis, and begin the process of researching and refining that idea. During the semester, you will critique previous research, learn about research methods, and develop your own research proposal. You will be asked to engage in thoughtful and careful reading and discussion of your own and others’ research. By the end of the semester, you will have developed a thesis proposal that will clearly state the question you will address, survey the primary research done in this area, and outline your approach. Requisites: An average grade of 11.00 or higher in Economics 300/301, 330/331, and 360/361.
Health care poses many pressing questions: Why do we spend so much on health care? Does this spending actually produce better health? How do health care institutions function? What is the appropriate role of government? How are we to judge the efficiency and equity of health care policy? By applying economic analysis to health, health care, and health care markets, health economics provides insight into these questions. In the first section of this course, we will assess the role of health care in the economy and apply economic models to the production of health and health care. In the second section of the course, we will study the structure of health care markets and the roles of key institutions. In the third section of the course, we will investigate the role of government and use our acquired knowledge to understand and evaluate health care policy and reform. Throughout this analysis, we will pay careful attention to the nature of health care markets, the anatomy of market failures, and the implications for public policy. Empirical results, current issues, and public policies will be discussed throughout the course. In addition to technical problems and economic analyses, students will be asked to write analytical papers and participate actively in the discussion of current economic research and public policy. Requisite: Economics 111. Recommended: any one of Microeconomics (Econ 300/301), Econometrics (Econ 360/361), or Statistics (Math 130). Limited to 35 students. Offered Spring 2015. Professor Reyes.
The field of applied microeconomics (“applied micro”) is a fundamentally outward-looking branch of economics. Applied microeconomists take economic theories and methodologies out into the world in order to apply them to interesting questions of individual behavior and societal outcomes. This upper-level seminar will start with an overview of the field and its methodologies, followed by foundational material in economic theory and econometric identification. We will then address substantive areas such as environmental effects on health, the fetal origins hypothesis, and the economics of crime, gender, and race. Most of the course will be devoted to close reading of research papers, including discussion of the relative merits of particular theoretical and empirical methodologies. Students will participate actively in class discussion, engage with cutting-edge research, make oral presentations, evaluate empirical data, and write analytical papers. Requisite: Microeconomics (Econ 300/301) and Econometrics (Econ 360/361). Limited to 18 students. Offered Fall 2014. Professor Reyes.
This is an upper-level seminar in social policy which examines a number of social programs in the United States, including Medicaid, the Earned Income Tax Credit, and Temporary Aid to Needy Families. The seminar will introduce you to the operation of these programs and will teach you how to use economic and econometric tools to evaluate them. Most of the course will be devoted to close reading and discussion of research papers, including discussion of the relative merits of various empirical and econometric techniques. Students will be asked to participate actively in class discussion, to make oral presentations, to evaluate empirical data, and to write analytical papers. Throughout the course, we will think broadly about the goals of social policy, always keeping the canonical tradeoff between efficiency and equity at the forefront. We will also consider the practical challenges faced not only by policymakers in designing effective policies but also by scholars in evaluating the effectiveness of those policies. Requisite: Microeconomics (Econ 300/301) and Econometrics (Econ 360/361). Limited to 18 students. Offered Spring 2015. Professor Reyes.
This course develops the tools of modern microeconomic theory and notes their applications to matters of utility and demand; production functions and cost; pricing of output under perfect competition, monopoly oligopoly, etc.; pricing of productive services; intertemporal decision-making; the economics of uncertainty; efficiency, equity, general equilibrium; externality and public goods. A student may not receive credit for both Economics 300 and 301. Requisite: A grade of B or better in Economics 111 or a grade of B- or better in Economics 200-299 (a lower level elective), and Math 111 or equivalent.
A study of the central problem of scarcity and of the ways in which the U.S. economic system allocates scarce resources among competing ends and apportions the goods produced among people. Each section is limited to 22 Amherst College students.
Public Finance examines the role that the government plays in the economy. We will discuss the role of government in the allocation of resources, including efficiency and equity arguments for government intervention, as well as economic theories of government decision making. Topics include welfare economics, the evaluation of public expenditures, and taxation. The course addresses many current public policy issues, including environmental policy, health policy, expenditure programs for the poor, social security, and tax reform. Requisite: Economics 111. Limited to 50 students. Omitted.