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Fall 2010 - 61180 - PA393K - Applied Microeconomics for Policy Analysis

Instructor(s): King, Christopher
Unique Number: 61180
Day & Time: W 2:00 - 5:00 pm
Room: SRH 3.122
Waitlist Information:For LBJ Students: UT Waitlist Information
Course Overview

This course covers microeconomic policy analysis and is usually taken during the first year. It acquaints students with the ways in which economic analysis bears on public policy issues. Students learn to identify the relevant economic analyses for their strengths and weaknesses in relation to the economic principles involved, and to comprehend and assess what professional economists can contribute to the public sector. The first portion of the course covers microeconomic theory with particular emphasis on determining price and output under perfect competition and other forms of market structure; general equilibrium and welfare theory; and the concept of market failure, including public goods, externalities, and imperfect market structure. The second portion of the course provides a rigorous coverage of the methodology of cost-benefit analysis and demonstrates its application through examination of specific case studies.

Section Description

Course Description/Objectives:  The primary purposes of this course are: 1) to provide students with little prior economics a thorough grounding in the principles of microeconomic theory and their applications to public policy issues and problems, 2) to foster teamwork skills in conducting policy analysis, and 3) to build and improve students’ communication skills. The course will be conducted through class lectures, student presentations and discussions, as well as an in-depth market-failure analysis. Student teams will present material and co-lead class sessions. A teaching assistant will be available during weekly office hours and by appointment and will lead regular review sessions. Theory and principles learned will be applied via problem sets, brief policy memos, in-class exercises and a market-failure analysis. Course completion should prepare students to perform advanced microeconomic policy analysis on the job and to pursue advanced study in related courses.

Course Requirements:
You are responsible for materials covered in class and all assigned readings. You are expected to participate in class discussions and to complete all assignments on time; late assignments will be downgraded automatically for each day late. Students are to prepare and present market-failure analyses in groups of 3 or 4 (max.). Final grades, using pluses and minuses (e.g., A, A-, B+), will be based on:

  • Class Presentations & Participation    20%
  • Problem Sets (3)    20%
  • Midterm Exam (1)    30%
  • Market-Failure Analysis    30%

Required Textbooks (available at Co-op East):

  • Edgar K. Browning & Mark A. Zupan, Microeconomic Theory and Applications, 8th Edition, New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 2004 (or other recent edition)
  • Rebecca M. Blank & William McGurn, Is the Market Moral? A Dialogue on Religion, Economics & Justice, Brookings Institution Press, 2004
  • Charles Wheelan, Naked Economics: Undressing the Dismal Science, New York: W.W. Norton, 2002