Economics is the study of how society uses its scarce resources. The goal of the department is to promote an understanding of the economic aspects of society and to develop each student’s ability to reason about economic issues—that is, to provide a basis for intelligent, responsible participation in modern society. The study of economics provides a background for careers in business and public service and a foundation for graduate study in economics, business, law, and public policy. The study of economics complements undergraduate or later graduate work in other social sciences or in history. Economics 111 introduces a student to the discipline. The courses numbered 205–250 consider important areas of applied economics at a level accessible to all students. The tools of economic analysis are systematically developed in intermediate theory courses (280, 282), which are recommended to all students who expect to make use of economics in their studies, careers, or avocations. Students should take one course numbered 205–250 before taking Economics 280 or 282; students who have already taken Economics 280 and 282 would not normally take courses numbered 205–250. Advanced analysis courses (those numbered 300–350) develop additional analytical capabilities, and seminar courses provide advanced applications of the discipline’s theoretical, empirical, and institutional insights. A student majoring in economics will find available complementary work in history, other social sciences, and mathematics (including statistics and computer science). Students will be expected to access data and to use spreadsheet and statistical software to analyze economics issues. Off-campus study provides an excellent opportunity to observe and analyze how economic choices are made in other societies.
A minimum of 8 four-credit economic courses. Required are: 1) Economics 111; 2) One of the following courses in empirical analysis:
- Economics 262 Empirical Methods in Economics
- Economics 312 Econometrics or
- Mathematics 336 Probability and Statistics II (Mathematics 336 does not count toward the minimum eight courses required in Economics)
3) Economics 280 and 282; 4) One economic tools course (numbered 300–350); 5) Two economic seminars; and 6) One history course above the 100-level from a list approved by the economics department, which does not count toward the eight-course minimum.
To be considered for honors in economics, graduating seniors, in addition to meeting the College’s general requirements for honors, must demonstrate to the department’s satisfaction that they have achieved depth and breadth in their course of study.
A survey of the basic concepts and methods of analysis used in economics. Application to such policy problems as economic recession, inflation, regulation of industry, poverty and income distribution, financial crises, pollution, and trade restrictions.
A study of current business conditions and key public policy problems in the United States. Analysis of the data reporting system and judgmental forecasting. Recent problems have included: inflation, the federal deficit, government regulation, energy, unemployment, and tax reform. Not intended for students who have taken Economics 282.
An investigation into the political economy of labor markets. Consideration given to traditional supply and demand interactions, relations of authority between employers and employees and their influence on productivity, internal labor markets, labor market segmentation, the role of unions, racial differences, gender differences, and the effects of international competition on U.S. labor markets. Not intended for students who have taken both Economics 280 and 282.
An examination and economic analysis of women’s changing economic status, primarily in the United States. Topics include wage differentials, occupational segregation, labor force participation, and family and work issues. This course also examines the interaction of race, gender, and class in determining economic status and policies for improving women’s economic options.
An introductory study of the Marxian analysis of capitalism. Readings include selections from the writings of Marx and Engels, as well as 20th-century Marxists.
Also listed as History 229. Development of the U.S. economy since colonial times. Contributions and limitations of economic analysis and quantitative methods in understanding the economy’s growth, industrialization, markets, railroads, the Revolution, slavery, greenback and silver controversies, the multinational monopoly, the New Deal, the Depression, and the impact of reforms on future international economic relations.
A survey of analytic approaches to the process of economic development in Asia, Africa, and Latin America, and an examination of their significant policy problems.
An introduction to international trade theory, balance of payments concepts, and exchange rate determination. Topics include events, international institutions, and policies that affect trade, foreign investment, economic stability, and growth. Not intended for students who have taken Economics 280 and 282.
Investigation of the economics of renewable and nonrenewable natural resources. Particular emphasis on the relationship between the biological and physical characteristics of particular resources and our economic choices. Consideration of selected current problems. Not intended for students who have taken Economics 280.
An analysis of how the U.S. financial system affects the level of economic activity. The course examines the impact of money and credit on the economy, the creation of money and credit in the financial system, and the role of monetary policy. Not intended for students who have taken either Economics 280 or 282.
The economic role of government in an economy. Topics include the determination of the size and economic function of government, expenditure decisions and budgeting, the incidence and distributional effects of various taxes, and issues in state and local finance. Not intended for students who have taken Economics 280.
This course covers basic descriptive statistics, sources and useful transformations of economic data, and the application of probability theory and statistical inference in bivariate and multiple regression frameworks. Students are expected to complete and present a term project based on their data analysis.
An examination of the theoretical underpinnings of the economic system. The objective is to develop a theoretical framework with which to investigate the economic behavior of individual consumers, firms, and resource owners.
Analysis of economic aggregates, primarily national income and employment, through a theoretical framework. While current and historical real world examples will be used to illustrate concepts, the primary goal is the development of general tools that enable students to understand the behavior of a macroeconomy.
The use of statistical techniques to estimate and test economic models. Topics include multiple regression, multicollinearity, serial correlation, heteroskedasticity, simultaneous equations, limited dependent variables, and time series/ forecasting.
A case-based introduction to the principles of financial and managerial accounting. Although this is a first course in accounting, the level of coverage is advanced. Students work in teams and are responsible for their own learning and the learning of their colleagues.
An intense examination of the basics of theory and practice in corporate financial management. An understanding of intermediate microeconomics and financial accounting and comfort with applied mathematics are essential for success in this course.
Game theory facilitates modeling strategic interaction among interdependent agents who share awareness of their interdependence. As such, it can generate analytical foundations for many relationships found in social and natural sciences. This course develops game theoretic modeling using visual representation and equations, with an emphasis on intuitive technique and direct application to examples primarily from economics and politics.
An introduction to mathematical models of economic behavior. Basic techniques in differential and integral calculus and linear algebra will be applied to a wide range of micro- and macroeconomic issues. Topics include comparative statics, optimization, and linear programming. Not open to those who have taken Economics 289.
This seminar familiarizes students with economic analysis applied to the health-care sector of the economy. Topics covered include problems such as escalating medical care costs, health care for the uninsured, Medicare and Medicaid reform, and national health insurance. Course includes an international comparison of health-care systems.
Analysis of labor markets in theory and practice. Topics include education, labor market structure, discrimination, labor unions, collective bargaining, income distribution, and unemployment.
This course will familiarize students with the theory and application of economics to environmental problems and prepare them to analyze issues in environmental economics and policy. It will focus on the design of cost- effective environmental policies and on methods for determining the value of environmental amenities.
This course begins with the premise that many economic interactions are “political” in the sense that coalitions of participants, whose interests may differ, can influence important outcomes. The course will explore tendencies toward competition, cooperation, and conflict, and their relationship to constraints imposed by the forces of supply and demand, as they operate in various institutional arenas, such as labor markets or the national economy. The course will examine relevant theories of incomplete contracting under conditions of imperfect information with some attention to game theory, and then apply these concepts to contemporary problems concerning employment, economic growth, and the distribution of income and wealth.
Processes of growth and change in developing societies. Both theoretical and empirical modes of analysis introduced in the literature covered. Topics chosen from among population growth, agricultural development, industrialization, investment in human capital vs. physical capital, the balanced-unbalanced growth controversy, noneconomic factors in development and underdevelopment.
International trade theory and policy. Explanations of the pattern of trade, possible gains from trade, effects on income distribution and trends over time. Import restrictions, export promotion, and strategic government intervention. Operations of multinational corporations, migration, trade blocs, WTO negotiations, and other current topics.
International financial relationships and macroeconomic policy. Financial markets, exchange rate determination, and the balance of payments. Trade balance adjustments, international capital flows, and domestic macroeconomic goals. Exchange rate regimes, currency blocs, debt crises, and other current topics.
Examination of the distribution of income and wealth in the United States, covering conflicting explanations of economic inequality and policy debates. Topics include economic trends affecting U.S. workers, racial and sexual inequality, and poverty.
This course considers the application of economic theory to the law and legal institutions, including property, contract, tort, and criminal law. We will investigate how legal rules influence economic incentives and the allocation of resources. Topics include liability and negligence assignment, uncertainty, allocation of property rights, bargaining, remedies, criminal deterrence, and the litigation process.
Analysis of how monetary and financial institutions affect the growth and stability of economies internationally. Examination of theoretical controversies and evidence about relations between money and the real sectors of economies, interactions between central banks, international monetary authorities, and currency flows, and financial aspects of the inflation process and economic stability. Study of the effects of current changes in financial intermediaries and structures.
An examination of the relationships between structure, conduct, and performance in the American economy. The seminar includes work with basic I/O theory, antitrust laws and litigation, industry studies, and alternative approaches to understanding corporate behavior in the American economy.
Education becomes increasingly important as the “information economy” replaces the old industrial economy. This course explores some questions that are global, others that are personal: is better education the solution to poverty? Is investment in human capital the key to a nation’s development? Can vouchers improve public schools? Is a Grinnell education a better investment than putting those thousands of tuition dollars into the stock market? Should you go to law school?
- College Catalog