ECON 150 Applied Principles of Economics
What is economics? This course is intended for students who want to answer that question through exposure to the basic principles of economics. Students apply these principles to a variety of topics selected by the instructor, which may include climate change, income inequality, pandemics, patents, trademarks and copyrights, poverty, and social media. The course is also intended for prospective majors and prepares students for a wide range of core and upper-level elective economics courses.
ECON 216 Central Banking and the College Fed Challenge
Central banks play a critical role in modern economies, including conducting monetary policy and regulating many financial markets. This course examines the structure and practice of central banks such as the Federal Reserve. Special attention is paid to the motivation behind and implementation of monetary policies. The course fields a team of five to ten students to represent Bates at the College Fed Challenge in Boston during the semester, a competition in which groups of students make a presentation about monetary economics and field questions from economists. Prerequisite(s): ECON 103 or 150.
ECON 222 Environmental Economics and Policy
The preservation of environmental quality and the struggle of people to improve their economic circumstances are often in conflict. This course explores the economic basis of environmental problems and examines alternative policies aimed at reducing environmental degradation. Among the topics are the deficiencies in the market system and existing property-rights system that contribute to environmental problems, cases where public intervention offers the potential for improvement, cases amenable to market-based approaches, and the public-policy tools available to promote environmental goals. Prerequisite(s): ECON 101, 150, or 260.
ECON 223 Law and Economics
This course introduces the use of economic methods to examine laws and legal institutions. The fundamental concepts of economics-scarcity, maximization, and marginal analysis-are used to predict the effect of legal rules on behavior, and to evaluate how well a particular rule achieves its intended end. At another level, civil law may be viewed as another system of resource allocation and wealth distribution, as the legal system is often used to craft a remedy when markets fail in their allocative role. Topics may include property law, contract law, accident law, family law, criminal law, and copyright and trademark law. Prerequisite(s): ECON 101, 150, or 260.
ECON 231 Money and Magic: Anthropological Exploration of Contemporary Capitalism
This course examines the more magical and relational aspects of contemporary economy, markets, and capitalism. First, students examine ideas often taken for granted about nature, humans, and nonhumans that shape cultural understandings of “economy” in American capitalism. Then they explore economic practices, ideal subjects, and the production of economic “others” in contemporary capitalism(s) around the world, past and present. Through readings and use of various media (film, TikTok, Twitter, etc.) students explore how economy is cultural, relational, and ultimately a bit “magical.”
ECON 246 Understanding Poverty: Introduction to Development Economics
This course provides an introduction to development economics and the issues that it attempts to address. The United Nations reports that one in every nine people globally suffered from hunger in 2019. The number of people living in extreme poverty stood at 736 million in 2015, down from nearly 2 billion in 1990. Why are some countries richer than others? What are the policies that help people transition out of poverty and increase their standard of living? Prerequisite(s): ECON 101 or ECON 150.
ECON 250 Statistics
Topics include probability theory, sampling theory, estimation, hypothesis testing, and linear regression. Prospective economics majors should take this course in or before the fall semester of the sophomore year. Recommended background: ECON 101, 103, or 150.
ECON 255 Econometrics
Topics include multiple regression using time series and cross-sectional data, simultaneous equation models, and an introduction to forecasting. Prerequisite(s): ECON 250 and MATH 105, 106, 205, or 206.
ECON 260 Intermediate Microeconomic Theory
Compares models of perfect competition and market failure, with emphasis on the consequences for efficiency and equity. Topics include consumer choice, firm behavior, markets for goods and inputs, choice over time, monopoly, oligopoly, monopolistic competition, externalities, and public goods. Prerequisite(s): MATH 105, 106, or 205. Recommended background: ECON 101 or 150.
ECON 270 Intermediate Macroeconomic Theory
This study of national income determination includes movements involving consumption, saving, investment, demand for money, supply of money, interest rates, price levels, wage rates, and unemployment. Monetary policy, fiscal policy, inflation, and growth models are considered. Prerequisite(s): MATH 105, 106, or 205. Recommended background: ECON 103 or 150.
ECON 284 The Political Economy of Capitalism
Political economy studies the market and the state as interrelated institutions. This course examines capitalism within its political context from two complementary perspectives. Students examine the historical evolution of social scientific thinking about the economy, in the process identifying some of the central critiques and defenses of capitalism as a system of social organization. Then they consider political economy topically, addressing a series of policy challenges thrown up by capitalism and considering multiple perspectives on how those challenges should be diagnosed and addressed.
ECON 304 Macroeconomic Finance
This course studies the interaction between macroeconomics and financial markets. The course begins with a modern perspective on money and banking, and then uses this foundation to examine a variety of financial market features that influence macroeconomic performance and policies. The majority of the long run analysis focuses on the relationship between financial development and economic growth. Short run topics include the link between investment and monetary policy, the effect of housing market features on macroeconomic volatility, borrowing and access to credit, and financial market imperfections. Prerequisite(s): ECON 255 and 270.
ECON 305 International Financial Stability
Global financial stability is an essential requirement to ensure sustainable world economic growth and the successful development of emerging markets. This course provides an in-depth understanding of the mechanisms and institutions that rule our international financial system. First, students take a historic look at the evolution of the international monetary system during the last century. Then they study recent failures of the system leading to global financial crises. Special attention is paid to currency, debt, and balance of payments crises. Finally, they review current policy challenges faced by developed and developing nations. Prerequisite(s): ECON 255 and 270. Recommended background: ECON 221.
ECON 306 Economics of Strategies in Firms and Markets
This course investigates the economics of strategies between and within firms. Students consider the applications of game theory in the realm of business practices, including basic principles of game theory, applications of game theory in business practices, and the empirical realities of business organizations. Major topics include monitoring and incentivizing employees, trust and cooperation within groups, patent races and patent adoption, and communications within and across organizations. Prerequisite(s): ECON 255 and 260.
ECON 307 The Economics of Pandemics
This course studies individuals’ behavior using epidemiological models and tools from microeconomics. The course begins with the SIR model to analyze determinants of the spread of contagious diseases. Concepts from health economics are introduced to examine the welfare effects of pharmaceutical and nonpharmaceutical interventions. The main analysis of pharmaceutical intervention will focus on the economics of drugs and vaccines development and their effect on achieving herd immunity. The analysis of nonpharmaceutical interventions focuses on the effect of social distancing behavior (in the case of respiratory diseases) and public campaigns (in the case of HIV) on disease spread and economic outcomes. The course also considers the effect of economic policies on the spread of diseases and economic outcomes. Prerequisite(s): ECON 255 and 260.
ECON 308 Women and Economic Development
On which margins do differences in women’s and men’s access to or participation in economic activities persist in low- and middle-income countries? Which policies have been successful at closing those gaps, and why? In this course, students begin by exploring gender gaps in economic development access and outcomes, why these gaps matter, and an economic basis for why some of these gaps might occur. Students then examine policies that might close or widen these gaps, and empirical evaluations of such policies using economic principles. Prerequisite(s): ECON 255 and 260.
ECON 309 Economics of Less-Developed Countries
This course goes beyond descriptive statistics about developing countries to analyzing and explaining these outcomes using development economics. Particular attention is paid to the role of information and institutions in shaping markets and economic decision-making in developing country contexts. Topics may include economic history, labor and capital markets, poverty and social-assistance programs, and political economy in developing countries. Prerequisite(s): ECON 255 and 260.
ECON 311 Public Economics
An analysis of basic issues in the field of public finance. The course covers a wide range of topics, including the welfare implications of expenditure and taxation policies of governments, the economic rationale of governmental provision of goods and services, fiscal institutions in the United States, efficiency and distributive aspects of taxation, effects of taxation on household and firm behavior, intergovernmental fiscal relations, and the public debt. Prerequisite(s): ECON 255 and 260.
ECON 313 A Tale of Two Recessions: 2008 and 2020
This seminar examines the events of the 2008 recession, as well as its causes and aftermath. Special attention is paid to the housing bubble that preceded the recession, how the crisis in the housing sector spread to the rest of the economy, and the response of monetary, fiscal, and regulatory policies. The seminar focuses both on refining students’ theoretical and empirical skills, and on applying them to recent macroeconomic events. Prerequisite(s): ECON 255 and 270.
ECON 315 Energy Economics
In this course students develop and use tools of economic analysis to understand contemporary policy issues related to energy. This course focuses on the relationship among economics, science, technology, and energy in the public policy process. Students examine the political economy of global climate change to study this relationship. The goal is to establish a reasonable basis for understanding the science and politics of global climate change. Prerequisite(s): ECON 255, 260, and 270.
ECON 316 Fat Tails and Tipping Points: Climate Economics and Policy
The course explores the economic causes and consequences of human-induced climate change-the “mother of all externalities”-and potential solutions. Particular attention is paid to low probability/high damage events (fat tails), tipping points and the estimation of damages from climate change. Students use the tools of economics to understand evaluate the effectiveness, costs, and benefits and distributional consequences of policies designed to reduce climate change. Students investigate the role of adaptation and innovation as potential climate solutions and evaluate the equity implications of climate impacts and climate policy. Only open to juniors and seniors. Prerequisite(s): ECON 250, 255, and 260.
ECON 325 Prices, Property, and the Problem of the Commons
An analysis of water resources and fisheries economics. Topics include water allocation, scarcity and pricing, water rights, cost-benefit analysis, valuation, water markets, and problems related to common-property resources such as underground aquifers and fisheries. Economic incentives for pollution control including tradable pollution permit programs for water quality maintenance are also covered. Prerequisite(s): ECON 255 and 260.
ECON 326 Economic Development and Political Economy
Economic development is often associated with spending on international aid. But independent governments are usually the primary source of spending on poverty alleviation and development within their own borders. This course examines economic development through the lens of political economy, tracing out the complex relationships between poverty, growth, markets, institutions, and political agents. Topics include institutional development and long-run growth, political agency and incentives for public goods provision, corruption, clientelism, and natural resource management.
ECON 331 Labor Economics
A study of human resources and the labor market. Topics include racial and sexual discrimination, theories of unemployment and job search, income distribution and poverty, Becker’s new household economics, unions and collective bargaining, and government intervention in the labor market. Prerequisite(s): ECON 255 and 260.
ECON 335 Health Economics
The health care industry represents a rapidly growing proportion of government expenditures and the U.S. economy as a whole. This course offers theoretical and empirical analyses of health care markets and individual decisions with respect to health and health care. These issues require special consideration due to asymmetric information in insurance markets and the physician-patient relationship; uncertainty in health shocks and expenditures; and interactions among health care providers, insurers, employers, and public health insurance programs. The class considers these issues primarily in a microeconomic framework and explores econometric techniques commonly used in the study of health and health care. Prerequisite(s): ECON 255 and 260.
ECON 337 Behavioral Economics
The field of behavioral economics seeks to explain the economic decision-making of homo sapiens economicus, the psychologically complex, cognitively limited, emotional, social, decision-maker. This course covers major findings to date in behavioral economics and develops students’ abilities to apply a behavioral perspective to models of economic choice. Students learn to interpret and critique economic research and to write clearly and concisely about topics in behavioral economics.
ECON 338 Labor Economics and Policy
An economic analysis of interactions between workers and firms. This course begins with an overview of labor supply: how do individuals decide how much to work, if at all? The bulk of the course focuses on contemporary topics in labor economics, which may include minimum wage policy, labor-market discrimination, incentive pay, occupational licensing, human capital, and unions. Emphasis is placed on empirical applications with exploration of econometric techniques commonly used in labor economics.
ECON 339 Industrial Organization
Theories of the firm are used to explain the organization of economic activity across markets and within firms. The effects of pricing behavior, merger activity, advertising, and research and development on efficiency and social welfare are examined. Prerequisite(s): ECON 255 and 260.
ECON 341 Time Series Econometrics
This course examines the theory and application of time series econometrics. The course considers issues related to time series data including stationarity, lag structure, and endogeneity, as well as estimation techniques such as vector autoregressions, maximum likelihood, and Bayesian approaches. The course’s applications primarily are related to the estimation of macroeconomic models and forecasting macroeconomic policy changes. Prerequisite(s): ECON 255 and 270.
ECON 343 International Finance
A study of the macroeconomics of international economics. The course covers topics in international finance and open-economy macroeconomics, including foreign exchange markets, exchange rate determination and regimes, purchasing power parity, balance of payments, the international capital market, and financial globalization. This course is designed to help students understand the main implications of increasing integration of the world economy. Students learn fundamental theories in the analysis of international macroeconomics, review related empirical evidence, analyze current international macroeconomics issues, and evaluate policy options. Prerequisite(s): ECON 255 and 270.
ECON 351 Computational Macroeconomics
This course is an introduction to dynamic general equilibrium models, which have become the workhorses of modern macroeconomics. These models involve intertemporal optimization by the different agents in the economy: households, firms, and the government. They are often used to analyze the modern theories of growth and aggregate fluctuations, and to study the role of monetary and fiscal policy. Most of these dynamic models, however, do not have analytical (closed form) solutions and one often has to rely on computational methods to analyze their behavior. The goal of this course is to provide an introduction to the computational tools that are necessary to solve dynamic economic models quantitatively. Prerequisite(s): ECON 255 and 270.
ECON 360 Independent Study
Students, in consultation with a faculty advisor, individually design and plan a course of study or research not offered in the curriculum. Course work includes a reflective component, evaluation, and completion of an agreed-upon product. Sponsorship by a faculty member in the program/department, a course prospectus, and permission of the chair are required. Students may register for no more than one independent study per semester. Prerequisite(s): ECON 255.
ECON 368 Data Science for Economists
Economics is at the forefront of developing statistical methods for analyzing data collected from uncontrolled sources. Because econometrics addresses challenges such as sample selection bias and treatment effects identification, the discipline is well-suited to analyze large or unstructured datasets. This course introduces practical tools and econometric techniques to conduct empirical analysis on topics like equality of opportunity, education, racial disparities, and more. These skills include data acquisition, project management, version control, data visualization, efficient programming, and tools for big data analysis. The course also explores how econometrics and statistical learning methods cross-fertilize and can be used to advance knowledge on topics where large volumes of data are rapidly accumulating. We will also cover the ethics of data collection and analysis. Prerequisite(s): ECON 255 and ECON 260 or 270.
ECON 372 Experimental Economics
This course presents the methodology of experimental economics, and the various findings obtained by analyzing markets, human rationality, and human social behavior. Throughout the course students participate in a range of classroom experiments and propose their own experimental design. Prerequisite(s): ECON 255 and 260 or 270.
ECON 373 The Economics of Crime, Punishment, and Rehabilitation
This seminar explores a rational choice basis for understanding criminal behavior. Rather than framing the behavior of individuals involved in crime as fundamentally different from our own, students consider how environmental, economic, and legal constraints and incentives lead to criminal activity that is individually rational. Students examine empirical evidence of the effectiveness of justice reforms and use it to further understand the role of rational choice in criminal behavior, along with its limitations. Students also engage in community partnerships to directly observe the legal environment and better connect theoretical applications to the institutional and cultural setting. Prerequisite(s): ECON 255 and 260.
ECON 456 Senior Thesis Seminar
Building on experience from previous economics courses, students in this course produce new independent research. They consider advanced topics in fields related to the instructors’ expertise. Prerequisite(s): two 300-level economics courses.
ECON 457 Senior Thesis
Prior to entrance into ECON 457, students must submit for approval a thesis proposal based on work done in a nonintroductory course. Students enroll in ECON 457 in the fall. Honors thesis writers enroll for both ECON 457 and ECON 458. Prerequisite(s): at least two 300-level economics courses.
ECON 458 Senior Thesis
A continuation of ECON 457 and designed for students completing an honors thesis. Students must submit for approval a thesis proposal based on work done in a nonintroductory course. Prerequisite(s): ECON 457 and at least two 300-level economics courses.
ECON S11 In Search of Higher Ground: Sea-Level Rise, Coastal Flooding and the Future of the Eastern Seaboard
Climate change, increased storm frequency and intensity, and sea-level rise have created an urgent need for adaptation planning for many communities along the U.S. eastern seaboard. In this course students examine adaptation strategies and vulnerability assessments to understand social and economic vulnerability and the complexities of coastal retreat. Utilizing climate adaptation planning tools, mapping technology, and on-the-ground observation, students examine adaptation strategies including managed retreat, buyouts, living shorelines, and green infrastructure. Students consider the current and future role of FEMA’s national flood insurance program as a major mechanism for incentivizing resilient or reckless coastal development. Based in experiential learning, students engage in discussions with experts, practitioners, and residents in highly vulnerable coastal areas in Maine, as well as a ten-day trip to coastal communities in Virginia and North Carolina. Prerequisite(s): ECON 101 or 222, or ENVR 209. Recommended background: ECON 250 or other statistics course.
ECON S15 Management of Maine’s Marine Resources
This course uses economic reasoning and perspective to explore the health and management of marine resources in the state of Maine. Students will learn about how marine fisheries and coastal ecosystems have been managed by indigenous tribes, local communities, and state and federal governments. Through case study research, they will identify the challenges of designing, monitoring, and enforcing management systems, including issues connected to climate change and economic trends. Prior coursework in economics is recommended but not required for this course.
ECON S21 Renewable Energy in Maine and New England
In examining renewable energy in Maine and New England, students consider what “counts” as renewable energy and why, as well as the environmental, economic, and institutional tradeoffs involving renewables investment. The course includes up to three day-long trips to locations such as the Shawmut Dam in Skowhegan, the hydroelectric project in Lisbon Falls, community solar farms in the Portland and Augusta areas, land trusts in Maine’s Downeast counties, and wind turbine installations. Students interact with guest speakers and prepare a presentation on the impacts of renewable energy policies. Grading is participation- and presentation-based.
ECON S50 Independent Study
FYS 481 Truth
Two neutron stars colliding 130 million years ago confirmed Einstein’s gravity theory. Does confirmation mean Einstein’s theory is true? How is truth defined within the many truth and reconciliation commissions around the world? What promise of truth lies within historical archives? Within documentaries? Within fiction? How can we speak truthfully about unspeakable acts? This seminar joins thinkers modern and ancient drawn from many disciplines to explore what is meant by “truth,” how people form ideas about what is true, why people care greatly about truth, and how social forces influence what people think is true.
FYS 525 Wars, Plagues, and Revolutions: How Economies Respond to Crisis
This seminar examines how economies adapt when confronted with the onset of different types of crises, including wars, plagues, and revolutions, and how these emergencies continue to have economic impacts even after they end. Is it true that periods of crisis often lead to periods of greater economic equality? Under what conditions do wars generate higher economic growth, either while ongoing or in their aftermath? Students are exposed to a variety of writing modes including scholarly, journalistic, fiction, and propaganda, while examining how different writing techniques apply to each.
FYS 544 The Study and Practice of Human Cooperation
Why are some people willing to sacrifice to improve the well-being of strangers? How can we motivate others to engage in prosocial behavior? Is cooperation always a good thing? In this course, students engage in both the study and the practice of prosocial behavior through lectures, multidisciplinary reading selections, class discussion, service to others, and a range of assignments designed to explore different ways of knowing and communicating. Students examine prosocial behavior through research questions, methodologies, and findings from economics, psychology, neuroscience, sociology, anthropology, evolutionary biology, environmental studies, and political science.