How to make decisions in light of pervasive uncertainties? How to deal with constant learning, experimentation, and streams of new information? How to think about entirely different incentive structures faced by decision-makers, and think through unintended consequences of one’s decisions? Economics, for better or worse, is organized common sense. No more, also no less. This class makes use of the toolkit given to us by economics and applies them to real-world policy problems.
The class will focus on questions around climate, energy, and the environment, though certainly not exclusively. In the end, we will pick examples based on how well they help us expand our toolkit and answer specific policy questions of particular interest. The biggest question to us often is in how far the tools economics gives us can provide objective policy advice, and at what point do normative judgments—politics—take over. We will develop our toolkit around these and many other questions, looking to the policy world—and the news—for ideas. In doing so, we apply economic insights, some basic mathematical tools, statistical thinking, econometrics, and borrow fundamental ideas from various other disciplines—all in the service of turning ourselves into better policy analysts and, ultimately, more astute decision makers.
CORE-GP 1011, CORE-GP 1018, PADM-GP 2140, and PADM-GP 2902