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Economics and Social Welfare

We will focus on contributions economists have made to answer the question “What Is a Good Society?” 

Policy on markets:  Do we get the best results if we let markets run without regulation?  When should the government step in and regulate markets?  What can it do when there are problems of pollution? Scarce resources?  Ignorant consumers?  Dangerous conditions?  Collusion?

Problems of workers:  Is society improved by policy on discrimination?  Collective action?  Minimum wages?  Can these problems be addressed locally, nationally or internationally?

Problems of entire countries:  What can a country do to develop?  Should it protect its own industries or engage in international competition, joining the WTO?

Problems of the best macro-economy:  Should policy fight inflation, unemployment, or stagnation?

We address the theme “What Is a Good Society?” by looking at economic problems and solutions.  We look at economic problems, from unemployment to poverty to natural resource depletion to underdevelopment, and compare answers given by various economists, from laissez-faire to socialism. 

Our objectives include having students understand the economic causes of many problems.  Students will analyze some economic problems, consider the various solutions, and evaluate them, often from the perspective of who is served, who is hurt by a policy proposal.