Course Meeting Times

Lectures: 2 sessions / week, 1.5 hours /session

Recitations: 1 session / week, 1 hour / session



Because there is no textbook that closely corresponds to 14.03/14.003, I no longer require a textbook for the class and distribute detailed lecture notes instead. If you want a reference book to use as a supplement, I have two cost-effective solutions to suggest:

Buy at Amazon McAfee, R. Preston, and Tracy R. Lewis. Introduction to Economic Analysis. R. Preston McAfee, 2006. ISBN: 9781600490002.

Flatworld Press. At this link, you'll find the McAfee-Lewis text with the chapter order slightly rearranged to better fit the organization of 14.03/14.003. You can buy the right to read this book online (in perpetuity) or print it yourself for $25. You can also buy a printed copy in black and white ($30) or color ($60).

Open source version. Alternatively, you may download an earlier free version from McAfee's Web site. Keep in mind that the chapters will not correspond exactly with those listed in the readings section.

Required Readings

There are numerous required papers for this course. These papers will be discussed in lecture and will feature in quizzes, exams and problem sets. Papers assigned for required reading should be prepared prior to class. Preparing the paper means reading the abstract, introduction and conclusions (not necessarily the body of the paper) to understand:

  1. What is the paper's research question?
  2. What methodology is used to answer the question (e.g., an experiment, a quasi-experiment, a set of correlations, etc)?
  3. What are the main findings?
  4. What is the economic interpretation of these findings?

Recommended Readings

There are numerous recommended readings listed for your edification and entertainment. In addition, the last one or two lectures of the class will feature discussions of some fascinating recent economic studies that are only tangentially related to the core topics of the class. I've assigned these papers to give you a sense of what you can do with some economic theory, creativity, and statistical ingenuity. If you find them interesting, you might also enjoy the bestselling book by University of Chicago economist (and MIT Ph.D) Steven D. Levitt:

Buy at Amazon Levitt, Steven D., and Stephen J. Dubner. Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything. Harper Perennial, 2009. ISBN: 9780060731335.

Though this book is in no sense a representative guide to what economists—rogue or otherwise—do for a living, it offers nice examples of economic reasoning applied to unusual problems. It's also quite entertaining.

Class Attendance

14.03/14.003 is not a by-the-book micro-theory class. At least one-third of the class will focus on applications from empirical and theoretical papers from leading journals that I present in class. These papers are mostly recent and will not appear in textbooks. You will need to attend class to master this material. If you take another class that meets at the same time as 14.03/14.003, you will have to live with the consequences.

Getting Help Outside of Class

If you have questions on the class material or problem sets, there are four ways to get help:

  1. Use the class Web site. We'll have threaded discussions there (monitored by TAs and professor as needed) for all problem sets and class topics. You should get a pretty quick response—and a good answer.
  2. Drop in during TA office hours.
  3. Drop in during the professor's office hours.
  4. Ask question during recitation (or in class as appropriate).

Please do not send your class-related questions by email (except for personal class-related matters). Using the course Web site is a more efficient way for us to communicate with you, and it is also benefits your classmates.


The class is not graded on a curve. It's possible for everyone to do well, and I'd be happy to have a reason to assign straight A's. That said, if you make minimal effort, you will probably receive a C or worse. If I think you are headed for a D or F, I will try to warn you before drop date. Grades will be assigned based on the requirements in the table below:

Problem sets (best 5 of 6) 25%
Exams (3) 60%
Class participation 5%
In-class quizzes 10%

Problem Sets

I will assign six problem sets. Problem sets typically include a set of pure theory questions and a set of application questions, often based on the required readings. You must submit your problem sets in PDF form through the course Web site. Late problem sets will not be accepted, no exceptions. In order to accommodate unanticipated events, illness, or conflicts in your schedule, I will automatically drop the problem set with the lowest score (for example, the one that you don't hand in).


There will be three in-class, closed-book exams of 80 minutes in length. Each exam will focus on the new material since the previous exam, although of course you will need to understand the older material to apply the new material. The exams will be based on the lecture notes, problem sets, assigned readings, and classroom discussion. Performance on exams is highly correlated with performance on problem sets.

If you miss an exam for an excused reason, I will offer a written makeup or an oral exam on the blackboard. Students typically find oral exams painful. But, I will not write a new exam for only one or two students, so a makeup oral exam is reasonably likely.

Class Participation and In-Class Quizzes

If you participate regularly in class, I will learn your name and count your participation towards the grade. For those who do not participate voluntary, I do occasionally cold call in class.

I will also give about a half dozen in-class quizzes at the start of lecture. These quizzes will be brief, non-technical checkups on of what's going on in the class (readings, lectures, problem sets).