14.03 | Fall 2016 | Undergraduate, Graduate

Microeconomic Theory and Public Policy

Instructor Insights

Instructor Interview

Ford Professor of Economics David Autor at work in his office on the MIT campus.

Below, Professor David Autor describes various aspects of how he teaches 14.03 Microeconomic Theory and Public Policy.

"I was, and still am, interested in the kinds of skills people need to succeed in the workforce, and how those skills are rewarded…I especially care a great deal about how people who are the least well-off are affected by economic opportunity, education, and changes to the labor market."
— David Autor

Curriculum Information


14.01 Principles of Microeconomics or permission of instructor.

Requirements Satisfied



Every spring and fall semester


The students’ grades were based on the following activities:

  • 30% Best five out of six problem set grades
  • 60% Three exams
  • 5% Best of six in-class quizzes
  • 5% Class participation

Student Information


41 students

Breakdown by Year

Mostly undergraduates and master’s degree students

Breakdown by Major

1/4 Technology and Public Policy graduate program

3/4 Other

Typical Student Background

Many students in the Technology and Public Policy graduate program come to the course with extremely varied backgrounds. Many have some professional experience.

In the course, we discuss several empirical applications of economic theory in the developing world. We often have students from the focal areas, which enriches our discussions.

How Student Time Was Spent

During an average week, students were expected to spend 12 hours on the course, roughly divided as follows:

In Class

  • Met 2 times per week for 1.5 hours per session; 28 sessions total.
  • Students discussed applications from empirical and theoretical papers published in leading journals.
  • There were six unannounced quizzes during lecture sessions.


  • Teaching assistants helped students think through problem sets and conducted exam reviews.

Out of Class

  • Students conducted readings, completed problem sets, prepared for exams, and attended optional office hours offered by the instructor.

Course Info

As Taught In
Fall 2016
Learning Resource Types
grading Exams
notes Lecture Notes
assignment_turned_in Problem Sets with Solutions
co_present Instructor Insights