14.03 | Fall 2016 | Undergraduate, Graduate
Microeconomic Theory and Public Policy


Course Meeting Times

Lectures: 2 sessions / week, 1.5 hours / session

Recitations: 1 session / week, 1 hour / session


14.01SC Principles of Microeconomics or permission of instructor.

For for the first time ever, I’m pleased to include two new texts on the syllabus. Both are lucid, bull-shit free, and occasionally amusing, and available in paperback.

Banerjee, Samiran. Intermediate Microeconomics: A Tool-Building Approach. 1st ed. Routledge, 2014. ISBN: 9780415870054. [Preview with Google Books]

Angrist, Joshua D., and Jörn-Steffen Pischke. Mastering ‘Metrics: The Path from Cause to Effect. Princeton University Press, 2014. ISBN: 9780691152844. [Preview with Google Books]

Required Readings

Each lecture has an associated set of readings. These readings will feature in lectures, quizzes, exams and problem sets. If a reading is marked required, you are responsible for preparing the paper prior to class. This means reading the Abstract, Introduction and Conclusions (not necessarily the body of the paper) to answer the following questions:

  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 key findings?
  4. What is the economic interpretation of these findings?

I do not expect you to master the technical details of a paper prior to class. But I do expect you to come to class prepared to discuss the paper.

You will find a number of recommended readings on the syllabus for your education and entertainment. These papers should be useful—and in many cases fun—but you will not be tested on their content.

Class Attendance

14.03 / 14.003 is not a by-the-book micro-theory class. Fully one-third of the class will focus on applications from empirical and theoretical papers from leading journals that we will discuss in class. It will be difficult to master this material unless you attend lectures.

Moreover, there will be approximately six unannounced short quizzes given at the start of the lecture at various points in the term. These cannot be made up. If you take another class that meets at the same time as 14.03 / 14.003, you will have to live with the consequences.

Laptop / Tablet / Phone Use During Class

I strongly discourage you against texting, tweeting, emailing, blogging, posting, browsing, Instagramming, Googling, shopping, etc., during class. It wastes your class-time—since you won’t learn anything during lecture if you’re distracted. And it’s frequently distracting to your classmates. I’m sympathetic to your desire to use your laptop or tablet to view the online lecture notes and take notes of your own. I would encourage you instead to print out the online lecture notes the night before class, and to write your notes directly on the paper lecture notes. In my experience, it’s still faster and more accurate to take notes in class using paper and pen than to mark up a PDF file on your device. Of course, you may be faster with a tablet than I am. When I walk around the class during lecture, I will see what’s on your screen. If I notice that you are engaging in distracting technology use, I will ask you to close it down or take it elsewhere.


The class is not graded on a curve per se. It’s possible for everyone to do well, and I’d be happy to have a reason to assign mostly 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.

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