The pedagogy of parameters

A difficult thing that I ask my students to do is to parameterize everything.

The ideas that my game theorists come up with for applied theory projects are uniformly great. The puzzles they want to study are rich with potential, and many are easily original enough to be of publishable grade.

Compared to coming up with ideas, kicking it up a notch into something that looks like an economics paper is much harder. There are two main hurdles:

Continue reading

Soliciting strategies

I once was a research assistant on a project that called on participants in an experiment to make a decision that depended on the expected value of a randomly drawn object. The scenario and instructions were printed on a bit of paper and we asked players to put a checkmark next to their choice. So far, so good.

Continue reading

Rethinking the first year graduate economics program

The job market for economists is revving up again, and I’m thinking about the gauntlet of graduate education that the rookie economists have just survived to get to this point. I want to raise a few questions—typical academic navel-gazing about “the state of the field”. Basically my message is that I think the time has come to retire and replace the first year graduate economics “canon”. Hopefully I can justify myself with some (leading) questions.

Continue reading

Welfare economics in Econ 101


I’m wondering today, on an otherwise lovely Friday, how soon to introduce welfare economics into an introductory economics course.

I know. Bear with me.

I think one of the most fundamental jobs of introductory economics is to start to build the famous “invisible wall” between positive and normative economics. The textbook distinction is between questions about the way the world is—positive—and the way the world ought to be—normative.

Continue reading