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Advanced Economic Policy 2

Alyssa Schneebaum
Vienna University of Economics and Business, 2018
Level: advanced
Perspective: Other
Topic: Inequality & Class, Innovation & Technology, Institutions, Governments & Policy, Macroeconomics, Money & Debt, Race & Gender, Resources, Environment & Climate
Format: Syllabus

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Advanced Economic Policy 2

This syllabus was originally taught at University of Vienna of University of Economics and Business Summer Semester 2018.
Instructor: Alyssa Schneebaum

For the syllabus "Advanced Economic Policy 1" with a different set of topics click here.

Course Summary

The course will teach students to analyze the goals, implementation, and outcomes of economic policy.

This is an advanced Bachelor’s-level class in economic policy. The particular topics and policies covered will be selected by the group in the first two weeks of the semester. The class will meet once per week. The first four sessions are based around the instructor’s lecture. Remaining sessions will be structured around a group discussion of assigned readings and presentations and teaching by the students. Along with information based on the main content of the class, students will be encouraged to develop their general academic skills. On the first day of class, the instructor will review the most important aspects of academic writing. A central goal of the course is for students to develop their critical thinking and writing skills, and their ability to present their (written and verbal) academic work in a clear, convincing, and appropriate fashion. These goals will be highlighted throughout the course, and students will be graded in part on their improvement in this regard. The response papers are an excellent way for students to practice honing their academic thinking and writing skills. The students will develop an ability to understand the goals and implementation of economic policy, and analyze its ability to meet said goals.

Assignments and Assessment


Attendance and participation are an important part of the course. Participation points will be distributed immediately following class. Students are responsible for all course material, even if they have missed a class. Twice in the semester, students should briefly and informally share with the class something that they have come across that is relevant for the class. This can be a song, a newspaper article, a viral tweet, a political campaign, a video... honestly, whatever. The main idea is that you explain how this thing is connected to concepts and ideas we are discussing in the course and how you understand this thing differently now that you are taking the course.

Response Papers

 Students can write three response papers to weekly readings throughout the semester. The reading for each class should be completed before the class meets. A response paper on a particular reading is due on the day that we discuss the reading in class (the day it is listed below). Response papers must be submitted in class. No late assignments will be accepted for any reason. If your essays run longer than one piece of paper (which they should not), please make the world a better place by stapling your pages together.Here is the grading system for response papers. They should:

  •  correctly and clearly describe what the text is about. This is a 3-4 sentence summary of the main questions, goals, methods, and conclusions of the text.
  •  succinctly and clearly discuss the single most interesting idea or concept introduced in the text, and explains why exactly it is so compelling.
  •  thoroughly discuss what is missing from the text, or how it could be improved. In the first case, the student explains exactly why this missing piece is important and how it would change the analysis; in the second case, the student provides his/her own suggestions for improvement. Keep in mind that the critique should be based on the context of the goals of the paper!
  •  include concepts and ideas discussed in the course and/or from previous readings.
  •  correctly cite the text under discussion.
  •  meet the formal requirements for correct spelling, punctuation, and length.

Group Work

Each group of 3-4 students will pick one of the eight topics decided on by the class, and provide an in-depth analysis of the issue/policy in question. The group is required to present the main ideas from the paper read by the whole class as well as other relevant literature on the topic - at least three extra academic papers per group member. The group will lead much of the class on their assigned day. The requirements for leading the class are to (1) clearly state the economic/social problem, (2) name and briefly discuss several potential solutions and policies to combat it, (3) inform the class on existing implementation of one of the potential policies, (4) report on the effectiveness of the policy selected to study in depth, and (5) suggest necessary amendments to make the policy better. The group should actively teach their classmates in their presentation! The presentation should be creative and engaging – NOT reading from slides while the rest of the class gets bored. The group will also submit a paper covering the same points in written form. The paper should be about ten pages (minimum eight, maximum 12), double-spaced. The paper is the purely academic presentation of your research results; the teaching in class can and should take a less formal form. At the end of the group teaching session, each member of the group will tell me (confidentially) how many points each other group member should receive, out of 5 for the paper and out of 5 for the teaching session. Thus, of the total 50 points for group work, 10 will be determined by the average of the other group members’ ratings.

Course Overview

Schedule of topics covered and mandatory readings 

Session 1 Introduction and overview of the course

  • Course structure; expectations and requirements; goals
  • Foundations of academic work

Session 2 Analyzing Economic Policy, Part I

  • Acemoglu, Daron and James A. Robinson. 2013. “Economics versus Politics: Pitfalls of Policy Advice.” Journal of Economic Perspectives 27(2): 173-192.

Session 3 Analyzing Economic Policy, Part II

  • Rodrik, Dani. 1996. “Understanding Economic Policy Reform.” Journal of Economic Literature 34: 9-41.

Session 4 An example: Same-sex marriage and the household division of labor

  • Genadek, Katie R., Wendy A. Stock and Christiana Stoddard. 2007. “No-Fault Divorce Laws and the Labor Supply of Women with and without Children.” The Journal of Human Resources 42(1): 247-274.

Session 5 Wealth and Income Inequality

  • Mumtaz, H. and A. Theophilopoulou. 2017. “The impact of monetary policy on inequality in the UK: An empirical analysis.” European Economic Review 98: 410-423.

Session 6 Health Inequality

  • Bauhoff, S. 2012. “Do health plans self-select? An audit study on Germany’s social health insurance.” Journal of Public Economics 96: 750-759.

Session 7 Gender Inequality

  • De Paola, M., Vincenzo Scoppa, and Rosetta Lombardo. 2010. “Can Gender Quotas Break Down Negative Stereotypes? Evidence from Changes in Electoral Rules.” Journal of Public Economics 94: 344-53.

Session 8 Intergenerational Persistence

  • Pekkarinen, Toumas, Roope Uusitalo, and Sari Kerr. 2009. “School tracking and intergenerational income mobility: Evidence from the Finnish comprehensive school reform.” Journal of Public Economics 93(7-8): 965-73.

Session 9 Financialization

  • Lee, Kim Ming and Cheng, Ching Yen. 2011. “Financialization, economic crises and social protection: the case of Hong Kong.” Journal of Asian Public Policy 4(1): 18-41.

 Session 10 Tax Evasion

  • Berger, Michael. 2013. “Not So Safe Haven: Reducing Tax Evasion by Regulating Correspondent Banks Operating in the United States.” Journal of International Business and Law 12: 51-87.

Session 11 Monopolies

  • Braeutigam, Ronald. 1989. “Optimal Policies for Natural Monopolies.” In R. Schmalensee and R.D. Willig (Eds.), Handbook of Industrial Organization, Volume II, pages 1289-1346.

Session 12 Climate Change

  • McKibbin, Warwick J. and Peter J. Wilcoxen. 2002. “The Role of Economics in Climate Change Policy.” Journal of Economic Perspectives 16(2): 107-129.

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