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Legonomics: Building Blocks of Economic Analysis

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Stephen Spear,


Undergraduate Economics

Course Description

The overall theme of the course is how to use data and measurement to form models for economic analysis, with the emphasis not on any kind of formal statistical or econometric analysis, but rather on how to do the inductive science of translating perceived patterns in data into a usable model in the sense of ignoring noise and abstracting from patterns to hypothesize relationships.

We will work with historical data sets to "discover" Malthusian economics and model economic relationships that governed the human condition up until the mid-1700's.  We will then move on to the industrial revolution and "discover" the role of technology, culminating in an overview of modern thinking about economic growth.

Questions we will consider as well as looking at looking at the current public policy responses to them are:

  • Why are some countries rich and some are poor?
  • Why have some countries experienced rapid economic development; what can be done to foster development of others that continue to languish?
  • Does education lead to increased household wealth and national wealth?
  • How are new technologies affecting economic development and economic opportunities?
  • Can we improve design of electronic markets to take advantage of the vast opportunities for trade and exchange afforded by the internet?



Lecture: 100min/wk and Recitation: 50min/wk


C. Willis, Doomsday Book, Spectra, 1993; E. Brynjolfsson et al, "The Second Machine Age"


(73100) AND (21111)