Peter J Wilcoxen > PAI 723 Economics for Public Decisions

Course Outline

Here's the list of the topics to be covered in class this semester in the order they'll be discussed. Topics that are links have optional exercises, additional information or both. The list may be revised or expanded during the semester (especially with the addition of more exercises), so it's a good idea to check back from time to time.

Where applicable, the relevant sections of Perloff are indicated (on the linked page if the topic is a link).  The 4th and 5th editions of Perloff use almost identical section numbers but some section numbers are different in the 6th through 8th editions.  If section numbers are different, the applicable editions are shown as 4e through 8e.  The main difference between editions are the examples: newer editions use more recent examples. 

General Information

Online tools and math references.

Demand, Supply and Markets

Core economic concepts and the basic structure and functioning of markets.

Household Choice

Demand in more detail: modeling expenditure on goods and services; labor supply; choice over time.

Cost Benefit Analysis

Analysis of long term decisions and decisions under uncertainty.

Producer Behavior

Production and costs; marginal and average costs and revenue; objectives and constraints of organizations, including profits, revenue and output.

  • Fixed and Variable Factors: Perloff 6.2-6.3
  • Isoquants: Perloff 6.4
  • Returns to Scale: Perloff 6.5
  • Cost Minimization
  • Average and Marginal Costs: Perloff 7.2
  • Fixed, Variable and Sunk Costs: Perloff 7.2
  • Short Run and Long Run Costs: Perloff 7.2 and 7.3
  • Average and Marginal Revenue: Perloff 8.2
  • Price Taking: Perloff 8.1
  • Profit Maximization
  • Output Maximization
  • Monopoly Behavior

Competitive Markets and Market Failure

Performance of competitive markets; potential problems and market failures.

  • Competitive Supply in the Short Run: Perloff 8.2 and 8.3
  • Entry and Exit of Firms in the Long Run: Perloff 8.4
  • Zero Economic Profits: Perloff 4e,5e => 8.5 || 6e,7e,8e => 9.1
  • Rival vs Nonrival Goods
  • Public Goods: Perloff 18.6
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Peter J Wilcoxen, The Maxwell School, Syracuse University
Revised 09/07/2022