PhD Course Descriptions


Of the many ways that doctoral students typically learn how to do research, two that are important are watching others give seminar presentations (as in Applied Economics Seminars) and presenting one's own research. The BEPP 900 course provides a venue for the latter. Wharton doctoral students enrolled in this course present applied economics research. Presentations both of papers assigned for other classes and of research leading toward a dissertation are appropriate in BEPP 900. This course aims to help students further develop a hands-on understanding of the research process. All doctoral students with applied microeconomic interests are encouraged to attend and present. Second and third year Applied Economic Ph.D. students are required to enroll in BEPP 900 and receive one-semester credit per year of participation.

Prerequisites: None.

Other Information: Permission of instructor required.


This course will help prepare you to run your own economics laboratory and field experiments. Experimental methods have been widely adopted by economists to develop new insights, and some economic theories and hypotheses are uniquely well-suited for testing with experimental tools and data. Achieving high internal and external validity requires careful experimental design. Substantive areas of application in the course will include market equilibrium, asset bubbles, learning in games, public good provision, and labor market relationships. Additional topics may include biases in individual decision-making; field experiments in development economics; and happiness, neuroeconomics, and behavioral/experimental welfare economics. Economists' typical interests in strategic and market-based interactions raise particular methodological challenges and opportunities.


This course examines econometric research on a variety of topics related to public policy, with the goal of preparing students to undertake academic-caliber research. The course is not an econometrics or statistics course per se; rather, it focuses on research designs with observational data and how econometric techniques are applied in practice. The course aims to train students to do applied economic research that involves measuring effects of theoretical or practical interest. It proceeds in two major parts. The first part examines endogeneity and inference about causal relationships, instrumental variables methods and critiques, and panel data methods. The second part of the course addresses 'structural' econometric modeling. Topics covered in this part include sorting and selection, entry models, and counterfactual analyses of policy changes. The course proceeds by analyzing, in detail, approximately 24 well-known empirical research papers in applied economics or related fields. These include public economics and tax policy, labor economics, law and economics, health care policy, industrial organization and competition, transportation demand and policy, and others.

Prerequisites: A graduate-level statistics or econometrics course.


The objective of this course is to introduce graduate students to computational approaches for solving economic models. We will formulate economic problems in computationally tractable form and use techniques from numerical analysis to solve them. Examples of computational techniques in the current economics literature as well as discuss areas where these techniques may be useful in future research will be disclosed. We will pay particular attention to methods for solving dynamic optimization problems and computing equilibria of games. The substantive applications will cover a wide range of problems including industrial organization, game theory, macroecomics, finance, and econometrics.

Prerequisites: None.


The course provides an advanced introduction to the theory of contracts and its mixture of foundational theories and applications to fields such as labor, reguindustrial organization.

Prerequisites: None


The first part of this course will examine the rationale for and economic impact (e.g. on saving, labor supply, etc.) of social insurance programs such as social security, unemployment insurance and disability insurance. The next major part of the course will explore these same issues for government interventions in health insurance markets. The course will then cover research on public goods, externalities, fiscal federalism, and econmic stimulus (including the government's recent response to the "Great Recession") before proceeding to an exploration of the government's role in K-12 and high education. Both theoretical and empirical evidence will be covered along with a mix of classic studies and more cutting-edge research. Throughout the course we will discuss the tradoffs - for example between the protection and distortion of social insurance programs -- that influence government's optional role. While the focus will be on evidence from the U.S., some research from other industrialized and developing countries will also be covered.

Prerequisites: None.


This course deals with the economic theory of supply, demand, and equilibrium in savings and insurance markets, including social insurance. We will review decision models under condidtions of risk and use these to address probelms of optimal insurance, moral hazard and adverse selection, social security, and contract enforcement.

Prerequisites: Economics (Basic).


This course will cover current microeconomic issues of developikng countries including poverty, risk, savings, human capital, and institutions. We will also explore the causes and consequences of market failures that are common in many developing countries with a focus on credit, land, and labor markets. The course is designed to introduce recent research with focus on empirical methods and testing theories with data.


Public goods, externalities, uncertainty, and income redistribution as sources of market failures; private market and collective choice models as possible correcting mechanisms. Microeconomic theories of taxation and public sector expenditures. The administration and organization of the public sector.

Prerequisites: Microeconomics, Economics 701 and 703. Any deviation from that must be approved by the Instructor.


This course will introduce the students to the basic models of formal political economy and methods for empirically estimating those models from policy data, both for the developed and developing economies. Topics to be covered will include Downsian electoral competition and median voter politics, theories of legislative politics including minimum winning coalition and universalistic (pork-barrel) politics, models of lobbying and political corruption, models of executive influence in legislative settings. Particular attention is paid to the role of formal (constitutional) and informal (non-constitutional) institutions as they determine policy outcomes in democratic societies, including majoritarian (first-past-the-post) and proportional representation systems of elections, partisan (party) and non-partisan (special interest) legislatures, executive agenda-setting and veto powers, federal and unitary forms of governance, and finally, the role of judicial review. Policy applications will focus on fiscal policy (taxes, spending, and debt), though students should feel free to apply the analysis to other public policies of interest. Students should have a firm understanding of micro-economic theory and applied econometrics.

Prerequisites: PHD course with advanced microeconomics.


BEPP961 - RISK ANALY & ENV MGMT (Course Syllabus)

This course is designed to introduce students to the role of risk assessment, risk perception and risk management in dealing with uncertain health, safety and environmental risks including the threat of terrorism. It explores the role of decision analysis as well as the use of scenarios for dealing with these problems. The course will evaluate the role of policy tools such as risk communication, economic incentives, insurance, regulation and private-public partnerships in developing strategies for managing these risks A project will enable students to apply the concepts discussed in the course to a concrete problem.

Prerequisites: None, but microeconomics helpful.


The goal of this course is to help doctoral students develop critical thinking skills through both seminar participation and writing of referee reports. To this end students will attend the Wharton Applied Economics each Wednesday at noon seminar when it meets; prepare two written referee reports on WAE papers per semester, due before the seminar is presented; after attending the seminar - and the ensuing discussion of the paper - students will prepare follow-up evaluations of their referee report reports, due one week after the seminar.

Prerequisites: None.


The course covers Market Design, the analysis and engineering of market rules and institutions. In the last 60 years practitioners and academics have deliberately engineered the rules of an increasing number of markets, with classic examples including medical resident matching (e.g., NRMP), spectrum auctions (e.g., FCC auctions), and organ donation exchanges. In the last few years, very large markets have been created from scratch, such as eBay, Adwords, and smaller markets like and These designs use a broad set of tools, including economic theory, empirical analysis and experiments (and a fair dose of trial-and-error). With this experience, useful principles have emerged, on what market failures typically have to be addressed, and on which rules work and which do not.


This course focuses on empirical methods and applications of research topics in Industrial Organization. Although not exclusively, the course will focus mostly on the application of econometric techniques used to study specific markets and antitrust policies. The topics that will be covered include the evaluationof market power and mergers, product differentiation, investment and innovation, collusion, price discrimination, vertical relations, entry and product positioning, and the dynamics of industries. The course will also discuss research methodologies related to microeconomic theory, computational methods, and econometric analysis. The applicability of the techniques goes beyond the field of Industrial Organization, and include the Labor, Health, Trade and Public economics.

Prerequisites: Doctoral level economics (e.g. ECON 701, 703 or ECON 680, 682).