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Experimental Economics

ECON 2180

Economics courses covering mainstream theories are often based upon a priori reasoning, which is in turn built upon certain assumptions about individual optimizing behavior. This course introduces students to the new and expanding field of experimental economics. Instead of taking the mainstream assumptions and conclusions for granted, we critically examine individuals' economic behavior and their 'social' consequences in various experimental settings. We review the historical development of experiments and then cover specific topics that experiments have been designed to investigate. The course has a heavy lab focus, with students themselves participating in simulations of most of the experiments discussed. Topics include market functioning, public goods and open access environmental resources, fairness and equity, and individual decision-making. Students are encouraged to think about empirical and policy implications highlighted by both experiments and economic theory. Students also gain an understanding of the scientific methodology required to create controlled experiments.