AREC 464
Economics of Policy Analysis

Lecture Notes
Problem Sets

Syllabus for Fall 2016

AREC 464
Economics of Policy Analysis
Fall 2016
Tu Th 9:30–10:45 AM, Room 302 Harvill

Course Description
Applied economic theory and method of policy analysis and public choice. Emphasis is on policies affecting agriculture and rural America—especially government intervention in agricultural markets. The course introduces basic tools of quantitative, economic policy analysis. Students will learn how these tools can be applied to diverse issues: pesticide regulation, evaluation of biotechnology, invasive species control, international trade policies, and water rationing.

Instructor: Dr. George Frisvold
Office: 308B McClelland Park
Phone: 621-6269
Office hours: Tuesday & Thursday 11:15 – 1:00 PM or by appointment

Teaching Assistant: Xin “Jessica” Qiao    
Office: 301C McClelland Park
Phone: (520) 247-2969
Office hours: Mon and Wed, 1:00–3:00 PM

Prerequisites: ECON 300 or ECON 361 or AREC 315; MATH 113.

Course Website
Problem sets, problem set answer sheets, and quiz answer sheets will be handed out in class and posted to the course website ( throughout the semester.

You will need a login and password to get readings and problem sets from the website. You can get login and password information in class.

Course Reading, Resources, Requirements, and Grading

Required Reading

The course textbook is Introduction to Agricultural Economics, 6th Edition John Penson, Oral Capps, C. Parr Rosson, Richard Woodward, ©2015  | Pearson

You can buy or rent this as an E-book for prices “starting at” $75.99 or you can order a hard copy $186.20

Everything you need from this textbook for the course is available in the cheaper, electronic version.

Other readings on policy topics are also required. Some will be available for download as pdf files on the password-protected course reading list site. Other materials will come from economics blogs that you can view online and/or download and/or print yourself.

• Four (4) problem sets (best 3 of 4 grades count)
• Four (4) quizzes (best 3 of 4 grades count)
• Group project/presentation
• An open book, open note final exam


Points Percent Grade
240 – 269
210 – 239
180 – 209
Below 180


Points are allocated as follows.

Assignments Points % of Grade
Problem Sets 90 points (30 points for each of 3)
Quizzes 90 points (30 points for each or 3)
Final Exam 100 points

What happens if you turn in a problem set late?
Students are to turn in problem sets in class on the day they are due. If you know you are going to be away, you can always turn a problem set in early. Scores on late problem sets will be marked down 20%. After the answer key and graded problem sets are handed out in class, you will get no points for turning in that problem set.

Special Needs
Students needing special accommodations or special services should contact the Disability Resource Center ( and/or the SALT Center ( Students with disabilities who require reasonable accommodations to fully participate in course activities or meet course requirements must register with the Disability Resource Center (DRC). If you qualify for services through DRC, please bring your letter of accommodation to me as soon as possible.


Week   Topics   Assignments
1 (8/23, 25)  

Course Overview
Agriculture in the US Economy

2 (8/30, 9/1)  

Welfare Economics Building Blocks:

Demand & Consumer Surplus

Supply & Producer Surplus

3 (9/6, 8)  

Supply & Demand: Elasticities and Curve Shifts

Applications: Air pollution, R&D, Pesticide Regulation, Advertising Programs, Tax Incidence, Prices Floors, Production Quotas

  Problem Set 1 due (9/8)
4 (9/13, 15)  

Imperfect Competition: Monopoly, Oligopoly, Monopolistic Competition

Applications: Anti-trust policy, patents

  Quiz 1 (9/15)
5 (9/20, 22)  

Imperfect Competition: Monopsony, Oligopsony, Monopsonistic Competition

Applications: Meatpacking, Processed Food, Labor Unions, Minimum Wages

6 (9/27, 29)  

Simple Trade Models
US Agriculture in World Trade

  Problem Set 2 due (9/29)
7 (10/4, 6)   Debates over Trade and Globalization   Quiz 2 (10/6)
8 (10/11, 13)   Trade Policies: Tariffs, Quotas, Trade Bans    
9 (10/18, 20)  

Macroeconomics Building Blocks: GDP, Inflation and Unemployment

  Problem Set 3 due (10/20)
10 (10/25, 27)  

Macroeconomic Stabilization: Monetary Policy

Fiscal Policy

  Quiz 3 (10/27)
11 (11/1, 3)  

From the Great Moderation to the Great Recession: What Went Wrong?

Evaluating Policy Responses

12 (11/8, 10)  

Can Economics Predict Presidential Elections? Secular Stagnation
Monetary Policy: New Keynesians vs. Neo-Fisherian

  Problem Set 4 due (11/10)
13 (11/15, 17)  

The National Debt

Entitlement Programs: Social Security, Medicare, & Medicai

  Quiz 4 (11/17)
14 (11/22, 24)   Topic TBA
Thanksgiving holiday
15 (11/29, 12/1)  

Entitlement Programs (continued)

Controlling the National Debt: Differences in Generational Priorities

16 (12/6)   Review of Course Topics    
Final Exam (12/13)   Final is open book, open note in 302 Harvill from 8:00 – 10:00AM, Tuesday, 12/13/2016    

Last updated August 24, 2016.
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