PSC 582 Political Economy II

Political Science Field: Positive Theory
Typically offered every year

Mark Fey
Spring 2015 — F 9:30-12:00

An advanced course intended to prepare Ph.D. students for comprehensive exams in international relations. The course conducts a broad survey of influential works in the field and of current research into the causes of international conflict and cooperation. Extraordinarily well-prepared undergraduates may be admitted.

Avidit Acharya, Matthew Blackwell
Spring 2014 — W 9:00-12:00

Course Syllabus

Social networks pervade political and economic life. They shape how we acquire political knowledge, how we discover job opportunities, and how we shape and maintain norms. The multitude of ways that networks affect the world make it critical to understand how network structures impact behavior, which network structures are likely to emerge, and why we organize ourselves as we do. Drawing on a wide variety of fields, this course will review the literature, both theoretical and empirical, on social, economic, and political networks. Topics will include basic network structures, network formation, games on networks, learning, diffusion, and methods for network analysis.

Avidit Acharya
Spring 2013 — W 9:00-12:00

Course Syllabus

Comparative politics is concerned with a variety of questions. For example: What are the consequences of different political institutions on various outcomes? What are the causes and motivations for mass political movements, and what is the mechanism by which they are organized? What are the political causes of underdevelopment? How are identities created, and what role do they play in politics? Why are redistribution and the size of government greater in some countries than others? And many other questions that can be addressed using formal models. This course is designed to provide students with the skills to develop their own models for answering these and related questions. We will begin with a brief review of established modeling techniques. Then, we will study particular models that have been developed by the previous literature in comparative political economy. We will conclude by discussing new modeling techniques and their relevance for comparative politics.

Mark Fey
Spring 2012 — T 14:00-16:40

This course covers much of the modern game-theoretic literature on models of voting and elections. It is meant to expose students to the techniques and models used in this line of research. Some of the topics covered include probabilistic voting, policy-motivated candidates, candidate entry, strategic voting, and issues of information in elections, including uncertainty on the part of voters and candidates, and problems associated with private information in elections. The course covers both complete and incomplete information models and thus students must have a working knowledge of Bayesian games prior to taking this course.

Jean-Guillaume Forand
Spring 2011 — T 14:00-16:40

Course Syllabus

This course, a companion to PSC 575, will focus on surveying and discussing applications of dynamic models to political economy. Studying political dynamics helps to better align applied theory with important observed phenomena and to gather insight into the mechanics of the models we work with. Examples of topics covered are: dynamic electoral competition and extensions (or failures) of median voter theorems; dynamic legislative bargaining and the evolution (or unraveling) of compromise; sequential elections and the formation (or not) of bandwagons. Lectures will consist of working though important 'classic' papers as well as interesting new research and results. Emphasis on particular topics may vary with the configuration of class interests. Ideally, the class will serve as a vehicle for students to develop new research projects.

Mark Fey
Spring 2010 — T 14:00-16:40

Course Syllabus

We will take up several foundational topics in theoretical political economy. We begin with the analysis of fundamental concepts used throughout the course: binary relations, preferences, and choice. We then study social choice theory, where we view collective decisions as arising from a social preference relations determined in some arbitrary way by the preferences of individuals. We will prove Arrow's impossibility theorem and others, which inform us of inherent limitations on the rationality of collective decisions. We then change perspective, viewing collective decision as outcomes of a game played by individual decision-makers. We will consider game-theoretic models of static elections, sequential voting, bargaining, and repeated elections, with a special focus on connections to social choice.