Skip to main content

Good Economics for Hard Times

Learn how current applied economics uses data to tackle some of the toughest problems facing society. Taught by Nobel-prize winning MIT professors Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo and based on their book Good Economics for Hard Times, the course specifically addresses today’s most pressing issues in the United States and other advanced economies.

Good Economics for Hard Times
start date
11 weeks
12-14 hours per week

About this course

This is an INTRODUCTORY elective course within the MITx MicroMasters program in Data, Economics, and Development Policy (DEDP), which provides a path towards MIT’s Master’s in DEDP. To enroll in the courses, remain on this site and click the “enroll now” button. If you want to earn a certificate for the courses or start your path towards a MicroMasters program credential, please visit the MicroMasters portal after you enroll.

** Two elective courses are needed to complete the MicroMasters Program Credential in DEDP. At least one elective must be an ADVANCED Elective course. For more information on DEDP MicroMasters program requirements, please visit our FAQ page**

Why are some countries poor, and some countries rich? Should the United States trade more or less with China? Should the United States have a universal basic income? What can we do to mitigate climate change? Why does racism persist and how can we fight it?

Economics shows you how to think about some of the toughest problems facing society -- and how to use data to get answers. This exploratory course is based on the recent book Good Economics for Hard Times and taught by Nobel-Prize winners Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo, whose cutting-edge research aims to answer these questions and more.

By specifically addressing today’s most pressing issues in the United States and other advanced economies, this course provides a broad survey of many strands of the current applied economics literature, designed for several types of audiences.

For learners who have not taken introductory economics courses that teach analytical tools and models, this course provides an accessible and intuitive introduction to how economic analysis is applied to current issues, and what those analyses find.

For learners who have studied the core abstract tools, concepts, and methods common in economics, this course provides a strong motivation for these concepts and allows learners to see how core tools are applied by current economic researchers.

Please use this link to access the syllabus and this link to access the course preview.

Course image is “Beginn bis Ende der Welcome To Hell Proteste”, Thorsten Schröder/t--h--s, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

What you’ll learn

  • How to use data to tackle some of the toughest problems facing society.
  • A more-realistic impression of what current economic research looks like than that typically provided by core introductory microeconomics and macroeconomics courses.
  • How modern tools of economists can serve society, what we have already learned and the policy implications, and where important work remains to be done.

Meet your instructors

  • Esther Duflo

    Esther Duflo is the winner of the 2019 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences. She is also the Abdul Latif Jameel Professor of Poverty Alleviation and Development Economics in the Department of Economics at MIT. She was educated at the Ecole Normale Supérieure, in Paris, and at MIT. She has received numerous honors and prizes including a John Bates Clark Medal for the best American economist under 40 in 2010, a MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship in 2009. She was recognized as one of the best eight young economists by The Economist magazine, one of the 100 most influential thinkers by Foreign Policy since the list exists, and one of the “Forty under 40” most influential business leaders under forty by Fortune magazine in 2010.

    To learn more, please click here.

  • Abhijit Vinayak Banerjee

    Abhijit Banerjee is the winner of the 2019 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences. He was educated at the University of Calcutta, Jawaharlal Nehru University, and Harvard University. He is currently the Ford Foundation International Professor of Economics at MIT. Banerjee is a past president of the Bureau for Research in the Economic Analysis of Development, a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the Econometric Society, and has been a Guggenheim Fellow and an Alfred P. Sloan Fellow. He is the recipient of many awards, including the inaugural Infosys Prize in 2009, and has been an honorary advisor to many organizations including the World Bank and the government of India.

Who can take this course?

Because of U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) restrictions and other U.S. federal regulations, learners residing in one or more of the following countries or regions will not be able to register for this course: Iran, Cuba, Syria, North Korea and the Crimea, Donetsk People's Republic and Luhansk People's Republic regions of Ukraine.