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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.

start date
11 weeks
12-14 hours per week

About this course

The course is free to audit. Learners can take a proctored exam and earn a course certificate by paying a fee, which varies by ability to pay. Please scroll down for more information on the verified and audit track features and see FAQ articles for more information on the pricing structure. Enroll now in this course by selecting the "enroll now" button at the top of the page.

This course is an INTRODUCTORY elective course under the Public Policy Track of the MITx MicroMasters program in Data, Economics, and Design of Policy (DEDP), which provides a path toward the Master’s in DEDP at MIT. Five total courses (3 core, 2 electives) are needed to complete the Public Policy MicroMasters Program Credential in DEDP. 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

Comparing the Audit and Certificate Tracks

Image is of a table explaining the different features of the verified and audit track. For an text table please use the link below.

(Click here for a text based version of this table.)

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

    Abdul Latif Jameel Professor of Poverty Alleviation and Development Economics in the Department of Economics

  • Abhijit Vinayak Banerjee

    Ford Foundation International Professor of Economics

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.