Syllabus for Hanson's GMU class:
Economic Problems and Public Policies

Economics 309, meets noon-1:15, Monday, Wednesday, during Fall 2022, Nguyen Engineering Building 1109

Instructor: Robin D. Hanson, Assoc. Professor, Economics (,
Phone: Office 703-993-2326, Cell 703-201-8129.
Office Hours: Officially Monday 10:30-11:45a, but I'm available at far more times; email or call.

Catalog Entry:

Economic problems in light of current and proposed public policies. Topics include environmental issues, international trade policies, and regulatory issues and their historical roots. Limited to three attempts. Recommended Prerequisite: ECON 100 or 103 and 104 or permission of instructor.
Class Concept: After reviewing key econ concepts, we will engage with many big policy issues, practicing using econ to identify which way each consideration pushes on each policy question.


Defended Opinion Topics
  1. Should we lower public min food quality standards to match private standards?
  2. Should taxpayers be allowed to authorized creating of tax career agents?
  3. Should US citizenship be transferable? If so, how exactly?
Due Dates: Grade Weights: Class Participate 5%, 13% per Quiz and paper, 17% final.

22,24 Aug Review of Econ, Humans
29,31 Aug Paternalism, Talk
7 Sep Insurance No Class Monday
12,14 Sep Food Quiz Monday
19,21 Sep Fertility
26,28 Sep Medicine Quiz, Paper Due Wednesday
3,5 Oct Medicine No Class Wednesday
11,12 Oct School, Jobs Note Monday class meets Tuesday
17,19 Oct Land, Finance
24,26 Oct Law Quiz, Paper Wednesday.
31Oct, 1Nov No Class Monday
7,9 Nov Emergencies, Innovation
14,16 Nov TBD
21,23 Nov TBD Paper Due Monday
28,30 Nov World, Systems
12 Dec Final Exam


This one text is required: The Elephant in the Brain: Hidden Motives in Everyday Life.

All other readings are free online at