Public policy investigates what government does or, in other words, the outcomes of decisions made at local, regional, national, and international levels of governance - as well as the consequences they bring about. We explore three central, interrelated questions regarding the nature of governmental decision-making processes having as their aim the enactment, implementation, and evaluation of public policy. These are: 1) what frameworks, explanatory theories, and ways of knowing illuminate how and why certain types of policies get made? 2) What is the role of the policy analyst - an academically trained professional - in describing, understanding, predicting, and designing policies? And, 3) what are the consequences of different policy designs on: public welfare and well-being, other areas of social discourse and interaction, and the concept of democracy itself?
This course provides an introduction to public policy analysis. It is designed for students who may be planning a career in public or non-profit sectors. The primary goal is to help students understand the implications of public policy for different pursuits. The class examines various approaches to policy analysis by considering the concepts, tools, and methods used in economics, political science, and other disciplines. Students apply and critique these approaches through case studies of current public policy problems.
This course applies microeconomic theory to analysis of public policy. It builds from the microeconomic model of consumer behavior and extends to operation of single and multiple markets and analysis of why markets sometimes fail. We will study empirical examples to evaluate theory, focusing on the casual effects of policy interventions on economic outcomes. Topics include minimum wages and employment, food stamps and consumer welfare, economics of risk and safety regulation, the value of education, and gains from international trade.