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Economy, Society, and Public Policy

Core Economics website Team

September 2019

ISBN: 9780198849841

632 pages

In Stock

Price: £36.99

A new way to learn economics for students of any discipline: understand how the economy works, and how it can be made to work better.



Economy, Society, and Public Policy is a new way to learn economics. It is designed for students studying social sciences and other disciplines who want to understand how the economy works and how it can be made to work better. By addressing problems like inequality, climate crisis and financial instability, ESPP introduces economics as policy-oriented yet also quantitative and analytical.

  • Students begin their study of economics by understanding that the economy is situated within society and the biosphere
  • Economists are interested in establishing causation does a policy work so, students learn how to identify causation (not just correlation) through the use of natural experiments, lab experiments, and other quantitative methods
  • Social interactions (modelled using simple game theory) and incomplete information (modelled using a series of principal-agent problems) are introduced from the beginning. As a result, phenomena studied by the other social sciences such as social norms and the exercise of power play a role
  • The insights of diverse schools of thought - from Marx and the classical economists to Hayek and Schumpeter - play an integral part in the book
  • The way economists think about public policy is central to ESPP. This is introduced in Units 2 and 3, rather than later in the course.
  • Students analyse the government as an actor large enough to solve as well as to cause problems
  • Students work with real data and learn transferable, quantitative skills by analysing policy problems. The online Doing Economics provides a step-by-step guide for the quantitative analysis of a policy problem related to each ESPP unit.

About the Author(s)

Core Economics website Team

Table of Contents

    1:Capitalism and democracy: Affluence, inequality, and the environment
    2:Social interaction and economic outcomes
    3:Public policy for fairness and efficiency
    4:Work, wellbeing, and scarcity
    5:Institutions, power, and inequality
    6:The firm: Employees, managers, and owners
    7:Firms and markets for goods and services
    8:The labour market and the product market: Unemployment and inequality
    9:The credit market: Borrowers, lenders, and the rate of interest
    10:Banks, money, housing, and financial assets
    11:Market successes and failures
    12:Governments and markets in a democratic society


We chose ESPP because we have a very diverse cohort some students with Economic and Maths A level whilst others do not, so teaching a traditional course was hard most students were bored whilst others were struggling to keep pace. We wanted a more up-to-date, data-driven syllabus that covered the topics students wanted to discuss (inequality, climate change, etc.). I have just have finished teaching the first cohort of nearly 500 students and they seem to be highly engaged. - Carlos Cortinhas, University of Exeter, UK

ESPP was a very successful text for non-Economics majors. They really appreciated how they could get a great introduction to economics that focused on the real world and data, and was meaningful to their own experience of the world. - Mark Dodd, University of Adelaide, Australia

Other economics textbooks teach you about individual tools. ESPP, on the other hand, teaches you how to address complex issues such as inequality and unemployment by simultaneously using all the tools in the toolbox. As a public policy student, this approach allowed me to evaluate current events and policy proposals through an economically comprehensive, rather than fragmented, lens. - Alaina Leggette, MPA student at Columbia University (SIPA)

ESPP is an outstanding resource for teaching economic principles to students who will not major in the field. It provides an accessible yet comprehensive introduction to the economic ideas that are essential for understanding politics and policy. - Matthew DiGiuseppe, Leiden University, Netherlands

I would recommend ESPP as an excellent resource for a wide range of courses teaching introductory economics with a focus on public policy. It takes some of the key material from The Economy and re-packages it for students who are not specialising in economics, and who want to see the subject in a wider context. I appreciate the increased focus on data, with links to Doing Economics. - Stephen Wright, Birkbeck, University of London, UK

We were warned by the course leader before the start that we would not see the world in the same way after studying the module and this proved to be the case. While tackling the deep issues of global inequality and market failures Core Economics website also gave us quick insights into specialist areas and analytical tools so I was able in the exam to solve a pure strategy Nash equilibrium and answer questions on the use of monetary policy and explain models of welfare economics. I particularly liked the snapshots of great economics thinkers and interactive graphics which brought complex ideas to life. The course succeeded in refreshing and updating my thinking and gave me confidence to work in more depth within the economics field as a financial journalist. -

The dynamic approach makes a sound rejoinder to the critics of the subject as the "dismal science" and its teaching which shows exactly how it is as relevant today as it was during the formative years of Adam Smith or the crisis years of Keynes. - Simon Greaves, FT.com and Student in MSc PPE, Birkbeck, University of London