Term Paper Topics


Chapter 2:  Ancient and Medieval Economic Thought

·          Investigate discussions of division of labor in Xenophon and Plato and compare their concepts and conclusions to Adam Smith’s notion of specialization and division of labor.

·          Analyze the different viewpoints expressed in Plato’s Republic and compare these to modern views and government structures.

·          Analyze the medieval concept of just price in light of Friedman’s explanation.

·          Analyze a policy or policies of the medieval Church from an economic perspective.

·          Compare Arisotle’s model of exchange with later developments in the theory of exchange, investigating the relevance to change today.


Chapter 3: Mercantilism

·          Is Mercantilism alive today?

·          Analyze and evaluate Eli Hecksher’s analysis of mercantilism vs. Ekelund and Tollison’s analysis.

·          Is it possible to maintain a favorable balance of trade?

·          Conduct an analysis of mercantile policies in other countries (current or historical).

·          Apply the doctrinal and policy approaches to another historical or modern system of thought.


Chapter 4: Economics before Adam Smith

·          Compare Mercantilist policies with Physiocratic policies.

·          Analyze the Tableau Economique in light of the modern circular flow of the economy.

·          Is Economic Sociology an over extension of economic analysis?

·          Analyze and evaluate the contributions of the Physiocrats and their immediate predecessors in light of modern monetary theory.


Chapter 5: Adam Smith

·          Investigate and explain Smith’s views on mercantilism.

·          Compare Xenophon, Plato, and Smith on specialization and division of labor.

·          Compare Smith and Mill on the role of government

·          Similarities and differences in The Theory of Moral Sentiments and The Wealth of Nations

·          Smith’s relevance in modern economics


Chapter 6: Classical Economic Analysis (1)

·          Compare and contrast the quantity theory of money espoused by the mercantilists, the pre-classicals, and modern economics.

·          Relevance of the Malthusian Population Principle in Third World Countries.

·          The Natural vs. Artificial Identity of Interests: Necessary or Unnecessary Justification for Government?

·          Analyze attempts to measure utility throughout the history of economics.
Chapter 7: Classical Economic Analysis (2): Ricardo

·          Conduct an analysis of the Corn Law controversy and its impact.

·          Compare and contrast the theories of rent developed by West, Malthus, Torrens, and Ricardo.

·          Compare and contrast Senior and the Austrian theory of roundabout production.

·          Analyze the validity of Say’s Law in light of modern economic research.

·          Analyze Ricardo’s theory of value in comparison to a Marxian theory of value.


Chapter 8: Classical Economic Analysis (3): Mill

·          Conduct an analysis of Mill’s policy views and evaluate their relevance in contemporary society.

·          Analyze the similarities and differences in the work of Ricardo and Mill.

·          Analyze the differing interpretations of the Stationary State.

·          Discuss Mill’s acceptance and recantation of the wages - fund doctrine.

·          Discuss Mill’s departures from laissez faire: cases and rationale.


Chapter 9: Economic Policy in the Classical Period

·          Analyze the private and public interests behind the passage of the Factory Acts.

·          Analyze a modern-day labor regulation that is promoted by private interests.

·          Compare Mill’s position on ex ante equality with modern day government policy.  (Do contemporary governments promote ex ante or ex post equality?)

·          Examine Mill’s position on equality of women in light of modern day feminist ideals.

·          Find evidence and apply Chadwick’s contract management to a contemporary industry.

·          Compare Smith’s views on government with Mill’s views on government.


Chapter 10: Karl Marx

·          Compare Ricardo and Marx on the labor theory of value.

·          Analyze the extension from Hegelian dialectic to dialectic materialism.

·          Analyze and compare the views of production of Marx, Ricardo, and Mill.

·          Analyze Smith and Marx on the division of labor; can both be right?

·          Analyze the methodenstreit from a private industry perspective.

·          Compare Rosher’s views on profits prices, money, the church, etc. with Mill or Smith.


Chapter 11: Neoclassical Theorists: Cournot and Dupuit

·          Analyze and compare Cournot’s duopoly analysis with modern oligopoly and game theory.

·          Compare and contrast the theoretical developments of Cournot and Dupuit.

·          Analyze price discrimination as a pricing mechanism of modern public goods.

·          Explore and analyze the contributions of Charles Ellet to microeconomics.

·          Analyze the success of the French and German engineers in economics.

Chapter 12: Microeconomics in Germany and Austria

·          Compare Ricardo and Von Thunen on cost differences in agricultural production

·          Compare and contrast the value theories of the Austrian and Marshallian followers.

·          Analyze Bohm - Bawerk’s impact on modern day capital theory.

·          Compare Menger, Wieser and Bohm - Bawerk on value.

·          Analyze the development and use of the equimarginal principle in economics.


Chapter 13: Microeconomics in England: Jevons

·          Analyze the development of the equimarginal principle by Grossen and Jevons.

·          Compare and contrast Dupuit and Jevons on utility theory.

·          Analyze the influence of Bentham on Jevon’s development of marginal utility.

·          Investigate and analyze Jevon’s use of statistics in light of modern econometrics.

·          Analyze the usefulness of the indices created by Jevons.


Chapter 14: Alfred Marshall

·          Apply Marshall’s concept of the short run, a moderate period, and the long run to a modern day industry.

·          Trace the development of Marshall’s internal and external economies to externality theory.

·          Compare Marshall, Cournot, and Dupuit on the use of mathematics in economic analysis in light of modern usage.

·          Compare Pigou, Marshall, and Coase on the efficient solution to externality problems.

·          Compare Marshall’s development of partial equilibrium analysis to the general equilibrium analysis of Walras.


Chapter 15: Leon Walras

·          Compare Walras, Hicks, and Arrow on tatonnment.

·          Compare and contrast Walras and Marshall on utility.

·          Explore the Correspondence (edited by Jaffe) for common themes in Walras’ writings.

·          Analyze the validity of Walras’ law.

·          Explore the criteria for Pareto optimality in the context of a modern public policy debate.


Chapter 16: Thorstein Veblen

·          Compare and contrast Veblen and Marx on the theory of business cycles.

·          Compare Galbraith’s prescription for the provision of public goods with the traditional neoclassical view.

·          Analyze Mitchell’s influence on the use of twentieth century economics.

·          Compare Veblen, Galbraith and Mill on the role of government in society.

·          Is Veblen’s theory of conspicuous consumption a legitimate economic explanation for the rise of the “yuppies” in the 1980’s?

Chapter 17: Chamberlin and Robinson

·          Revisit and analyze the Taussig - Pigou controversy.  Can new insights be gained?

·          Trace the evolution of imperfect competition in the 20th century.  Should it replace the competitive model?

·          Compare and contrast Pigou, Dupuit, and Robinson on price discrimination.

·          Analyze the usefulness of market structure classification developed by Chamberlin, Machlup, and Fellner.

·          Analyze railway pricing in the works of Hadley, Taussig, Edgeworth, and/or others in light of price discrimination and joint supply.


Chapter 18: John Maynard Keynes

·          Analyze Keynes’ objections to say’s law espoused in The General Theory.

·          Compare Keynes’ ideas with modern Keynesian and Post-Keynesian thought.

·          Analyze the impact and consequences of expansionary monetary and fiscal policy.

·          Is the Keynesian liquidity trap real or imagined?

·          Compare and contrast the neoclassical and Keynesian / New Keynesian views on obtaining full employment in the economy.  Where do you stand and why?


Chapter 19: Contemporary Macroeconomics

·          Compare the role of income in the theories of Friedman and Keynes.

·          Analyze the evolution of the quantity theory from the classical period to contemporary economics.

·          Has rational expectations theory been a help or hindrance in forming sound policy?

·          Compare and contrast the advantages and disadvantages of monetary and fiscal policy.

·          Analyze the role of expectations in relation to consumer behavior and economic performance.


Chapter 20: Austrian Economics

·          Compare the Austrian theory of money with Friedman’s monetary theory.

·          Analyze support for the gold standard, from Mises to contemporary economists.

·          Compare and contrast Austrian economics with the neoclassical view of competition.

·          Compare and contrast Menger, Jevons, and Marshall on value.

·          Analyze Schumpeter’s support for the entrepreneur and the dynamic process of competition.

·          Is Schumpeter’s idea of an entrepreneur valid in contemporary society?


Chapter 21: Public Choice and Regulation

·          Analyze the decision to provide a public good in a town or state familiar to you.

·          Conduct an empirical analysis of a regulation to find the economic “interests” behind it.

·          Employ the rent seeking paradigm to analyze an industry undergoing regulatory change.

·          Compare the Austrian view of regulation with the Chicago school.

Chapter 22: Contemporary Microeconomics

·          What changes in the US economy have contributed to the increased opportunity cost of household production?

·          Analyze the use of time in the analyses Senior, Bohm - Bawerk, and Marshall in light of contemporary economics.

·          Compare Marshallian demand theory to the notion that the demand for market goods is a derived demand.

·          Analyze the application of economics to traditionally sociological issues.  Are these productive contributions or is this taking economics too far afield?