Resources for undergraduates
A boring disclaimer: Links to publisher pages are not endorsements of any particular vendor.
Recommended reading (and listening)
Urban economics (books about cities are full of economics):
- The Death and Life of Great American Cities by Jane Jacobs
- Nature’s Metropolis: Chicago and the Great West by William Cronon
- The Origins of the Urban Crisis by Thomas Sugrue
- The New Geography of Jobs by Enrico Moretti
- City Economics by Brendan O’Flaherty
A medley of other books:
- The Worldly Philosophers by Robert L. Heilbroner
- Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way to Fight Global Poverty by Abhijit V. Banerjee and Esther Duflo
- Nudge: Improving Decisions about Health, Wealth, and Happiness by Richard H. Thaler and Cass B. Sunstein
- Recessions and Depressions: Understanding Business Cycles by Todd A. Knoop
Podcasts on economics and public policy:
- Planet Money
- The Weeds
- The Impact
- The Uncertain Hour
If you’re considering a PhD in Economics
Is it right for you?
- Advice about doing a PhD tends to focus on the mechanics of gaining admission. If you’re intent on doing a PhD, it’s important to rack up the right credentials and to be strategic about applying, and I’ve listed some relevant links below.
- But advice about applying can sometimes put the cart before the horse. A PhD is a huge investment of time, energy, and self, and you should think long and hard before embarking on one.
- There are plenty of good reasons to consider pursuing a PhD. If you’re reading this, you likely have a deep intellectual interest in economics, and graduate school can be an intellectual feast. On a practical level, a PhD in Economics is a versatile credential with many possible career paths: academic appointments in economic departments and professional schools, positions in government and in international organizations, and private-sector jobs in tech, finance, economic consulting, and other industries. Most PhD economists go on to do well-paid, interesting work.
- Alongside these positives, you should consider the sacrifices that a PhD entails. PhDs are hard. They’re emotionally and psychologically as well as intellectually challenging, and they take a long time, occasionally five years but typically six or more. Doctoral work is often a stressful and isolating experience, especially once you finish coursework and set off to do original research. Many PhD students struggle with anxiety and depression, not least in economics programs. Ask yourself whether the benefits are worth the costs: both are quite real.
Consider a full-time RA position
- Before committing to the PhD path, seek out research opportunities first: write a senior thesis if your university allows it, and look for research assistant positions both during and after college. Spending a year or two post-college as a full-time research assistant can help you figure out if a PhD is a good fit; if you decide that it is, it’ll increase your chances of admission and prepare you to hit the ground running with research projects once you finish coursework.
Post-college research assistant positions:
- Federal Reserve Board
- Federal Reserve System
- NBER RA postings
- Jameel Poverty Action Lab (JPAL)
- International Monetary Fund
- AEA thread about RA positions
- Twitter thread with RA listings
The application process:
- Preparing for graduate school from the American Economic Association
- A range of advice and perspectives from an old CSWEP newsletter
- Advice on the application process from Susan Athey
Some worthwhile textbooks for the PhD-bound:
- Mathematics for Economists by Carl P. Simon and Lawrence Blume
- Advanced Microeconomic Theory by Geoffrey A. Jehle and Philip J. Reny
- Optimization in Economic Theory by Avinash K. Dixit
- Mastering Metrics: The Path from Cause to Effect by Joshua D. Angrist and Jörn-Steffen Pischke
- Mostly Harmless Econometrics by Joshua D. Angrist and Jörn-Steffen Pischke