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Beginner’s guide to microeconomics for the public sector

Crawford School of Public Policy | Executive course
Economics, Data Analysis and Decision Making
Policy Essentials

Summary

Course participants will develop an understanding of the key insights from economics and how they can be applied in policy and government settings. The economic approach to understanding decision-making will be examined in detail with special attention paid to key concepts such as: opportunity cost; incentives; trade-offs; markets and market failure. A key aspect of the course is developing a framework to think about how to blend markets with government to achieve the best outcomes for society.

See related courses: Beginner’s guide to macroeconomics for the public sector, Beginner’s guide to economics for the public sector series.

Course overview

Microeconomics analyses the behaviour of individual consumers, households and firms. It provides a framework for understanding decision-making by all of these agents in the economy. It examines motivations, incentives and decision-making processes. While its direct relevance to businesses is well understood, the insights and solutions that can be gained from microeconomics are equally important for the public sector. Successful policy design and implementation is greatly facilitated by a solid understanding of the responses and reactions of those influenced by policy.

This course takes you through basic concepts of microeconomics, including trade-offs, opportunity cost, supply and demand, taxes and subsidies, public goods, externalities and market failure. Competition, monopolies and regulation will also be examined. The course uses case studies, and competing viewpoints will be explored.

If you have ever wondered what economists really mean when they talk about key microeconomic concepts, this course is for you.

This course is paired with a beginner’s course in macroeconomics. Because they are inter-related, it is recommended you attend both courses.

Core topics:

  • Key insights and introduction to the economic way of thinking
  • Markets and prices: demand, supply and elasticities
  • Government intervention: price controls
  • Government intervention: taxes
  • Government intervention: market failure, externalities and public goods
  • Summary: role of government

Students will learn:

  • Key insights from microeconomics
  • Supply and demand
  • The role of markets and the importance of prices
  • Market failure and policy responses
  • The application of key insights to government and policy-making
  • We finish the course by drawing it all together to think about how to blend the role of government with markets.

Who should attend?

This course is designed for individuals at any level of their career who are interested in gaining a deeper understanding of basic economics and its usefulness and application to policy issues. The course is designed for those with no economics background.

Course presenter(s)

A/Prof Paul Burke

Paul Burke is an economist at the Australian National University’s Crawford School of Public Policy. He works on the economics of energy, the environment, and the economies of the Asia-Pacific. Paul has won a College prize for his teaching excellence and is a frequent contributor to Australian discussions on economic approaches to environmental challenges.

Updated:  25 October 2021/Responsible Officer:  Crawford Engagement/Page Contact:  CAP Web Team