Learning Economics Online

Josh Wright —  16 February 2007

Inspired by Thom’s wonderful post on market “wonder moments,” which was itself inspired by the availability of free class notes and syllabi from the likes of Yale, Notre Dame and MIT on the web, I thought I would share a few of my favorite free, or at least not very expensive (and maybe not so well known) online economic treasures:

1. The UCLA Working Paper series.  I have learned a lot of economics here over the past 8 years.  The papers go back to 1971 or so include some seminal pieces in micro theory, game theory, labor, IO, macro, and economic history.  While I’m mostly interested in the I.O. stuff, there is really something for just about everybody including some early working paper versions of classics, some unpublished gems, and lots of law and economics-relevant material.  Definitely worth checking — as would be the online archives at many of the top economics departments.  If anybody has links to these, please post them in the comments!

2. The RAND archives.  How are these for some free economic gems?  First, the sticking with the UCLA theme, here is a series of Armen Alchian’s economic analyses of various topics while working for RAND in the 1950s.  See, e.g., this one co-authored with Ken Arrow and William Capron entitled, “An Economic Analysis of the Market for Scientists and Engineers.”  And a vault of economic reports from Jack Hirschleifer ranging from “some fundamentals of exchange theory” to “a steady state model of conflict.”  How about Harold Demsetz’s 1962 analysis of “The Economic Gains from Storm Warnings: Two Florida Case Studies?”  One can wander about the RAND archives for hours and hours and find things like this work on duopoly and n-person games from John Nash, these from Herbert Simon, “The le Chatelier principle in linear programming” from Paul Samuelson, or how about “The Problem of Local Monopoly” (a study of local cable television regulation) by one R.A. Posner?  Ok, some of these are not free.  Maybe these particular economists or subjects are not your cup of tea — though I cannot imagine why not — But if you browse around the archives for long enough, I promise you find something fascinating!

3. For the more technical types, and maybe not of much interest to most of our readers, is a directory of the “math camp” lecture notes from the Yale econ phd program,  a huge directory of economics notes courtesy of econphd.net, some notes from Guido Imbens on maximum likelihood and GMM estimation (or another set here),  and a plethora of great industrial organization notes (and lots of other useful stuff!) from Eric Rasmusen (theory and empirics).

I have to keep a few secret sources to myself, but for students of economics I think there is a lot of great stuff here just waiting to absorbed.

One response to Learning Economics Online


    I’ve benefited tremendously from the working papers posted on the website of the University of Chicago Law School. There are several series of working papers. The ones TOTM readers would probably find most interesting are the Law and Economics series (here) and the Public Law and Legal Theory series (here). For a list of other series, look here.