Justin Wolfers

Professor of Economics and Public Policy

Courses taught:


Undergraduate Economics, University of Michigan

Economics 101: Principles of Microeconomics

Fall 2015

An introduction to microeconomics, taught using intuition, and real-world examples.

MPP Classes, Ford School of Public Policy at the University of Michigan

Microeconomics A

Fall 2015

This course begins a two-term sequence designed to provide students with an understanding of the economic implications of public policies and with analytic tools useful in system design and policy planning. Major topics include prices, resource allocation, governmental involvement in economic activity, and the operation of market systems.

MBA Classes taught at Wharton

BPUB 621 (Core class): The Government and Legal Environment of Business

The business environment has market and nonmarket components. The market component is characterized by the economics of an industry and a firm's position in it. The 'non-market' component is the broader political, legal, and civil context in which companies function.  This course addresses how businesses manage their interactions with political and regulatory institutions, the law, and the public.

Course Overview, Winter 2010

Syllabus, Winter 2010

Teacher ratings: 2005: 3.4/4.0; 2006: 3.6/4.0; 2007: 3.4/4.0; 2008: 3.3/4.0; 2009: 3.4/4.0; 2010: 3.2/4.0

BPUB 720: Behavioral Economics and Prediction and Sports Betting Markets

This class considers an intriguing—and growing—set of non-traditional markets, including trading (or gambling) on the outcome of sporting events, elections, political risks, corporate outcomes, public policy and economic statistics.  We will explore these markets, drawing on insights from economics and psychology, and highlighting the parallels between these markets and other existing markets.

Syllabus, Spring 2010

Teacher ratings: 2006: 3.2/4.0; 2007: 3.6/4.0; 2008: 3.5/4.0; 2009: 3.5/4.0

MBA classes taught at Stanford Graduate School of Business

POLECON 230 (Core class): Strategy in the Business Environment

This course addresses managerial issues in the social, political, and legal environments of business. Cases and readings emphasize strategies to improve the performance of companies in light of their multiple constituencies. Cases are set in both international and U.S. environments. Topics include integrated strategy, activists and the media, legislation affecting business, regulation and antitrust, intellectual property, Internet privacy, and international trade policy.

Syllabus: Spring 2003 (pdf)

POLECON 527: Finance, Behavioral Economics, and Sports Betting

By drawing on findings from psychology, economics and finance, the newly emerging field of behavioral finance has yielded important insights into the operation of financial markets. We have learned that the market is not perfectly efficient, that equilibrium prices reflect human foibles, and these insights can be used to derive profitable trading strategies. This course both introduces the mathematical and psychological tools of behavioral finance, and applies them to an intriguing new context - sports betting markets. We will first study the structure of these $200 billion per annum markets, examining the relevant institutions, and highlighting the parallel between betting on the ball game, gambling at the ponies, and purchasing stock in your favorite firm on the NYSE. We then turn to discussing recent advances in behavioral finance and cutting-edge attempts to apply these to sports betting. Assessing potentially profitable trading strategies with a critical eye, we will discuss not only investment opportunities, but what these findings reveal about both human psychology, and the operation of markets more generally.

Syllabus: Pre-term 2002 (pdf)

Teacher Ratings: Fall 2002: 4.9/5.0

POLECON 235: Business Ethics (Core class)

An important component of a company's interactions with its environment is how its managers deal with ethical issues. Recent accounting scandals have demonstrated that managerial decision making almost always has ethical implications. More often than not, however, those ethical implications are viewed as implicit byproducts, rather than explicit determinants, of business decisions. In P235 ethics is made explicit taking the perspective of managers who must formulate policies to address issues with ethical dimensions.

Syllabus: Pre-Term 2003 (pdf)

G300: Research in Non-Market Strategy

This course provides an opportunity for students to apply classroom learning on P230, "Strategy and the Business Environment" to a real business setting, addressing the non-market strategy issues faced by a specific firm, lobby group, or strategic actor. Students will develop research skills, further delve into analytic frameworks that apply to the formulation of truly integrated strategies, and learn more about the specifics of an industry or issue of interest.

Syllabus: Spring 2003 (pdf)

Undergraduate economics classes taught at Harvard

Sophomore Tutorial: The Economics of Marriage and Divorce

This course explores a new and burgeoning literature that applies the tools of economics in order to gain insight into marriage, divorce and the family. We will start by evaluating what we mean by the “economic approach” to the family. The standard economic assumption of self-interested maximization will be contrasted with insights from sociology, philosophy and feminist theory. We will then look at what motivates people to form a family and, once formed, how families make decisions. Further, we will examine models in which differences in opinion may be resolved through bargaining, threats, or cooperation. Finally, theories of the family will be applied to one of the most contentious social policy issues of our time: the decline in traditional family structures. We will ask why divorce rates are rising so rapidly, and what the main effects of this may be. Our aim is to develop your skills as an economist, as a social policy analyst, and as a multi-disciplinary scholar. Because this research agenda is still in its infancy, we will come fairly quickly to the frontiers of economic knowledge, which holds the prospect that your final paper can make an innovative contribution.

Syllabus (pdf)

Teacher Ratings: Spring 2000 4.7/5.0; Spring 2001 5.0/5.0