ECON 305 - Comparative Economic Systems
Fall 2014
Professor Elliott Parker
Office: AB 401-H
TR 9:30 - 10:45 AM
AB 101
Office Hours: TWR 2:00-2:45 PM
or email me for an appointment

For Printing: Short Syllabus

Course Description:
ECON 305 examines the major economic systems of the world, in both theory and practice. The approach will generally focus on encouraging a general understanding of how economic systems work and how economic theory interacts with government policy, history, and culture to explain economic performance. Economies examined in some detail will include several advanced market capitalist countries (e.g., the U.S., Japan, France, Sweden, and Germany), the former socialist economies (e.g, the former Soviet Union, Poland, and China), and other East Asian economies (e.g., South Korea and North Korea). We will also consider Iran as an example of an Islamic-based economy, and India as an example of an isolationist country that is now beginning to join the global economy.

Prior study in economics (ECON 102 and 103) is required, but this course will be less mathematical than other theory courses. It will, however, require you to become familiar with available data on economic performance. As a course which spends substantial time focused on the diversity of economies, ECON 305 meets the diversity requirement of the University Core Curriculum. One expected component of the diversity requirement is a rigorous writing requirement.

If you want to know why it is important to learn the material in this course, you might view this You-Tube video called, Americans are not stupid.  I find it more painful than funny, and I hope that it is not a statistically valid sample of my fellow Americans.

Product Details BOOKS:

The first three books are available at the ASUN Bookstore's Wolf Shop in Joe Crowley Student Union (JCSU), which will also do comparisons for you. The fourth is online.
  • Heilbroner, R.L., & W. Milberg (2007), The Making of Economic Society, 12th edition (Prentice Hall, paperback). ISBM 0131704257.
  • Helpman, E. (2004), The Mystery of Economic Growth. Belknap Press, paperback, required.
  • Baumol, W.J., R.E. Litan & C.J. Schramm (2009), Good Capitalism, Bad Capitalism, and the Economics of Growth and Prosperity. Yale University Press, paperback, recommended.
  • Maddison, A. (2006), The World Economy (OECD Development Centre Studies, PDF). Volume 1: A Millennial Perspective. Volume 2: Historical Statistics. Available for free online, and through the University Library.

Core Objectives and Student Learning Outcomes:

As a course which spends substantial time focused on the diversity of economies, ECON 305 currently meets the diversity requirement of the University Core Curriculum. One component of the diversity requirement is a rigorous writing requirement. In the new Silver Core, this course should satisfy Core Objective 11 (Global Contexts). This course will also develop a discipline-specific competency in CO1 (Effective Composition & Communication) and CO3 (Critical Analysis & Use of Information).

The Student Learning Outcomes are as follows:

  • Students will demonstrate knowledge of the economic concepts important to understanding how economies perform.
  • Students will demonstrate knowledge of how government policies can affect economic performance.
  • Students will demonstrate an understanding of major economic events in the major economies of the world, and how those events and associated government policies in those countries affected their economic performance.
  • Students will demonstrate an ability to collect, analyze and present data on economic performance in the world’s major economies.
  • Students will produce an original and well-written research paper on a general topic assigned by the instructor.
This course requires a significant amount of writing, and your ability to express yourself clearly in writing will significantly affect your grade.Grading will depend on:
  • Three Exams (two midterms and a final) -- each worth 20%. See the schedule below for tentative dates for the midterms, and the final schedule is set by the university.
  • Two Papers -- the first worth 10%, the second worth 20%.
  • Daily In-Class Quick Essays -- 10%.
Exams will be long, in-class, and closed-book. These usually include essays, requiring both an ability to express yourself in writing and a good understanding of the lectures and the assigned readings, though as my class grows ever larger I am experimenting with other formats such as multiple-choice and true-false questions. You will find the exams challenging. Papers will be assigned at least two weeks in advance of their due dates, and are expected to be in formal APA academic style. They will require additional research. Quick Essays are in-class assignments intended to help you reflect on something you learned each day.

Some of my old exams will be made available on Webcampus for study purposes.  A few will have keys included, but others won't.

What is the Difference between A and C students?


Read the university policy on academic integrity. Misconduct incorporates both cheating and plagiarism, and this includes both copying someone else's work as well as letting your work be copied, bringing in notes, text messaging or taking pictures of the exam, using other people's words or ideas and passing them off as your own, et cetera. One common example is a student who copies whole sentences and even paragraphs from an internet source, perhaps changing a few words here and there to pretend it is "different" somehow. Even if you then cite the source, it is still plagiarism if you do not put quote marks around the words you borrowed.

Any cheating will be severely punished, ranging from failing the exam or assignment at a minimum to failing the course and even expulsion from the university, in egregious cases or in cases where there is evidence of any prior offenses. Students who are caught cheating also lose their chance at college scholarships. 

I am serious as a heart attack about this. Every semester I catch somebody doing this who then claims ignorance of what is and isn't cheating, and I am tired of it. 

Academic Success Services:

Your student fees cover usage of the Math Center (784-4433), Tutoring Center (784-6801), and University Writing Center (784-6030). These centers support your classroom learning; it is your responsibility to take advantage of their services. Keep in mind that seeking help outside of class is the sign of a responsible and successful student.

Audio and Video Recording:

Surreptitious or covert video-taping of class or unauthorized audio recording of class is prohibited by law and by Board of Regents policy. This class may be videotaped or audio recorded only with the written permission of the instructor. In order to accommodate students with disabilities, some students may be given permission to record class lectures and discussions. Therefore, students should understand that their comments during class may be recorded.

School and Work:

Economics is essentially about making decisions when resources are scarce, and time is often our most scarce resource. Many of you work, but working too much while going to school makes it hard to focus on your studies and succeed in school. The College of Business Administration recommends the following maximum relationship between work and school:

Work Hours Per Week Credits Taken per Semester
10 15
20 12
30 9
40 6

These maximum recommendations work both ways. For example, a student working 10 hours per week should not take more than 15 credits and conversely, a student who is taking 15 credits should not work more than 10 hours per week. Of course, many of you will choose to exceed these maxima, but you should know that unless you have superpowers or take extremely easy courses, you are setting yourself up for lower grades, inadequate sleep, or other trouble. If you do not have scholarships or other means of support, then you might consider taking fewer credits per semester and an extra year or two to graduate.

Students with Disabilities:

Any student who qualifies with a disability is to provide his or her instructor with a letter from the Disability Resource Center stating the appropriate accommodations for this course. If you have a documented disability and wish to discuss how these academic accommodations will be implemented for this course, please contact the instructor during the first two weeks of class.

(Lecture Notes will be made available afterwards on Webcampus)

1.       Economic Growth and Performance

Read Heilbroner & Milberg, ch. 1; Helpman, ch. 1-3; Maddison, ch. 1.

1.1  Measuring Economic Growth and Performance

1.2  Markets and Government

1.3  What Makes Economies Grow?

The First Midterm Exam is tentatively scheduled for Thursday Sep. 25.

2.       Capitalism and its Alternatives

Read Heilbroner & Milberg, ch. 2-10; Helpman, ch. 4-7; Maddison, ch. 2-3; and CIA country studies for each economy studied.

2.1  The Developing World Economy

2.2  Economic Development and Policy in Western Europe: the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Ireland and Sweden

2.3  The United States and Western Offshoots

2.4  East Asian Capitalism: Japan, Singapore. South Korea and Taiwan

The Second Midterm Exam is tentatively scheduled for Thursday, Oct. 30.

3.       The Socialist Experiment

Read Heilbroner & Milberg, ch. 11-12; and CIA country studies for each economy studied.

3.1  The Soviet Union and Eastern Europe

3.2  Reform and Transition After the Collapse

3.3  China’s Development Experience

 4.      Economic Performance in the Rest of the World

Read Heilbroner & Milberg, ch. 13-15; and CIA country studies for each economy studied.

The Final Exam is scheduled for Tuesday, Dec. 16, from 12:30-2:30 PM

ECON305 Listserver / Newsgroup

I will set up a "List Service" mailing list for the purpose of conducting group discussions via email. If you find that you are not receiving e-mails from me, e-mail me to tell me and I will add you to the list.  If you are on the list and still not receiving messages, please check your spam filter since list messages are often blocked.
Only people actually subscribed to the list may send any email to the list.  The message you send will go to everybody who has subscribed, including me.  Try to keep the spam down.  Be thoughtful of others, keep on the subject as much as possible, and do not carry on private, irrelevant conversations on the list.  If you wish to make a reply to an individual, be careful not to send a copy to the list.  Also, do not flame!  Give other students the respect you would demand of them; do not insult them explicitly or implicitly, and do not say anything vulgar or improper.  Remember that I will read your messages, and even if you send something to an individual it is easy for him or her to forward it on to me.

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