Welcome to CORE’s Economy, Society, and Public Policy (ESPP).

In order to be well-governed, a democracy needs voters who are fluent in the language of economics and who can do some quantitative analysis of social and economic policy. We also need a well-trained cadre of researchers and journalists who have more advanced skills in these fields.

Many students in other disciplines are drawn to economics so that they can engage with policy debates on environmental sustainability, inequality, the future of work, financial instability, and innovation. But, when they begin the study of economics, they find that courses appear to have little to do with these pressing policy matters, and are designed primarily for students who want to study the subject as their major, or even for those going on to post-graduate study in the field.

The result: policy-oriented students often find they have to choose between a quantitative and analytical course of study⁠—economics⁠—that is only minimally policy oriented in content and that downplays the insights of other disciplines, or a policy and problem-oriented course of study that gives them little training in modelling or quantitative scientific methods.

Economy, Society, and Public Policy changes this.

It has been created specifically for students from social science, public policy, business and management, engineering, biology, and other disciplines, who are not economics majors. If you are one of these students, we want to engage, challenge, and empower you with an understanding of economics. We hope you will acquire the tools to articulate reasoned views on pressing policy problems. You may even decide to take more courses in economics as a result.

The book is also being used successfully in courses for economics, business, and public policy majors, as well as in economics modules for Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE), and masters’ courses in Public Policy.

This textbook is the result of a worldwide colla­boration among researchers, educators, and students who are committed to bringing the socially relevant insights of economics to a broader audience. We made it freely available online because we believe this understanding can contribute to richer participation of everyone⁠—not just experts⁠—in shaping our economies, and help to underpin an understanding of policy that is clearly based on evidence. We are grateful to the contributions of this entire team, and to the Nuffield Foundation for supporting the project financially.

More about CORE, our ebooks, and our mission

If you want to know more about the content of this book and its companion text The Economy, an ebook designed for economics majors, and how both differ from a conventional introduction to economics, you can find more detail here.

For instructors who are considering adopting the book as the basis for either one-semester or two-semester courses, we have written a guide to help you use Economy, Society, and Public Policy.

Economy, Society, and Public Policy is intended to provide hands-on experience for students in using data to understand economic questions. For each unit there is an accompanying empirical project called Doing Economics. These address important policy problems using real data. Doing Economics: Empirical Projects is available as a free ebook. We have also produced a guide to Doing Economics for instructors.

The CORE team is a large and growing family. Join us! Let us know what you think of this book including things that we might improve.

Wendy Carlin, Samuel Bowles, Margaret Stevens, and Eileen Tipoe for the CORE team
August 2019