Launching today: Economy, Society and Public Policy version 1.0

ESPP cover image
By Tim Phillips
Tue 27th August 2019 | What's new?, Blog

Today we can unveil the 1.0 version of Economy, Society and Public Policy (ESPP), designed to introduce the power and excitement of economics to a wider audience – whether they are non-specialists taking a course in economics, in the workplace, or learning for themselves.

ESPP 1.0 is online now and, as always, is free and open-access. As with our other publications, it is the joint work of The CORE Team. You can find out more about who has contributed to ESPP here.

The 1.0 launch of our second ebook is another major milestone for CORE. ESPP has been two-and-a-half years in the making: at the beginning of 2017, we were given a grant by the Nuffield Foundation to develop a course for students who were not majoring in economics. The idea was that they could learn economic methods by engaging with policy issues such as inequality, climate change and innovation.

Our idea was to produce units that were inspired by The Economy, our text for economics majors that has been used in 206 countries, by more than 87,000 learners that we know of, and more than 8,300 teachers. ESPP shares some of the discussion, figures and models, but is focused on public policy and has been designed to be accessible to students from every background and discipline.

If you have seen or taught last year’s beta version (it lives on, here), you may be wondering what’s different in version 1.0. The structure remains the same, but there are five major improvements:

1. A major rewrite in response to feedback

We pride ourselves on listening to ideas and opinions from a wide range of sources, including reviewers and academics and teachers, but also students’ experiences, so that we can crowdsource a better textbook.

We successfully pioneered this approach for The Economy, and we have applied it just as rigorously here. This spring and summer we rewrote, adapted and updated large sections of ESPP to make it easier to teach and more readable, but crucially to bring the empirical, policy-led approach out even more. Teachers and students alike told us that this was what interested them most about economics.

2. Interactive data charts at Our World in Data

For the first time, many of ESPP‘s figures now have links to the website of our partner Our World in Data (OWiD). You can now click on the button to see the latest data in an interactive format. Look for a clickable button underneath many of the data figures in ESPP:

For example here’s ESPP Figure 4.2 (Figure 3.1 in The Economy too) in OWiD’s interactive version.

Top left and right: a video timeline, and a button to download the data.  Bottom left and right: the sources in full, save the output as an image, and note the buttons for social media.

3. Combining labour market, product market, and the economy in a single model

There’s a major innovation in Unit 8.

Since day one of the project, we have argued that product and labour markets are fundamentally different in their structure (as intermediate and advanced students will learn). We do not help introductory students when we draw crossing curves of labour demand and labour supply, and then create reasons why the empirical data on wages, inequality and unemployment don’t match what this model tells us.

We believe our treatment of the labour market has always been a better introduction. But, for the first time, we have found a way to integrate it into a single model of a firm that sets a price and wage, extend it to the aggregate economy, and show the outcome for unemployment and inequality.

“One way to think about it is that it’s CORE’s alternative to consumption, production and general equilibrium,” says Wendy Carlin, who leads our steering group, You can listen to Wendy explaining how the model works in Session 9 of the 2019 CORE workshop.

4. Closer integration with Doing Economics

It has been a busy summer, as we are also improving and expanding the 12 empirical projects in Doing Economics. While you can use either text independently, we believe they complement each other even better than before – not least because many teachers have adopted ESPP for courses with a strong quantitative element. You will find a guide to the matching empirical project at the end of each unit of ESPP. (And, if you want to find out how teachers have used it in their courses, Session 6 of the 2019 CORE workshop will help.)

5. Windows, Android and Apple iBook apps

Watch this space! They will be available later this week. Apps mean you can access the material even when you don’t have a data connection. Check back on our website for the links.

A print edition, too

On 12 September at 6:45pm, Oxford University Press will launch the print book at the ‘Developments in Economics Education’ conference at the University of Warwick. You can order copies online here.

Just as with The Economy, the printed version will have an affordable price. It will sell for £34.99 in the UK. And as always, we continue to be free and open-access online.

 

We hope you agree with us that the 1.0 version of ESPP is the best text available to teach these topics to non-economics students. If you are teaching it already, please tell us about your experience (we will be covering some of the feedback we have already in our next blog). If you have feedback on any element of the 1.0 version, or are planning to use ESPP in your teaching and would like to contact a teacher who has experience using the text, please let us know.