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Economic Theory

Economic theory is at the center of the Cowles Foundation’s research mission. The Economic Theory group at Yale has a distinguished legacy of outstanding scholars and is characterized by a large faculty whose research spans virtually all specializations.

Yale has one of the largest and finest research groups in economic theory in the world. Our faculty have research interests in all the major fields of microeconomic theory, including but not limited to decision theory, general equilibrium, game theory, contract theory, mechanism design, information design, learning, matching, and misspecified models. The Economics Department has a long tradition in training aspiring theorists and has produced top scholars in the field.

Following its longstanding tradition of supporting research in theoretical economics, the Cowles Foundation provides a uniquely supportive environment for work in microeconomic theory. The Cowles Foundation funds a regular influx of short term and long term academic visitors, postdocs, and doctoral students from other institutions, who contribute to the economic theory research community.

Seminars and Conferences

The Department runs two weekly workshop meetings in economic theory. The Microeconomic Theory Workshop hosts speakers from Yale and other universities to report on their latest research and to provide overviews of developing research areas. The Micro Theory Lunch enables graduate students, faculty, and outside visitors to present their work at various stages of development. In addition, the program runs a weekly Micro Theory Breakfast, intended primarily for our graduate students to assist them in moving forward with their own research agendas.

Every year, the Economic Theory Program hosts a summer conference to bring together top economists in the field to present new research. Recent conferences have covered a wide variety of topics, such as novel approaches to mechanism/information design, foundations of belief elicitation, information provision in markets and political settings, manipulability of voting schemes, firm coalitions and market structures, robust tools for welfare analysis, organizational culture, and more.

For more information about the Economic Theory summer conferences, see the Cowles Conferences and Workshops page.

Graduate Teaching and Research

The Department offers an intensive two-course sequence for all students in the PhD program: Microeconomic Theory I (Econ 500a) and II (Econ 501b) is a two-course core sequence. Material covered includes consumer and producer theory, choice under uncertainty, general equilibrium theory, game theory, information economics, and mechanism design. The Department also offers two other two-part course sequences for advanced theory students. Advanced Microeconomics I (Econ 520a) and II (Econ 521b) examine in more depth foundational issues in game theory, information economics, mechanism design, and social choice. Mathematical Economics I (Econ 530a) and II (Econ 531b) focus on issues in general equilibrium theory. Typically, these sequences are taken by PhD students in the second year, including both those who will end up specializing in microeconomic theory and those who will do applied research using advanced tools of microeconomic analysis.

For detailed field descriptions, please see the Department’s PhD Program Page.