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Interesting Lectures and Seminars

Theoretical Economic Policy IIB

Lin Chen
2nd year student in the Master's Program of the Graduate School of Economics

Professor Matsumoto gives clear explanations about welfare economics

If you were to ask a number of university students, "What do people study in welfare economics and social choice theory?" I guess that around 70% would not know what the target of the subject is. Even if you were to ask the same question to students studying economics, I think there would only be a very few who could give a clear explanation of this. If we look at the history of welfare economics and social choice theory, I think we can find one of the reasons behind this.

The history of economics is very short compared with other subjects. In particular, the past of welfare economics and social choice theory is extremely short in the history of the development of economics. The term "welfare economics" was first used in the book The Economics of Welfare that was published in 1920. This book was written by the British economist Arthur Cecil Pigou. Moreover, the book by the American economist Kenneth Arrow called Social Choice and Individual Values in 1951 led to the world coming to know about social choice theory.

The content of these two books is the main study target of this class. Welfare economics and social choice theory is one of the new fields in social sciences that seeks to improve the welfare of people that make up society by devising ways to design the basic structure of society and ways to plan economic policy.

Professor Yasumi Matsumoto, who is in charge of this class, has experience of giving lectures at various universities overseas. The class proceeds mainly in English, so is recommended not only for Japanese students but also overseas students who are not proficient in Japanese and who can communicate only in English. The flow of the class is that the professor gives a careful commentary and an additional explanation for presentations by students on either welfare economics or social choice theory. He also corrects any errors that there might be. This is not a class that only concentrates on theoretical research, because there is also analysis from the viewpoint of choice theory on actual economic news. There are also times when the class is filled with laughter.

There are still few people researching in the area of welfare economics and social choice theory, so this is a major which has not been studied in as much depth as others. There are many hidden treasures (= discoveries), so I recommend this class to students that have a strong spirit of study with an interest in new discoveries and surprises.