Weather, Traffic, Housing Prices & Health Care: The Role of Unintended Consequences in Policy Design

Aug 04, 2006


Dr. Russell Roberts 
Professor of Economics and Smith Chair
Mercatus Center at George Mason University 

What do weather, traffic, housing prices, and health care have in common? All are topics of endless discussion among Californians, and outside the state, each issue has lent California considerable recognition, for better or for worse.

So, it is fitting that acclaimed scholar Russ Roberts will draw upon these real world examples to talk about market processes and their application to decision making and outcomes. Dr. Roberts will explore the economic concepts of incentives and opportunity cost using familiar illustrations from everyday life, and will expand the discussion to how these concepts relate to effective policymaking.

This course will highlight the importance of understanding the underlying causes of social problems when designing policies to diminish or solve them. Specifically, Dr. Roberts will discuss traffic congestion, soaring housing prices, and health care issues such as mandated benefits and "Fair Share" legislation.

Dr. Roberts is a professor of economics at George Mason University. He has taught at prestigious universities including UCLA and Stanford and has authored two popular books, The Invisible Heart: An Economic Romance and The Choice: A Fable of Free Trade and Protectionism. The Choice was named one of the top ten books of 1994 by BusinessWeek and one of the best books of 1994 by the Financial Times. Professor Roberts is a frequent contributor to National Public Radio's Morning Edition and has written for the New York Times and Wall Street Journal. He is a research fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution and is the features editor of the Library of Economics and Liberty.