Dissertation Topics in Economics

Economics dissertations can lead to fascinating research.
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Once you're ready to get your doctorate in economics, you need to prepare yourself to write the dissertation. The first step are usually to choose your major professor, or dissertation director, as well as your dissertation committee members. To do this, you need to match your research interests with those of your committee members, which means you'll need a good general idea of your dissertation topic.

1 General Interests

The rule of thumb for dissertations is to find a subject that fascinates you but with which you can exercise some objectivity. The dissertation topic should also be one that has yet to be comprehensively researched, since you need to find an original topic or angle. The best way to start is identify a good general area of interest, preferably one which is currently a popular research area in economics, such as environmental economics, health economics or labor and development economics. If you don't know how to determine this, consult your major professor or your library's dissertation databases.

2 Environmental Economics

Health economics research is likely to be highly desired.
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One dissertation possibility in environmental or agricultural economics would be to investigate the financial viability of renewable electricity, or possibly the long-term price of renewable energy. Another would be a cost-benefit analysis of EPA remediation guidelines on housing costs, where you could concentrate on specific remediation efforts, such as that on radon. Other possibilities include looking at the benefits of certain types of management practices (such as crop rotations) on local farms, or examining the negative effects of a specific crop disease, crop pests or climate change on a specific crop, such as grapes used for wine production; such a study could be limited to a specific region to keep it manageable.

3 Health Economics

With all the recent changes in health-care policy in the United States, dissertation topics that examine effects of the new laws will make researchers valuable in academia and in the workplace world. You could choose a specific economic theory or method, such as microeconomics, and investigate the effects of the Affordable Care Act on health policy. Another option would be to determine what factors either encourage or inhibit the formation of public health districts that consolidate the delivery of services. If your interests are more international, you could research the Third World economic and biophysical impediments to disease; for example, you could investigate malaria control.

4 Development Economics

Other possibilities if you are interested in international economics, particularly labor economics, would be to examine comparative economic performances between two areas, such as Mexico and Panama. Another potential topic could be the enforcement of business reforms or regulations in Russian regions, given their diversity of governance methods; such a topic could lead to research on small business development. A less traditional but just as viable dissertation topic could look at the economics of alcohol consumption in various developing nations, especially how it affects economics through mortality rates and consumer welfare.

Anthony Fonseca is the library director at Elms College in Massachusetts. He has a doctorate in English and has taught various writing courses and literature survey courses. His books include readers' advisory guides, pop culture encyclopedias and academic librarianship studies.