Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Mankiw Squeezes His Harvard Econ Students

Harvard economics professor Gregory Mankiw is requiring students of his introductory economics course to purchase a $132 access code to an online textbook and set of online materials, reports the Harvard Crimson.

According to the campus rag, "Unlike in previous years, students in Economics 10: “Principles of Economics,” the foundational course for the Economics Department, cannot purchase used textbooks, which often offer a cheaper alternative to the new books. Instead, they must purchase access to the MindTap learning system, an online platform developed by the textbooks’ publisher that includes test preparation materials, problem-sets, and quizzes for the course. An online copy of the textbook is included on MindTap’s website, and students also receive a loose-leaf hard copy.

"The access will expire after 12 months, so students can not resell their textbooks, Mankiw said."

Students aren't happy with Mankiw's aggressive attempt at IP protection and attempt to squeeze out any consumer surplus.

The paper reports:
[S]ome students and the Crimson’s editorial board have argued that the mandatory price is too expensive for an introductory course that is a prerequisite for the economics concentration, as well as other social science concentrations.

“For those students who aren’t privileged enough to buy new textbooks, this is really expensive and burdensome,” Irene Limb ’18, a student in the course, said. 
Limb also questioned the necessity of using MindTap instead of a free website, such as Canvas, the online learning platform that the College’s courses use. 
 As of Monday evening, 647 undergraduates were enrolled in Ec 10, the College’s largest class this semester.



  1. Mankiw s clearly an inspired teacher. With this single gesture he illustrates the concepts of price inelasticity, monopoly, opportunity cost, rent-seeking, subjective utility, etc. etc.

  2. This is not new. My accounting textbook with access code was $399. Also, my math text (specially published for the school) was $199 unbound. And I don't go to Harvard...

  3. Squeezes? Wenzie my dear lad, aren’t you a big fan of I.P.? Shouldn’t you be cheering on your buddy Mankiw and the protection of his Keynesian book? Your headline should read, “Mankiw the brave protects vital ideas, from theft!!”

  4. Everyone sees the writing on the wall. Publishers, etc are getting while the getting is good. The internet is going to change all of this. Not only is their ridiculous system around book publishing going to topple, but the whole degree system is going to topple, or more likely morph into a series of varying kind of private & public certifications. The govt will retain a lock on degrees related to things they influence like education and health care, but as an example, the trend toward alternatives in IT is already well on it's way. Anyone who goes to get a "degree" in the traditional sense for IT isn't thinking straight.