Class Central is learner-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.

University of Pennsylvania

Microeconomics: When Markets Fail

University of Pennsylvania via Coursera


Unlock Unlimited Opportunities: Get 50% Off Your First Month of Coursera Plus
Perfect markets achieve efficiency: maximizing total surplus generated. But real markets are imperfect. In this course we will explore a set of market imperfections to understand why they fail and to explore possible remedies including as antitrust policy, regulation, government intervention. Examples are taken from everyday life, from goods and services that we all purchase and use. We will apply the theory to current events and policy debates through weekly exercises. These will empower you to be an educated, critical thinker who can understand, analyze and evaluate market outcomes.


  • Costs and Profits + Perfect Competition
    • In the first part of the course we learnt that if we allow market forces to work we reach an efficient outcome: the maximum benefit that can be generated by a market. The second part of the course explores cases where the markets fail to accomplish our goals. This week sets up the benchmark case of the perfectly competitive market: a model we will modify in the next few weeks. We define Perfect Competition, learn to model it graphically and discuss some key results in terms of long run profits and implications for efficiency.
  • Monopoly
    • A monopoly is a case where there is only one firm in the market. We will define and model this case and explain why market power is good for the firm, bad for consumers. We will also show that society as a whole suffers from the lack of competition.
  • Monopoly Continued
    • Monopolies come in various types: one price monopoly, natural monopoly, price discrimination and monopolistic competition. This week we will expand the basic monopoly model to cover these cases and then explore market outcomes in each case. We will also discuss how government may intervene in such cases to benefit society as a whole and increase the surplus generated by the market.
  • Externalities + Public Goods
    • Two classic cases of market failure will be defined and explored: externalities and public goods. We will define each case, demonstrate why the market fails to provide the efficient outcome and suggest interventions through either marked design or regulation.
  • Asymetric Information and Inequlity
    • Up to this point we assumed that there is full information in the market. We are now ready to relax this assumption as we introduce the concepts of moral hazard and adverse selection. We learn that asymmetric information may lead to market failure and we discuss some remedies. The last segment in the course is a reminder that besides efficiency, equity is also a criteria we all care about. A short introduction will explore how economist measure poverty and inequality.

Taught by

Rebecca Stein


4.6 rating, based on 5 Class Central reviews

4.8 rating at Coursera based on 614 ratings

Start your review of Microeconomics: When Markets Fail

  • i m a college student adn i didnt exactly know what to do for project but as soon as i found this course and really very happy as i m able to presnt it and learn so many new things with this course.
  • In Market failure, in economics, is a situation defined by an inefficient distribution of goods and services in the free market. In market failure, the individual incentives for rational behavior do not lead to rational outcomes for the group.

    Market failures can be solved using private market solutions, government-imposed solutions, or voluntary collective actions.
  • Profile image for Gabriela Elvira Ulrich Alvarado
    Gabriela Elvira Ulrich Alvarado
    I took a bartendes course. I learned how to server and prepare a variety of drinks and cocktail s'. I also conluded a Computer Operator course. This Computer Operator course also included a cachier and secretary course. I passed the Computer operator course but never paid forbthe certificate. The technical school closed down.
  • Profile image for Raj Jha
    Raj Jha
    I give 5 star because it is a great learning experience for me . This is my favourite besides one so I recommend all student learning this course.

Never Stop Learning.

Get personalized course recommendations, track subjects and courses with reminders, and more.

Someone learning on their laptop while sitting on the floor.