I am "new" to economics but have some maths background (no analysis). Looking to learn how to read and make my own microeconomic models. Is there any online resources (or books) that can help me?

I would like it to walk through some key models used in microeconomics, behavioral is my interest, but most important to me is a good and simple guide. It will explain the notation used, for example why do all models have these complex equations with many integrals. It will also discuss other common assumptions, such as why certain distribution of variables are chosen (e.g., Poisson and exponential).

  • $\begingroup$ Hi Welcome to Econ.SE! The question is a little broad the eternity of the subject of microeconomics deals with economic modelling. $\endgroup$
    – EconJohn
    Commented Nov 2, 2017 at 3:43
  • $\begingroup$ I'm afraid a book/paper at the level of generality of your description may not exist. Gary Becker used to teach a graduate course on economic modeling, which would be close to what you're looking for. But I'm not sure that materials from that course exist in digital form, let alone be publicly available. $\endgroup$
    – Herr K.
    Commented Nov 2, 2017 at 3:45
  • $\begingroup$ @EconJohn It is not about the entirety of microeconomics per se, instead it is about understanding economic modeling through the lens of economic modeling 101 form (either notes or book) $\endgroup$
    – Xaked
    Commented Nov 2, 2017 at 3:47
  • $\begingroup$ @HerrK. Really? There is no current course on understanding economic models for the layperson or even one geared towards an undergraduate or master's student $\endgroup$
    – Xaked
    Commented Nov 2, 2017 at 3:48
  • $\begingroup$ Perhaps you can be a little more specific about your background. What if any economics classes have you taken? Math? Etc. $\endgroup$
    – user18
    Commented Nov 2, 2017 at 6:13

2 Answers 2


There's the well known step-by-step guide on "How to build an economic model in your spare time" by Hal Varian.


Based on further clarifications made in the comments that OP's interest is in behavioral, I'd recommend The Foundations of Behavioral Economic Analysis by Sanjit Dhami. The book covers, comprehensively, the various models in behavioral economics and how they are justified and applied. From the publisher:

This is the first definitive introduction to behavioral economics aimed at advanced undergraduate and postgraduate students. Authoritative, cutting edge, yet accessible, it guides the reader through theory and evidence, providing engaging and relevant applications throughout.

NB: The book is huge --- 1798 pages, and yet still modestly priced (£30 or $47). Definitely a bargain.

  • $\begingroup$ This is a nice resource, and I have seen it but, looking I am looking for a resource that explains some simple models and the maths. $\endgroup$
    – Xaked
    Commented Nov 2, 2017 at 2:20
  • $\begingroup$ @Xaked: Are you just looking for books on microeconomic theory then? Any specific areas of application (labor, development, politics, health, behavioral, etc.)? MWG has tons of micro models, are those what you're looking for? $\endgroup$
    – Herr K.
    Commented Nov 2, 2017 at 2:30
  • $\begingroup$ No, I have looked through most of these texts. I am looking for a resource that walks through, in detail, the logic of the idea and then models it step-by-step explaining all of the maths. I often see a model with all of these integrals and equations and I cannot understand where they are coming from, how someone makes sense of them, and why some decisions were made (like assuming a Poisson or exponential distribution). Further, I have an idea and I would like to learn to properly model it out with knowledge of what maths should be used $\endgroup$
    – Xaked
    Commented Nov 2, 2017 at 2:36
  • $\begingroup$ @Xaked: In what topics or areas of application? $\endgroup$
    – Herr K.
    Commented Nov 2, 2017 at 2:39
  • $\begingroup$ I am open, though my interest is more behavioral. If the resource is good enough I don't care what the topic is, I can port it over. $\endgroup$
    – Xaked
    Commented Nov 2, 2017 at 2:54

I would suggest that you practice macro or micro models in excel first, and then you will be able to figure out where the integrals etc. come from in abstract/theoretical models. You can find some useful books here


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