Comparing the Atlas with CliffsNotes


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Study guide material on economics

Cliffs Notes, and its Canadian predecessor, Coles Notes, have for decades provided study guides to literary works and to high school and university courses. The current version, called CliffsNotes (link on right and reference below), is operated by education publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and provides free online study guides for a range of subjects, including some of interest to MPP and MPA students (particularly Accounting Principles, Economics, Principles of Management, Statistics).

As can be seen from the comparison below, the Atlas concepts are more focused on public management problems and are generally more advanced than the entries in CliffsNotes.


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Comparing the entries for economics

It is interesting to compare the Atlas entries and the actual CliffsNotes treatment of economics.

The CliffsNotes study guide’s 14 subcategories under Economics are similar to the 18 topics used in the Atlas under Economic Analysis and Macroeconomic Policy:

Economic Analysis

The Study of Economics

Supply, Demand, and Equilibrium

Consumer Theory and Elasticity of Demand and Supply

Commodity Taxes and Subsidies

The Price System and Price Regulation

Trade, Adjustment, and Protectionism


Producer Theory and Competition

Monopoly and Price Discrimination

Labour Markets, Transfers, and Personal Taxes

Public Goods and Commons Problems

Asymmetric Information, Signaling, and Game Theory

Macroeconomic Policy

The Study of Macroeconomics

Wealth of Nations and Economic Growth

Growth, Capital Accumulation, and the Financial System

Business Cycles and Unemployment

Inflation and Monetary Policy

Government Spending and Fiscal Policy

The 4 sub-sub categories under the CliffsNotes Demand, Supply, and Elasticity are fewer than 11 Atlas concepts under Supply, Demand, and Equilibrium in the table below, and the treatment of Market Equilibrium, for example, is more extensive than the CliffsNotes Equilibrium Analysis (see, accessed 26 April 2016.)

Core concepts associated with one Atlas topic
Change in Demand vs. Change in Quantity Demanded

Change in Supply vs. Change in Quantity Supplied

Consumer Surplus

Demand Curve

Demand Curve Shifts

Gains from Trade

Market Equilibrium

Normal Good vs. Inferior Good

Producer Surplus

Supply Curve

Supply Curve Shifts


CliffsNotes, Economics, at, accessed 26 April 2016.

Page created by: Ian Clark, last updated 23 July 2016.

Image: CliffsNotes Study Guides, at, accessed 26 April 2016.