Seminars offered in ACYR2022:
- Time Series Econometrics
- Applied Microeconomics / Public Economics
- Historical Topics in Economics
- Applied Research in Microeconomics
- Empirical Topics in Consumer Economics and Marketing
- The Art of Economic Theory
- Primary Research Methods in Economics
- Data Visualization
- Quantitative Analysis of the Macroeconomy
- Understanding Causality
Time Series Econometrics
In this capstone course you will learn and apply time series econometric techniques to analyze the relationships between various economic variables over time. The initial part of the course will focus on learning specific time series regression techniques (and issues) in order to apply the methods to an economic topic of your choosing. An important part of your capstone thesis will be to focus on a specific economic phenomenon that unfolds over multiple time periods (economic growth, the business cycle, asset prices, or even the spread of Covid-19.). As part of this effort you will read and review numerous academic articles on your topic. Your course grade will be determined by meeting regular deadlines throughout the semester, by turning in a final capstone paper at the end of the term, and presenting your findings to the class.
Applied Microeconomics / Public Economics
The Applied Microeconomics/Public Economics Capstone course will focus on the application of fundamental tools of microeconomics to a series of important policy and industry specific issues. Topics may overlap with other specialty fields, such as public finance, health economics, and energy issues, as well as analytic frameworks such as cost benefit analysis and cost effectiveness analysis that are typically applied to the public sector. Potential research topics include: the impact of higher minimum wages; the effect of eliminating or reducing regulations on firm operating costs; evaluating efforts to lower drug prices; the cost of renewable energy relative to fossil fuels; and, in a sports economics context, the impact of antitrust exemptions on the competitive nature of sports, and research related to the public financing of stadiums.
Historical Topics in Economics
This capstone focuses on historical topics in economics. In particular, we will use panel data techniques to answer an economic question of your choosing between 1700 and 1950. Although this capstone is open to all historical topics, a special emphasis will be placed on historical topics in international trade, including patterns of trade during the 1800s and the Smoot-Hawley tariff war of the 1930s.
Applied Research in Microeconomics
During your studies in the FQE major, you have confronted a wide variety of interesting and open questions in our discipline. In this capstone course, you will choose a question in a particular sub-field of microeconomics and investigate it using multivariable regression analysis. In addition, you must effectively apply at least one “advanced technique” from your studies of economic statistics and/or econometrics. For example, you might estimate a discrete choice model of teenagers' labor force participation before, during, and after the Great Recession. You might use instrumental variable analysis to examine the link between pre-K education and future educational attainment. Or, you could put together your own collection of various municipalities' economic characteristics, over many years, and apply panel data techniques to gain insights into the factors associated with economic inequality. The topic of “applied microeconomics” is broad enough to cover many of your potential interests; your work in this course will focus on leveraging the econometric techniques that you have learned throughout the FQE major.
Empirical Topics in Consumer Economics and Marketing
This capstone focuses on applying quasi-experimental econometric methods to answer a policy-relevant question in the fields of consumer economics and marketing. Students will review three primary quasi-experimental techniques: difference-in-differences, regression discontinuity, and instrumental variables. Each method will be reviewed within the context of a topical and approachable paper in the fields of consumer economics and marketing. Students will then develop a novel research question in conjunction with a secondary dataset they will have to find and acquire from an online source, write up an analysis plan with one of the discussed quasi-experimental techniques, and conduct the analysis. The final deliverable will be a research paper (minimum of 20 written pages) with an introduction, literature review, a conceptual framework for their analysis (using equations when appropriate), presentation of results (using figures and tables as appropriate), and a discussion and interpretation of their findings. Example topics in this space include (but are not limited to) analyzing the economic impacts of ballot initiatives and propositions, studying purchasing behavior in response to advertising or other types of marketing, conducting a rich hedonic analysis of different products, and the exploration of economic mechanisms behind certain types of consumer behavior.
The Art of Economic Theory
In this capstone course, you will learn how to do four things: (i) formulate an economic question; (ii) define a model through which a satisfactory answer might be obtained; (iii) identify an appropriate solution concept that predicts and/or explains behavior within your model; and (iv) relate your predictions and/or explanations to the original economic question at hand. We will begin the course by reading some classic papers in economic theory, with a special emphasis on the topic of asymmetric information. With some examples of how to structure an economic theory paper in mind, you will then submit a research proposal outlining your research plan. We will meet throughout the semester to ensure that you are making adequate progress towards its execution. The final deliverable will be a research paper addressing points (i)-(iv). It is strongly recommended that you have taken SE400 (Advanced Microeconomic Theory) and/or SE450 (Game Theory).
Primary Research Methods in Economics
Many questions of interest in economics do not have readily accessible data needed to provide compelling answers. This capstone will focus on research methods related to primary research, including primary source data collection and digitization as well as survey development and implementation. You will be expected to develop a research question that requires primary research, implement a survey or conduct primary source data collection, and analyze the data using appropriate empirical methods. Risks and rewards associated with primary research will be evaluated critically. Future applications of methods developed in this course will be useful in a variety of settings, including graduate school research, product and market analysis, and consulting, among other applications.
This capstone course emphasizes the importance of data visualization in research. In the era of “big data”, being able to succinctly and clearly describe patterns in large-scale datasets is a highly-valued skill. In this course, students will learn best practices in cleaning and analyzing data and choosing the appropriate visualization based on the intended messaging. Enthusiasm for Stata and Excel is preferred.
Quantitative Analysis of the Macroeconomy
In this course you will combine your knowledge of macroeconomic theory, microeconomic theory, and econometrics. Specifically, you will learn how to analyze macroeconomic data through the lenses of economic theory, and using methods you have learned in econometrics. We will review the basics of macroeconomics models, focusing on households’ and firms’ decision making, as well as on major tools of government fiscal and monetary policies. Then, we will learn how to construct meaningful mappings between models and data. At each step, we will try to think critically about interpretation – how informative our results are, and how they are limited by both the data available and the models we use.
The final product of this Capstone is an empirical project where you will carry out a quantitative analysis to address a specific macroeconomic question. I will provide you with a list of possible topics but you are welcome and encouraged to find the ones that interest you. Throughout the course, you will be completing partial assignments that would form building blocks towards the final project (data description, literature review, description of the model / underlying economic theory, etc.)
The main goal of this course is for students to understand that causality claims are always contingent on an identifying assumption. The course will focus on five main techniques that economists use to establish causality from data: randomized control trials, instruments, discontinuities, differences in differences, and lab experiments. Students will apply one or more of these techniques to answer an economic question of their choosing.