PUBPOL 639: Quantitative Methods of Program Evaluation
This course introduces students to multiple regression analysis and other tools of causal inference and program evaluation. The course will focus on applying these tools to real data on various policy topics. Applications will be drawn from a wide range of policy areas including education, welfare, unemployment, discrimination, health, immigration, the environment, and economic development.
The course has two highly related objectives:
1) Train students to thoughtfully produce their own empirical research. With the wide availability of data and statistical software, there are very few technical barriers to conducting empirical research. All you need is an internet connection and Excel. However, producing good and convincing empirical research is another matter entirely. In this course, we will develop the core analytical tools of single and multi-variable regression and also discuss fixed effects, difference-in-difference, natural experiment, instrumental variables, regression discontinuity, event study, and matching approaches. Throughout the focus will be on real world applications, understanding the strengths and weaknesses of each approach, and communicating methods and findings in plain English.
2) Train students to critically consume empirical research done by others. We will teach you to read and understand empirical research and to judge whether it constitutes a firm basis for policy. This should serve you in your future role as a policy or business analyst, researcher, policy-maker, manager, or voter.
Semesters Taught: Winter 2010, Winter 2012, Winter 2013