Econ 438: Fall 2023


This course has an applied econometrics focus. The topics include voting behavior, betting markets, sports, and various issues in microeconomics. The requirements are three empirical papers. The first, worth 20 percent of the grade, is an extension of an existing article, where some of the results are duplicated and then extended. A voting example is provided if a student wants to use it. The second, worth 30 percent of the grade, is more of the same but with no example provided. The third, worth 50 percent of the grade, is a more original paper within the range of topics covered in the course, where data are collected and analyzed using whatever econometric techniques are relevant. For seniors this paper can possibly be the beginning of a senior essay. The aim of the course is to get students doing original empirical research using econometric tools. It is also to prepare students to read empirical papers in economics and other social sciences.


Two semesters of econometrics or statistics, one of which has to be Econ 117. Ideally, Econ 123 should also have been taken, but it is not an absolute requirement. Econ 135 and Econ 136 are substitutes for Econ 117 and Econ 123. Special permission from the instructor is needed if Econ 117 or Econ 136 has not been taken. Also required is introductory microeconomics.


Class attendance is required, and there will be considerable class participation.

Statistical Software

Any statistical software is fine. Class time will not be taken going over software.


The following list of readings is tentative. Some papers may be added and some subtracted, partly depending on students' interests. And not all papers may be required reading. Students will be asked to present some of the papers. Also, time will be taken for students' presentations of their own papers. All readings are online except for your econometrics text.

August 30, September 1, 6: Econometric Methodology and Tools

September 11, 13: Explaining and Predicting Voting Behavior

September 18, 20: Explaining the Voting Behavior of Members of Congress and Student Presentations of the First Paper

First paper due Monday, September 25, before class.

September 25, 27: Political Betting Markets

October 2, 4: Announcement Effects on Stock and Bond Markets

October 9, 11: Topics in Sports Economics--1

October 16, 23, 25: Topics in Sports Economics--2 and Student Presentations of the Second Paper

Second paper due Monday, October 30, before class.

October 30, November 1: Natural Experiments

November 6, 8: Grades, Wine, and Extramarital Affairs

November 13, 15: Minimum Wage, Minimum Driving Age

Outline of third paper due Wednesday, November 15, before class.

November 27, 29: Is the Harvard Admissions Process Biased Against Asian Americans?

December 4, 6: Student Presentations of the Third Paper

Third paper due Thursday, December 14, midnight.

Possible Other Readings

News Items and Miscellaneous