Seminar Quantitative Economics Summer 2021

Online teaching
The seminar will be offered online. Each week we will have a regular seminar meeting where participants present and discuss.

Teaching needs a stable and reliable environment. We must commit in time to a predictable format that works well for you under many forseeable conditions. Following erratic changes of daily political assessments does not improve quality.

For this course online teaching seems to worked rather well. Online presentations and online discussions of your research are becoming more and more important. In this seminar you will learn to carry out independent research. You will also train your online presentation skills.

Learning aims:
During the seminar participants will learn to
  • formulate their own research question,
  • develop a laboratory experiment designed to answer this question,
  • conduct this experiment with other seminar participants as a pilot,
  • analyze the collected data,
  • present their results as a talk, as a poster, and as a written essay.
The language for this seminar will be English.
There are many topics in quantitative economics. The seminar by Cornelius Schneider will focus on Designing Experiments on Crime and Punishment.

This seminar aims to provide its participants with hands-on insight on the scientific process to produce sound research in experimental economics. As you might already assume by its name, the experiment is at the heart of this fairly new approach in economic research. Together we will walk through each step necessary to eventually implement such an experiment. If done properly, it should be suitable to provide new and scientifically credible findings. By the end of this seminar you will have designed your (perhaps first?) own experiment.

In order to make experimental methods easier to grasp, we will focus on issues in the realm of crime and punishment. Building upon Garry Becker’s Nobel Prize winning work on the rational choice model of crime, experimental economics increasingly contributed to a) understand the motives leading up to criminal behavior, b) quantify the individual and societal costs of criminal behavior and c) evaluate the efficiency of policies regulating or preventing crime. Current state- of-the-art papers will serve to both illustrate the different experimental methodologies and to inspire your own research idea for your own “criminal” experiment. The discussed methods are of course not limited to this field but universally applicable to other topics of economic research. The first sessions will set the stage by briefly introducing the key concepts of experimental economics and providing you with practical advice about the whole experimental research process (e.g. how to “find” data, etc.). Thereby, examples in current research will illustrate the core experimental concepts as well as different practical approaches to implement an experiment. This part is held in a lecture format and hopefully sparks your own research ideas. In the second part, you will become active. You are asked to present an own research idea and flesh out a comprehensive research design throughout the rest of the course. Specifically, participants will regularly present their progress on their own experiment along the following steps:

  1. Identify and formulate a (interesting) research question.
  2. Initial idea for an experimental design which is suitable to answer the question at hand.
  3. A more elaborate and revised experimental design; based on the discussions of the previous sessions.
  4. Where do you find your data?.
    • Option 1: collect own data or.
    • Option 2: discover relevant existing datasets or other (creative) sources of data.
  5. Empirical strategy.
  6. Final presentation.
    • Option 1: Presentation of results or.
    • Option 2: An elaborate research proposal including your empirical strategy and anticipated results.
Here is an outline of the first three sessions of the seminar.
Wed., 10:15-11:45 (at least for the first three sessions, we will then renegotiate).
Cornelius Schneider
Basic knowledge in empirical work and statistics; interest in scientific work. The Lecture MW24.2 might be helpful but is not a formal requirement.
Grading will be based on:
  • Course participation
  • Presentations
  • Short final research proposal (about 1000 words)
Preparatory Reading
  • Mostly Harmless Econometrics: An Empiricist's Companion, Princeton UP, NJ.
  • Becker, Gary S. (1968), Crime and Punishment: An Economic Approach. Journal of. Political Economy, 76(2), p. 169-217.