Empirical Research Methods

Bocconi University, 2014 - 2015

The course will introduce students to the main tools used for data analysis and applied empirical research, focusing in particular on the estimation of causal relationships. The methods covered will allow students to address questions that are relevant from a social, economic, and political perspective: Which are the economic returns of one additional year of schooling? Do longer prison sentences deter crimes? Do better paid politicians perform better? Does health insurance make people healthier? What’s the economic impact of immigration flows? These are just examples of the type of questions that will motivate the use of empirical methods. At the end of the course, students should be able to go through the multiple stages of empirical research: searching for interesting questions, devising an appropriate research design, collecting the data, and implementing the analysis. Throughout the course, the craft of empirical design will be discussed both during class lectures and during computer lab sessions, where sample datasets will be analyzed with the use of the statistical software Stata.