ECO 231W

Undergraduate Econometrics

Change to handling project time

Because the McKenzie lecture will be this Friday at 4pm, we had to modify the timing to hand the project. The project is due at 3 pm on Friday (instead at 5 pm, as it was originally announced). Please see the post Handing the Project for details.

The Final

To find the place and time of the Final, look in the calendar page.

The final has one material question, and one essay question. The material question is in the same style as in the midterms. In fact, most items will be the same or similar to the ones in the previous midterms. I may come up with a new question or two, but the previous midterms are really the best guide. I have no intention of surprising you. The material question is worth 70% of the exam grade.

The essay question gives you either a topic, or sometimes a specific research question. You are supposed to write how you would go about doing research on that topic. You can find examples of essay questions in the previous finals I published in the
downloads page. The essay question is worth 30% of the exam grade. Here I give you more details and guidance which may be useful in preparing for the essay question in the exam.

Content: you must explain things in a fair amount of detail. For example, what would you be looking for on a data sets, and which problems do you expect to encounter? You must be specific. “I will check for measurement error in the most important variables” is better than not saying anything, but I’m really looking for “I am expecting a possible measurement error in ***, because of ***. I will try to establish if this is indeed the case by *** (describe action you will take, which can involve looking in the data, in the questionnaire, in the codebook, in another data set [what kind], in the literature [which literature]. You must think about it in the specific case). How will you try to solve it? Can you? How? Do you anticipate it will be basically impossible? What will you do in this case? Which bias do you expect?

Structure: I suggest that you prepare a clear essay structure in advance, where you are sure you will cover every aspect you must discuss in an organized manner. Give the matters their due importance. You are not repeating the last class, you are adapting it to an actual situation. For example, I told you there that you should check for sample selection at a certain point. It was just quick reminder. However, you must discuss this in some detail in the situation, give it a separate paragraph. Which type of sample selection? How do you suppose you will find that out in this specific case? What will you do, etc.

Style: there is no restriction to the size of the essay. We can’t avoid this: flow, style and grammar matter. We don’t particularly reward those, but indirectly we do. We do specifically reward the organization and clarity of your arguments.


I know that you must feel overwhelmed, and also perhaps scared at not knowing what will come. Don’t think this way, because it is not true. The final is not that different from the midterms, and you can prepare very well using the prep questions. The essay is in the same style: you know what to expect, you just don’t know the situation. Take a moment to appreciate the fact that although this course was indeed a lot of work, you can answer a question about how you would go about doing a research project on your own. One semester ago you would not be able to even start answering this question, and now you can go all the way in detail. In spite of all the worry about grades that fill your mind most of the time, try to find some satisfaction in what you actually learned: no grade, no bad day, no bad luck is going to take this away from you. Good luck, though luck is hardly necessary.

Handing the Project

You must hand the project on Friday 05/05 at 3 pm at Harkness 116G. The project TA Alexis will stay there until 3:45 pm. Notice that the due time is 3 pm, so Alexis will stay there longer only as a courtesy. If you arrive after 3:45 pm you may not find him anymore, you will have missed the deadline and severe penalties will apply.

Project Consultation Meetings

It is time to start thinking about the final project. To incentivize this, and also to help you form your project idea, we will be offering a special set of meetings. Here is how they work:

From Monday 04/24 until Friday 05/03, the project TA (Alexis) will be holding special consultation meetings. The meetings are 10 minutes long, but you should leave about 20 minutes open for this activity.

The meetings are individual. You will bring your idea about which critique point you will pursue for the project, and the strategy you are planning (evidence you are intending to use, data sets you plan to explore, etc.) to the meeting. Cristian will hear you out, and help you as much as he can given how much you prepared, and the path you decided to take. In some cases, he may tell you that your idea is not very good, so you should pursue another, or he may help you modify or refine the idea you are already thinking of defending. Use the project instructions that I published in the previous announcement as a guide for choosing your idea.

The meetings are not mandatory. However, we want to incentivize you to come. The project is worth 100 points. If you simply show up to a meeting, you will get 1 point over your final project grade. Then, depending on how prepared you are for the meeting (quality of the idea, how much you thought about the evidence sources, etc.) you can get up to 5 points over the project grade.

Sign up for meetings using
this link. Right now you can sign up for only one meeting. If we see two appointments from you we will cancel both without warning. However, starting Monday 04/24 you can sign up for up to two further meetings if you would like to get more help. Only your earliest meeting counts for extra points. Once we run out of slots this is it, so sign up soon if you want to make sure you take advantage of this resource.

If you want to reschedule your appointment, cancel the one you already have, and then make a new one. You can cancel your appointment up to 24 hours in advance. You can schedule an appointment up to 6 hours in advance. If you miss your appointment without having cancelled it, you can schedule a new appointment, but you will not receive the bonus points. Contact the Project TA if you have questions about the appointments.

The Final Project

The final project is a critique of this semester’s paper. The critique will be based in 1 point. It means that, although you may know several things that are wrong with the paper, your project will discuss only one. Of course, choose the best one you can.

The project begins with an introduction, where you explain the paper in broad lines: the question, the methodology, the results, and the conclusion. Then you introduce the point which will be the basis of your critique. You have to explain what your point is, then you have to provide evidence for this point, and finally you have to describe the consequences for the results of overlooking your critique point. For example, if you are defending that there is an omitted variable, you must explain what is the consequence of this omission: is the bias positive or negative? What is the consequence of this for society? Finally, you must have a conclusion. Don’t forget the bibliography, if applicable. It must follow a standard academic style. Any style is fine, as long as it is the same for all entries. Turabian (also known as Chicago style) is a good choice, very well accepted in Social Sciences.

The critique point must be specific. Is it omitted variable bias? Then you must defend that 1 specific variable was omitted. Which is it? Is it measurement error? Then which variable has measurement error? Is it sample selection? Then are you concerned with selection in which specific way? You must provide evidence, and you can go as far as you want there. You can use pure logic, you can use newspaper sources. However, the royal evidence comes from actual research papers. If you want to really impress, you can bring outside datasets. There is no limit to the creativity you can put into the evidence for your point. Moreover, if you can solve the problem, then you should. It is not necessary to do this, and historically only 2 students per year manage to provide full solutions to the problems they suggest, but it certainly increases the level of impressiveness of your project to a whole new level.

The project has strict formatting rules. The paper cannot have more than 10 pages counting everything (except the cover page). It must be written in single-space, Times New Roman font size 12. The document must leave 1 inch of space in all margins, no more, no less. Pages must be numbered. Include a cover page with your name, student ID, and class time. Don’t try to fumble with the editing rules, because we have way too many examples to compare. You have a bit of freedom within reason in how you format and space the section titles, as well as figures and tables, if you have some. Here are some guidelines (not obligatory) to help you write the paper: a typical critique has a 2 page long introduction, then the critique itself is introduced in general lines in about half a page. The body of the critique is very free, and the conclusion is usually at most one page long.

The project is graded based on many things. First, the introduction where you summarize the paper. There we are looking for an excellent understanding of what truly matters in this year’s paper. The words about which you should think are conciseness, precision, and readability. To help you write this section, read question 2 in all midterms again. Many items there were designed to make you extract the essence of the paper arguments in a few lines.

The body of the paper is, of course, the most important part. We are looking for a good critique point, which is defended using excellent evidence. The critique must clearly delineate what are the consequences of the problem you are raising. We reward creativity very highly. You can defend the same critique point as many of your colleagues, but then you are in direct comparison with them. If you choose an unexplored critique point, you will be evaluated on your own, which is a good thing. Moreover, when we see a novel critique point, we imagine that you thought about, but rejected, several more common ideas. Hence, we will reward you directly. We also reward the quality of the evidence. Not all evidence has the same strength and reliability. It goes like this: straight from data>>research papers>>online verifiable journalistic sources>>logical argument. This is not written in stone, but it’s a decent guideline. We reward effort and creativity involved in choosing, searching, and using the evidence. We also reward the strength of your whole argument. Is it easy to understand? Are you convincing?

You can make up for things. For example, you may not be defending the most creative critique point, but you can make up for it with a brilliant evidence source, or even (wow!) a direct solution. Additionally, this is an essay, so your language counts a lot. We establish just a few points for style and grammar, but don’t underestimate the power of a well written piece. An argument that develops fluidly, a paper that is not boring, a paragraph that is so well structured that the mind just cruises through it, all of those end up reflecting in your final grade. We punish pretty severely when your arguments are not clear, when we have to re-read things many times to get the point.

This project is not about doing everything right. Your paper may defend a correct critique point, use good evidence, and be sufficiently clear, and it will still not garner the maximum grade. You can always choose to break free from mediocrity. You can choose to be ambitious, to risk, and we will reward that.

Final note: you can get help with grammar and style. Check out this link to the
College Writing Program. They can read your essay over, they can help edit it. You should take advantage of this resource, it will serve you well for when you are writing other essays in the future. Do you see how journalists write? This style is very persuasive. I’ve seen undergrad students that could write this smoothly, and we couldn’t help but give them a better grade. Never underestimate the importance of presentation, be it in person or in paper.

The project is due on 05/05. It must be handed in paper (print and staple it). We will announce the location.

Midtem 2 answers published

I just published the exam answers. You can find them in the downloads page.

Midterm 2 preparation

Midterm 2 preparation is published in the download page.

This document has all the questions that will be in the actual midterm, with 2 differences: (1) the Material Question will have an actual situation, with real variables like class attendance and smoking. The preparation has generic variables like y and x
1. (2) In the midterm you will only receive a subset of these questions, so that you have time to answer them.

If you want to know more about the intentions behind the midterm and how to prepare, read
this.

The midterm will take place in the regular classroom in the regular class time. You should plan around 1 to 1:05 hour to write your answers.

I will give you one booklet with the questions, and two other booklets, one for the Material Question, and one for the Paper Question. These booklets have space for answering each of the items. Since the answer space of each question is set, you don’t need to write the answers in a row. You can write the bulk of the answers to all questions, and if you have extra time you may go back and complete them with extra flourishes.

Replication

You will replicate the project paper (the same one of question 2 in the Midterm). This means that you will get the data and clean it according to the descriptions in the paper. You can find the data and the codebook in the Download page. Then you will generate the same variables that the authors say they do, and run the same regressions. Finally, you will make sure that your code presents all the values in the table in a format that is very easy to see. You need to reproduce Tables 2, 3 and 4.

The code must be clean and organized. You have a good measure of freedom in deciding how you will organize your code. The point is to use comments to create sections for each different part of the replication. You should also use comments to explain what the commands are doing. The way you should approach this is as someone who is writing a code that will be used by others. Could they run it if they had the same data set? Could they understand it with minimum effort?

As with the homeworks, this assignment is a .do file. One .do file. You are graded on the correctness of what you did, on how close you get to the results, on how clean and elegant is your code, and on how easy it is to understand. Think that you are working with a coauthor, or with colleagues in a company. You don’t want to explain so much that it is tiresome to read, but you must make sure that the reader doesn’t spend time figuring out what you intended with this or that command.

The replication is usually a challenging assignment. The hard truth is that you can very seldom replicate exactly the same results of a paper. Sometimes papers have mistakes, but even when they don’t, the authors may have done something with the data that they didn’t describe in the paper, perhaps by distraction, perhaps intentionally. So, you won’t get the same results that they did. How close can you get? As you try to figure this out you will gain a very deep understanding of the paper.

Usually this process is very time consuming. Don’t play with this, you never replicated a paper before, you don’t know what it is like. You will run into coding problems, you may need to learn a Stata trick, you may have to start again. Even when you get it to run, you may not be getting results that are close enough, what are you doing differently? You will need time to go to office hours and experiment until you figure it out.

Youngmin is the specialist in the replication. The undergrad TAs have done replications of their own when they took this course, so they can help as well. However, on this particular assignment, try to get Youngmin’s help if you can.

The replication is due on Friday 03/31 at 5:00 pm. You must upload the replication file in the upload page. For details on how to upload it, read this. The password is still the same as for the homeworks. The replication is graded out of 10 points, and it is worth 10% of the grade.
 

PENALTIES IF THE FILE DOESN’T RUN
If your .do file doesn’t run, the TA will request that you fix it, and give you a deadline (usually until the next day). Each time he has to request a correction for the file to run, you lose 2 points. If you fail to make the deadline of a correction request, your replication won’t be accepted anymore. You choose which email we will use to contact you when you upload the file. Make sure that it is one you check often.

LATENESS PENALTIES
Every hour past the due time, your replication loses 10 points. Here is a breakdown:

Received before 5:00 pm until 5:59: no penalty
Received between 6:00 and 6:59: -2
Received between 7:00 and 7:59: -4


and so on until 10 pm, at which time we will not accept your replication any longer. Read the policy on late assignments here.

NOTICE: the replication is due before or at 5:00 pm. We only start discounting points at 6:00 pm to allow for internet delays, browser reloading or any other unpleasant things that may happen. We will not accept any excuse related to technology. If you can’t rely on your connection, or your browser, then take measures to upload your homework earlier, or even better, the night before.

Think that there are way too many rules to follow in this course? Read this.

Midterm 1 answers published

I just published the exam answers. You can find them in the downloads page.

Midterm 1 preparation

Midterm 1 preparation is published in the download page.

This document has all the questions that will be in the actual midterm, with 2 differences: (1) the Material Question will have an actual situation, with real variables like class attendance and smoking. The preparation has generic variables like y and x
1. (2) In the midterm you will only receive a subset of these questions, so that you have time to answer them.

The paper question refers to the project paper, which can be found in the
Downloads page. The paper will not be given to you during the exam, nor are you allowed to bring it with you. However, if the question refers to a table in the paper, I will include a copy of the table in the exam.

If you want to know more about the intentions behind the midterm and how to prepare, read
this.

The midterm will take place in the regular classroom in the regular class time. You should plan around 1 to 1:05 hour to write your answers.

I will give you one booklet with the questions, and two other booklets, one for the Material Question, and one for the Paper Question. These booklets have space for answering each of the items. Since the answer space of each question is set, you don’t need to write the answers in a row. You can write the bulk of the answers to all questions, and if you have extra time you may go back and complete them with extra flourishes.

Homework 2 is posted

You can find homework 2 in the download page.

Homework 2 is due on Friday 02/24 at 5:00 pm. You must upload the homework file in the
upload page. For details on how to upload your homework, read this. The password is the same that you used for homework 1. Consult your notes from 02/08, ask your classmates or email Youngmin if you forgot.

Your homework is a .do file (
ONE .do file!). For details about what is, and how to produce a .do file for your homework, read this (but more importantly, watch the Stata videos or come to the recitations). Find the data sets in the download page, unless specified in the homework.

PENALTIES IF THE FILE DOESN’T RUN

If your .do file doesn’t run, the TA will request that you fix it, and give you a deadline (usually until the next day). Each time he has to request a correction for the file to run, you lose 2 points. If you fail to make the deadline of a correction request, your homework won’t be accepted anymore. You choose which email we will use to contact you when you upload the file. Make sure that it is one that you check often.

LATENESS PENALTIES

Every hour past the due time, your homework loses 2 points. Here is a breakdown:

Received before 5:00 until 5:59: no penalty
Received between 6:00 and 6:59: -2
Received between 7:00 and 7:59: -4


and so on until 10 pm, at which time we will not accept your homework any longer. Read the policy on late homeworks
here.

NOTICE: the homework is due before or at 5:00 pm. We only start discounting points at 6:00 pm to allow for internet delays, browser reloading or any other unpleasant things that may happen. We will not accept any excuse related to technology. If you can’t rely on your connection, or your browser, then take measures to upload your homework earlier, or even better, the night before.

Think that there are way too many rules to follow in this course? Read
this.

Introducing Spring 2017's Paper

The paper we will be using this semester is

Occupational differences in the wage penalty for obese women

by Ronald DeBeaumont. It was published in 2009 by the Journal of Socio-Economics.

We will be using this paper in the midterm questions, in the replication, and in the project.

No class tomorrow

Remember that there is no class this Monday. Classes resume on Wednesday.

Email form is now working

If you would like to email me, make sure to use the form.

Homework 1 is posted

You can find homework 1 in the download page, where you can also find the data set needed to answer one of the questions, as well as the Stata videos. The homework covers up to and including video 7.

Homework 1 is due on Friday 02/10 at 5:00 pm. You must upload the homework file in the
upload page. For details on how to upload your homework, read this. You will need a password, which I will give out during class on 02/08 (if you miss class that day, find out the password from your classmates or email Youngmin on or after 02/08.)

Your homework is a .do file (
ONE .do file!). For details about what is, and how to produce a .do file for your homework, read this (but more importantly, watch the Stata videos or come to the recitations). Find the data sets in the download page, unless specified in the homework.

PENALTIES IF THE FILE DOESN’T RUN

If your .do file doesn’t run, the TA will request that you fix it, and give you a deadline (usually until the next day). Each time he has to request a correction for the file to run, you lose 1 point (in the following homework you lose 2 points). If you fail to make the deadline of a correction request, your homework won’t be accepted anymore. You choose which email we will use to contact you when you upload the file. Make sure that it is one that you check often.

LATENESS PENALTIES

Every hour past the due time, your homework loses 2 points. Here is a breakdown:

Received before 5:00 until 5:59: no penalty
Received between 6:00 and 6:59: -2
Received between 7:00 and 7:59: -4


and so on until 10 pm, at which time we will not accept your homework any longer. Read the policy on late homeworks
here.

NOTICE: the homework is due before or at 5:00 pm. We only start discounting points at 6:00 pm to allow for internet delays, browser reloading or any other unpleasant things that may happen. We will not accept any excuse related to technology. If you can’t rely on your connection, or your browser, then take measures to upload your homework earlier, or even better, the night before.

Think that there are way too many rules to follow in this course? Read
this.

Office hours and other information posted

We have all the office hours and locations posted in the Calendar. Note that we sometimes offer extra resources close to exams and other assignments. Check back before you go to any of these resources to see if there is any change.

Also, due to lab room availability, we had to move one of the Friday recitations from 10:25. Check the calendar for all the information.

You can now find the information about your TAs in the
Contact the TAs page.

Stata recitations

I added the Stata Recitation times and locations to the calendar.

Welcome to ECO 231W Spring 2017!

This page contains all the announcements for the course. It is your obligation to keep up with it. Here I post all the rules concerning assignments, and I also let you know if there will be any change. Did you read the Check-in page? That should be your first stop (find the tab at the top of the main page).