Empirical Project 

This project asks you to review, replicate, and extend an empirical paper from our reading list. Please choose a paper not covered in detail in class.


Your essay should have three components, outlined below.

A. Overview

  1. What question does the study ask and in what context: Why is this of economic interest? What are the most important findings in the paper?
  2. Describe an ideal research design for the question at hand. Which assumptions support a causal interpretation of the results presented in your chosen paper? Are these assumptions discussed appropriately? Are the econometric techniques used in the study likely to yield estimates with a causal interpretation? Do these techniques appear to have been correctly implemented? Are the results convincing?
  3. Finally, the bulk of this part should consider where this paper fits in the relevant literature. What were the findings at the time the paper was written? What is this paper’s contribution? What has been done on this topic since this paper was published? Are the paper’s findings still relevant?

B. Replication

  1. Identify the main findings and use the authors’ data to replicate the published findings if possible. If the data are unavailable, construct comparable estimates using a data set of your choosing. (Choose a data set you’d expect to generate similar results).
  2. Summarize and compare your replication results to the original results, with original and replication results reported side-by-side in a single table. Highlight any differences. Explain why you think your results differ from the original (if they do).

C. Extension

  1. Extend the work in some way. Do this either by (a) estimating alternative specifications that may illuminate issues and questions raised by the paper (e.g., specification checks or subsamples of special interest), or (b) collecting new data and producing results for this new sample. Any analysis of new data should include specification and robustness checks of the sort you would hope to see in a published empirical study of this nature.
  2. The product of this exercise is an essay, much like those you will spend your life writing. Start polishing your writing skills now rather than the summer before you go on the job market. For starters, pick a style guide and master the contents (The Elements of Style, for example). Once you’ve mastered basic composition, learn how to write about numbers by imitating the good work of others.