ECON 490 Course Descriptions

2016/2017 Winter Session

*Note: Subject to change*

If you require assistance with ECON 490 course registration please email Tina Marandola (tina.marandola@ubc.ca).

Updated: May 30, 2016

Term 1

Two hundred and fifty years ago the wealthiest country in the world was at most four times richer than the poorest country in the world. Today the richest country is almost 100 times richer than the poorest. In this section of Econ 490 we will try to answer this question: Why have some countries grown so quickly over the long run while others have stagnated? In answering this question we will focus on understanding and interpreting the existing empirical theory and evidence, as well as testing some long-run growth models of our own.

The goal of this course is to help you learn how to think, write, and speak like an economist. Throughout the term you will work as a group, with your instructor one-on-one, and alone on your individual research projects. This process is designed to replicate the process followed by your professors in producing their own, publication quality, research. Students are expected to have chosen their research topic by the end of the first week of term and paper writing will begin in the second week; there will be no delay in starting this project. Students will be given a guide (posted on Connect) along with checklists for each stage of the project. At each stage you will be given detailed feedback through the web service turnitin.com that will allow you to both revise that stage and to move forward with your research. The class will meet once a week in the lab for the purpose of developing the empirical skills necessary to conduct this research and a mini-conference will be held one day of the second last weekend of the term.

The assessment in this class will consist of a major research project (60%), an oral presentation (15%), three in-lab econometrics assignments (15%), and in class participation that includes class attendance (10%).

This section introduces students to research in health economics. The course will be divided into two parts. The first part will discuss some interesting research done in health economics such as research on childhood obesity and review some statistical techniques students have learnt previously in Econ 325 and 326 which are important to the completion of a major research paper. In the second part, students will apply their knowledge acquired in this section to a research paper related to health economics. Students will present their findings to the class in a 15-20 minute presentation during the final few weeks of the course. The final paper will be due at the end of term.

This section introduces students to research in health economics. The course will be divided into two parts. The first part will discuss some interesting research done in health economics such as research on childhood obesity and review some statistical techniques students have learnt previously in Econ 325 and 326 which are important to the completion of a major research paper. In the second part, students will apply their knowledge acquired in this section to a research paper related to health economics. Students will present their findings to the class in a 15-20 minute presentation during the final few weeks of the course. The final paper will be due at the end of term.

The goal of this course is to use micro datasets to answer causal questions related to the economic problems of the poor. Possible topics include health, education, gender, and productivity. We will start with a discussion of recent published papers that illustrate the questions and empirical methods used in current research. After choosing your research question and identifying an appropriate dataset, the instructor will guide you through the process of writing a research paper. There will be an emphasis on discussion and collaboration, including in-class presentations of your work in progress.

Introduction: There is hardly any form of learning that is more satisfying than researching, debating a topic and then corroborating your hypothesis with empirical evidence. In this section you are required to work on a research paper under the supervision of the instructor. The broad themes for this section of Econ 490 are Gender, Population and Health.

The course would require you to form a researchable question from topics like gender differences in decision-making, division of labor within the family, and public policies that affect the status and health of women and children. We will draw from various development and health literature from Africa, Asia and Latin America. This course emphasizes conceptual, modeling, and empirical skills widely used in economic analysis and its application to the data from developing world.

The first few sessions would be in a lecture format learning the recent theory and empirical evidence related to various topics in the field. The next few sessions would be in an interactive class setting where students will use STATA (econometric software) to formalize their research question.

This section of ECON 490 focuses on empirical economics. The goal is to use concepts studied in theory courses and econometric tools for investigation of interesting empirical questions, and finally produce a research paper. The lectures during the first few weeks of the course will cover steps of doing research such as reviewing literature, formulating a main research question, and obtaining data. Then we will have class discussions on examples of empirical research in various areas of economics such as labour, finance and macroeconomics, as a stepping stone toward independent yet guided research for each student. The major part of the course requirements include in-class presentations and a research paper.

Introduction: There is hardly any form of learning that is more satisfying than researching, debating a topic and then corroborating your hypothesis with empirical evidence. In this section you are required to work on a research paper under the supervision of the instructor. The broad themes for this section of Econ 490 are Gender, Population and Health.

The course would require you to form a researchable question from topics like gender differences in decision-making, division of labor within the family, and public policies that affect the status and health of women and children. We will draw from various development and health literature from Africa, Asia and Latin America. This course emphasizes conceptual, modeling, and empirical skills widely used in economic analysis and its application to the data from developing world.

The first few sessions would be in a lecture format learning the recent theory and empirical evidence related to various topics in the field. The next few sessions would be in an interactive class setting where students will use STATA (econometric software) to formalize their research question.

Term 2

One of the most pressing social problems facing the world as a whole is the fact that some countries are enormously rich while a much greater number are crushingly poor. About 60% of the world's population earns less than 20% of an average US worker's income. In addition to the direct human cost of large scale poverty, large disparities in levels of per capita income and wealth between rich and poor countries are a source of destabilization in the world, and potentially of conflict. A key concern of social scientists in general, and of economists in particular, is to understand why some countries are rich and others poor, and to understand further whether the poorer countries might eventually catch up to the rich ones, or whether they will fall increasingly behind.

By definition, countries that are rich have enjoyed strong economic growth, while countries that are poor have failed to grow. This section of Econ 490 will focus on the economic determinants of growth, looking at simple economic models of the growth process, and using these models to guide econometric analysis of the sources of economic growth in a cross-country perspective. Some individual countries, e.g. China and the former Soviet Union will also be considered. The hope is that such analysis can lead to a better understanding of the processes of growth, and the factors that help or hinder it, in a global perspective.

There will be no exam.  The emphasis will be on written work and student presentations. Each student will write an original term paper on a research project of their choosing and will be involved in oral presentations in class.  Attendance at EVERY class is mandatory. Anyone who misses more than one or two classes will fail. The course is about learning with and from your colleagues in class---you must all show up and support each other; no absences, and no excuses accepted.

Final Research Essay        70%

Class participation  20%

Oral Presentations  10%

Any form of plagiarism on the research project will be punished to the maximum extent possible. The official Faculty of Arts position on what plagiarism is and how to avoid it is found in

Plagiarism Avoided: Taking Responsibility For Your Work. Knowledge of the content of these documents is assumed of anyone taking this course.

Health economics is a growing field. Health economists study the functioning of health care systems and health-affecting behaviors. In this section of 490 we will apply economic thinking to a range of important health related questions. We will review the theory and empirical methods relating the demand for health, productivity of health, physician services, supplier-induced demand, hospital services, health behaviors and implications for healthcare access, costs and quality. In light of the theory and methods discussed during the course, students will work on their individual research project, identifying an interesting/new research question, reviewing the related literature and proposing methods to address the question. All classes are highly interactive. Evaluation includes the submission and presentation of a research paper.

The general theme for this group of Econ 490 is Economics and Happiness. The Statistics Canada Time Use Survey collected information from a sample of Canadians on perceptions of happiness as well as many socio-economic characteristics. Class lectures will discuss methodology for working with this data set. Students will prepare a research paper under the supervision of the instructor.

This section of Econ 490 will focus on empirical issues in Financial Economics.

There will be lectures and computer labs during the first part of the course in order to: introduce the student to different topics in financial economics, review econometric tools, and discuss data sources. Students will then be expected to undertake a research project and at the end of the course present their findings in both a research paper and an in-class presentation.

Introduction: There is hardly any form of learning that is more satisfying than researching, debating a topic and then corroborating your hypothesis with empirical evidence. In this section you are required to work on a research paper under the supervision of the instructor. The broad themes for this section of Econ 490 are Gender, Population and Health.

The course would require you to form a researchable question from topics like gender differences in decision-making, division of labor within the family, and public policies that affect the status and health of women and children. We will draw from various development and health literature from Africa, Asia and Latin America. This course emphasizes conceptual, modeling, and empirical skills widely used in economic analysis and its application to the data from developing world.

The first few sessions would be in a lecture format learning the recent theory and empirical evidence related to various topics in the field. The next few sessions would be in an interactive class setting where students will use STATA (econometric software) to formalize their research question.

The general theme for this group of Econ 490 is Economics and Happiness. The Statistics Canada Time Use Survey collected information from a sample of Canadians on perceptions of happiness as well as many socio-economic characteristics. Class lectures will discuss methodology for working with this data set. Students will prepare a research paper under the supervision of the instructor.

This section will guide students through their own original analyses of  a law or government policy.  In the first half of the course, we will build upon the skills already developed in ECON 325 and ECON 326 with an emphasis on their practical application to policy analysis and causal inference. In the second half of the course, students will work independently to apply these skills in the production of a major research paper.