ECON 490 Course Descriptions

2021/2022 Winter Session

*Note: Subject to Change*

If you require assistance with ECON 490 course registration, please email Undergraduate Student Support (vse.undergrad@ubc.ca).

Updated: November 22, 2021

Please see the following link for the ECON 490 COURSE FORMAT

Term 1

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.

The emphasis of this section will be on the field of empirical industrial organization. Most of the applied papers discussed will be either from the structure-conduct-performance (SCP) or from NEIO (New Empirical Industrial Organization) tradition. Some applied papers will be discussed from other fields as well.

Students will be encouraged to explore the datasets available through the UBC library and make use of them by choosing a topic that can be explored with such data. This means the choice of topic does not have to remain limited to industrial organization. Students will enjoy freedom in this respect.

In this course, students will familiarize themselves with the study of economic inequality from the perspective of applied economics, development and economic history. Among other things, they will get to know about relevant dimensions of inequality and explore how inequality changes along different stages of development of a country. We will look at the impact of inequality on both developing and developed countries, as well as the intrinsic and functional aspects of this phenomenon. An important part of the course will be devoted to uncover the historical origins of inequality. Next to developing their understanding of econometric tools, students are expected to learn how to measure inequality in the data and compare the degree of economic inequality across countries and time. Most importantly, they will look at the drivers and multifaceted consequences of inequality. The ultimate goal of this project module is to give students a solid foundation for selecting their own research topic in this area.

This is a topics-based (inequality) research course in economics. This research course should culminate your economics training at UBC. This does not mean that this will be the last economics course you take, but one where all of what you have learned so far comes into play. It should challenge you, as all research courses do, but hopefully also reward you, and entice you to take more advanced economics research courses in the future.

This course will focus on a simple problem: how do we take an issue and use our economic tools to analyze it? This may seem elementary, but it can be surprisingly challenging! We will look at this problem in the context of applied microeconomic research, such as (i) policy evaluation, (ii) industrial organization, (iii) labour markets, (iv) finance, etc. This course requires the student to develop their own research project, based on an idea they care about – it is important that you have some idea of what you want to study, and they kind of data you are planning on using, before starting the course. Hit the books over the break!

This course is a mixture of lectures, 1-on-1 meetings, and independent study. The best ideas come about because you are passionate about them! We will start the course by reviewing the most important applied tools for conducting applied economic research, then extend those to provide a larger tool-kit for analyzing our research question. We will also focus on reading selected research papers in applied economics – in order to both understand how these papers work, from an economic perspective, and how they communicate their results. You will also get a hands-on demonstration (and practice) of the techniques taught in this course using “labs” – we will focus on the R programming language, but if you are more familiar with STATA or Python that is also OK.

Evaluation will be primarily based on (i) in-class participation, (ii) oral presentations, and (iii) your research paper. As explained, emphasis in-class will be on microeconomic applications, but students with broader interests are also encouraged to attend if they have a well-developed research question.

For more information, you can find a draft syllabus on the instructor’s website:
https://jonathanlgraves.arts.ubc.ca/econ-490-information/

The goal of this course is to provide students the tools necessary to write an independent empirical research paper. I will provide a discussion of recently published papers that illustrate the empirical methods used in current research. The course will also provide you with an introduction/refresher of STATA coding along with some assignments that will help you familiarize yourself with common empirical techniques. The course will also provide one-on-one meetings to discuss your work in progress. Possible topics for your research projects include education, health, gender, labor markets, immigration, racial bias, urban economics, and voting, though you are free to choose any applied microeconomics topic that interests you.

Term 2

This course will focus on a simple problem: how do we take an issue and use our economic tools to analyze it? This may seem elementary, but it can be surprisingly challenging! We will look at this problem in the context of a community engaged learning project, motivated by real community partners here at UBC. This course is structured around a community-engaged learning option, which requires the student to understand the context of the problem being posed, structure it as an applied research question, and then answer it.

This course is a mixture of lectures, 1-on-1 meetings, and independent study. We will start the course by reviewing the most important applied tools for conducting applied economic research, then extend those to provide a larger tool-kit for analyzing our research question. We will also focus on reading selected research papers in applied economics – in order to both understand how these papers work, from an economic perspective, and how they communicate their results. You will also get a hands-on demonstration (and practice) of the techniques taught in this course using “labs” – we will focus on the R programming language, but if you are more familiar with STATA or Python that is also OK.

Evaluation will be primarily based on (i) in-class participation, (ii) oral presentations, and (iii) your research paper. As explained, emphasis in-class will be on community engaged learning applications.

For more information, you can find a draft syllabus on the instructor’s website:
https://jonathanlgraves.arts.ubc.ca/econ-490-information/

The main goal of this course is to help students write a research paper in public economics and policy. To do so, the course is divided into two parts: (1) it will expose students to a set of topics in public economics, and (2) it will provide them with econometric tools to analyze data and make statistical inference. Students will learn necessary tools to evaluate a research paper, and will have individual meetings to discuss how to apply these tools to pursue their own research ideas. Near the end, students will have a chance to present their research paper. Possible topics include local public finance, innovation policies, taxes and transfer programs.

In this course, students will familiarize themselves with the study of economic inequality from the perspective of applied economics, development and economic history. Among other things, they will get to know about relevant dimensions of inequality and explore how inequality changes along different stages of development of a country. We will look at the impact of inequality on both developing and developed countries, as well as the intrinsic and functional aspects of this phenomenon. An important part of the course will be devoted to uncover the historical origins of inequality. Next to developing their understanding of econometric tools, students are expected to learn how to measure inequality in the data and compare the degree of economic inequality across countries and time. Most importantly, they will look at the drivers and multifaceted consequences of inequality. The ultimate goal of this project module is to give students a solid foundation for selecting their own research topic in this area.

This is a topics-based (inequality) research course in economics. This research course should culminate your economics training at UBC. This does not mean that this will be the last economics course you take, but one where all of what you have learned so far comes into play. It should challenge you, as all research courses do, but hopefully also reward you, and entice you to take more advanced economics research courses in the future.

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.

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. The goal of research in this section is to answer the question: Why have some countries grown so quickly over the long run while others have stagnated? In answering this question, we will focus on interpreting the existing empirical theory and evidence, as well as testing some long-run growth models of our own using panel data analysis. This is a group learning section of ECON 490 meaning that all students will conduct their research in teams of four that meet during lecture times throughout the term. Students who are not comfortable with independent research and/or the use of statistical software, or who those would like to build up their teamwork skills will appreciate the research approach in this ECON 490 section.