Economics 320


                                                                Spring 2002


Mike Robinson 

Office:  128 Skinner 538-2215

Office Hours:  MW 9-11 and by appointment.

   (I am usually around so feel free to stop by.)



Text:  Pindyck and Rubinfeld, Econometrics Models and Economic Forecasts,  Irvin McGraw Hill.


Objectives:  This course is an extension of previous work in statistics with emphasis on estimation and statistical inference.  Students will be exposed to econometric theory and applications of econometric techniques.  The classical regression model will be examined along with its problems.  SPSS will be the primary programming language used.  The course goal is for each student to competently employ regression techniques as research tools and to justify and defend the techniques used.


Lab:   Each week a computer lab will be held to aid the students in the use of the computer.  Problem sets to be done in lab will be handed out each Wednesday and due the following Wednesday.  Absolutely no late problem sets will be accepted.  They must be in by class on Wednesday.



Requirements:               Lab Reports (Weekly)                                         10%                            

                                    Mid-term (March 12)                                           30%

                                    Second Mid-Semester Exam                              30%

                                    Final Paper                                                        30%


                                    The above percentages are suggested and will be adjusted to your benefit if necessary.


                                    Attendance (though not counted per se as part of the grade) will be very important! 


Research Paper:            You should select a topic related to some economic issue or problem you have been exposed to in another course and one that interests you.  One idea would be to select a published piece of empirical research and redo the analysis with new data or a slightly different model.  Often authors may be willing to provide you with the data from their study if you write and explain your interest.  An advantage of this approach is the ease with which you can compare your results with those of the original study.  We also have a great deal of data available in the department and the Web is an excellent data source.  Some example papers can be found at the following URL


                                    Consult me if you need help with a topic.


            A one-page report on the topic with bibliography should be handed in before Spring Break (Please turn in 2 copies - one for me and one to be returned).  First drafts are due by April 26 and final papers are due by the end of the semester.  Students will be required to present their results in conference format during the final few days of class.  Some extra class sessions may be necessary to provide adequate time for the presentations. Group projects are appropriate and encouraged.  You should early on form a group of 2 or 3 for your project.




Course outline

and Readings                Listed below are subjects and corresponding text readings for the semester. 


1.  Least Squares and Introduction                                              Jan. 28-Feb. 6

               Chapters 1-3


2.  The Multiple Regression Model                                               Feb. 11-20

               Chapter 4-5


3. Heteroskedasticity and Serial Correlation                                 Feb. 25 - March 6

               Chapter 6


Midsemester Exam                                                                    March 8-10


4.  Model Specification                                                               March 11-13

               Chapter 7


5.  Qualitative Dependent Variables                                             March 25-27

               Chapter 11


6.   Panel Data                                                                          April 1 - 3

               Chapter 9


7.  Simultaneous Systems                                                          April 8-10

               Chapter 12


Second Exam                                                                            April 12-14


8. Forecasting and Simulation                                                     April 15

               Chapters 8, 13, 14


9. Maximum likelihood estimation                                                April 17

               Chapter 10


8.  Advanced Topics - Time Series                                               April 22-24

               Chapters 15-19


9.  Student Presentations                                                           April 26 - May 6


Final Paper due by the end of finals


Friday 4th Hours


Fridays 11-11:50 (and 10-10:50) have been set aside as a 4th hour for extra discussions, computer instruction, and help with problem sets and papers.  The following is the initial tentative schedule of 4th hours.  We will be meeting in Carr 101 for the computer lab assistance.













Paper Topics and Data Sources




Choosing a topic.


Develop a hypothesis.  From other classes.  Talking to faculty.  From the Newspaper.  Check out Econlit for what others have done.




Data sources:

            The economics department and myself maintain a number of data sources.  While you may not want to choose a paper topic simply by the availability of the data, knowing the available data may help you know which projects are feasible and which are not feasible.



National Longitudinal Survey of Youth.  12,000 in the sample who were 14-21 in 1979 followed through the 1990s.  Lots of great data for most any labor market study.  Also lots of sociological kinds of questions regarding drug and alcohol use, religion, time use.


            Topics:  Effect of working on the time allocation of women towards childcare.

            Effect of union status on earnings.


PADI:  Data on wages, employment, exports and imports for Latin America by sector.


Baccalaureate and Beyond.  Data on 1993 college graduates in 1997.


World Tables.  All the world tables data.  Annual data from many countries around the world.


            Impact of various factors on economic growth.



The college has access to the ICPSR, which is a very large number of datasets.  See the library’s web page at


In addition a large amount of data is available from the Web.  For information on this data....see internet resources at 


Most Macro data, Current Population Survey (includes many interesting surveys), 1990 Census (lots of data good for studying a specific occupation).