SOC 384M • Evaluation of Social Politics in Latin America
9:00 AM-12:00 PM
This course offers an introduction to the practical application of statistical techniques to evaluating social policy, program, and treatment effects. The substantive focus will be on programs in health, education, welfare, and workforce training. Students will be invited to work through a series of concrete program evaluations conducted for a number of international and national organizations ranging from the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank, to the governments of Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, Indonesia, and more. While the course does touch on cost-benefit analysis (prospective evaluation before a program is in place), the primary focus is on the design and execution of program evaluations (the assessment of on-going programs or of programs after the fact). This will call for a solid treatment of:
The formal logic of experimental and quasi-experimental research design
Multivariate statistical techniques
The management of large databases
The use of statistical analysis packages (primarily Stata)
Statistical techniques for dealing with selection bias and other commonly encountered threats to validity
And much more
Students will write occasional commentaries on real-world studies and analyze large real-world datasets. Students willl be evaluated in terms of the quality of their participation in class discussion, their class presentations, and on their performance on fortnightly take-home exercises.
Readings draw from the literature on program evaluation, quasi-experimental design, and the emerging field of microeconometrics. While oftentimes challenging, these developments in statistical methodology have important implications on the way we conduct public policy analysis.