Fall 2013 - 63860 - PA397 - Introduction to Empirical Methods for Policy Analysis

Scope and Objectives: This course is an introduction to a wide range of basic quantitative tools pertinent to policy analysis and management.
The primary emphasis of this section is to foster analytic thinking and communication skills through rigorous conceptual reasoning in the context of public policy. The mathematical and statistical techniques acquired through this thinking/communication learning process constitute a secondary objective—they are the anchoring stories and beneficial side-products.
Upon successful completion of this course, students will be prepared to take any section of Advanced Empirical Methods for Policy Analysis, which will focus on techniques within a specialized quantitative topic.
Structure of Content:This course is organized into six modules:

Developing perspectives on the role of quantitative analysis in democratic politics

Thinking about policy choices through the logic of calculus

Visualizing policy issues and political constraints through linear programming

Making decisions in environments of uncertainty and risk

Guessing truth with bivariate statistical design

Modeling reality with multivariate regression models

Learning Experiences: All assignments in this course are based on conceptual reasoning and its application to practical problems. None is driven by data crunching or the use of software. These assignments include:

Problem sets involving group problem-solving about once every three weeks

Individual-based quizzes given out approximately once every three Fridays

Final exam

Expectation: Fulfillment of the quantitative prerequisites at the LBJ School—one semester each of differential calculus and basic statistics—is the minimum requirement. Camp LBJ level proficiency is strongly recommended. A Thursday evening tutorial will be offered. Abstention from long-hand note-taking in class is requested.