Seminar Public Finance - Summer Term 2019

Empirical causal analysis - methods and applications to public policies


In this seminar we will deal with empirical methods for identifying causal effects and their application to concrete (public) policies or events. After having clarified why it is so important to estimate causal effects rather than correlations (or accidental associations), we will take a closer look at those econometric methods most commonly used by economists to identify causal effects, such as panel-data techniques, controlled experiments, instrumental variables, differences-in-differences, and regression discontinuities. A focus will be put on the necessary prerequisites for applying the respective method, possible problems and solution strategies as well as on the estimated effects (in relation to the specific research question).


You will have to read and understand chapters of econometric textbooks as well as original empirical research papers as a part of this course. A solid background in statistics and regression analysis is a necessary perquisite in order to successfully pass this course. We highly recommend taking "Empirical Methods" (MW24.1) before this seminar.

Important Remarks

The Chair of Public Finance follows a zero-tolerance policy with respect to plagiarism. In our seminar in the winter term 2018/19, more than 20% of the students failed because of plagiarism in their seminar papers. Please read again carefully the slidespdf, 346 kb · de from the course "Approaches to Economic Sciences" about plagiarism.

January 2019 Central registration
4 Feb 2019
(1pm, Room 4.157)
For those students allocated to this seminar: Meeting and presentation of topics
8 Feb 2019 Choice of preferred topics and a preferred start date (see next item). The preferences serve as the basis for the allocation of topics.
19 Feb 2019 to 19 March 2019 Start of your individual writing period.

Your can choose to receive your topic on any Tuesday between February 19 and March 19. After reveiving your topic, you have 5 weeks to complate a first version of your seminar paper. The paper will then be refereed by another student within 1 week. After receiving the referee report you have 2 more weeks to improve your paper on the basis of the referee's comments.
16 April 2019 to 14 May 2019
(depending on starting date)
Submission of the final version of your seminar paper (by email to your supervisor).
Soon after Time plan for the seminar (incl. allocation of discussants)
End of May / beginning June Seminar (blocked)


For guidelines and regulations, see hereExternal link


To be announced