Seminar Public Finance (MW23.4) - Summer Term 2024

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 methods, 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 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 slides about plagiarism and conduct the test on "How to Cite/ How to Avoid Plagiarism" available in the Moodle-course "Approaches to Economic Science" ("WS2020-Approaches"). (If you do not have access to this Moodle-course, contact Jana Schuetz.)

January 2024 Central registration
08 Feb 2024, 10 am For those students allocated to this seminar: Meeting and presentation of topics 
23 Feb 2024 Choice of preferred topics and preferred start date (see next item). The topics’ preferences serve as the basis for the allocation of topics.
04 April 2024 Start of writing period.

After receiving your topic, you have 5 weeks to complete 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.
28 May 2024 Submission of the final version of your seminar paper (depending on start date). The deadline is midnight from Monday to Tuesday.
Soon after Time plan for the seminar (incl. allocation of discussants)
June 2024 Seminar (blocked)


For guidelines and regulations, see hereExternal link


To submit your topic preferences and review the slides after the information event on 08 February 2024, please go to link ("Master Seminar Public Finance").  You will also find further information and materials on the seminar there.