AØKK08428U Seminar: Empirical Evaluation of Public Policies

Volume 2022/2023

MSc programme in Economics

The seminar is primarily for students at the MSc of Economics


A large strand of the empirical microeconomic literature is devoted to the evaluation of public policies in various domains (education, health, labor, justice, household finance, etc.). Economic theory can help predict how policies should affect economic outcomes, but many questions remain open. Measuring empirically what is the impact of policy reforms is therefore key to improve our microeconomic models as well as the design of future policies.

There is a wide range of econometric methods available for such empirical policy evaluations: economists exploit exogenous variation in the implementation of policy changes (differences-in-differences, event studies, regression discontinuity designs, etc.), or implement policy changes themselves in a controlled environment (randomized control trials).

More and more, these policy evaluations are implemented in tight connection to microeconomic models:  researchers do not merely try to estimate the effect of a policy on a couple of outcomes, but rather try to understand the underlying mechanisms, and estimate core parameters. This is key to extrapolate the results from the study of one specific policy reform to other settings: for instance, should a policy have the same impact when implemented on a small or a large scale?

In this seminar, students will conduct their own empirical project, related to the economic literature on the evaluation of public policies. Ideally, the students will conduct their own empirical analysis, using publically available datasets, or administrative datasets that they might have access to. One possible idea is to replicate and extend a published research paper. Examples of topics include:

  • What is the impact of various features of the education system on students’ performance?
  • How public opinion perceives public policies, such as the carbon tax?
  • What is the impact of Basic Income on poverty, and on employment?
  • What are the effects of mortgage credit availability on borrowing?
  • What is the effect of the minimum wage on wages and employment?
  • What are the effects of earmarked parental leaves on men and women’s career, or on children?
  • How well do various health insurance systems reduce inequality in health?
  • What are the effects of corporate tax on firms’ taxable profit?
  • Do sanctions on migrants deter migrations?
  • Does private prison contracting increase recidivism?
  • Ect.
Learning Outcome

Additional for the learning outcome specified in the Master curriculum the student is after completing the seminar expected to be able to:


  • Know and understand the main methods for econometric data analyses
  • Know the state of the economic literature on some key policy questions


  • Identify open questions about key public policies
  • Critically examine the economic literature on a specific topic
  • Implement, and interpret econometric data analyses
  • Write and present orally an empirical analysis in a clear language
  • Identify limitations in econometric analyses, and suggest solutions


  • Apply econometric methods to answer concrete, policy relevant questions
  • Develop own independent empirical project
  • Have constructive, critical discussions about ongoing research projects
  • Independently identify and acquire new research-based knowledge 

Basic references for empirical methods include:

  • Angrist, J. and J. Pischke (2009): Mostly harmless econometrics. Princeton University.
  • Cameron, C. and P. Trivedi (2005): Microeconometrics. Methods and applications. Cambridge University Press.
  • Cameron, C. and P. Trivedi (2010): Microeconometrics using Stata. Stata Press.
  • Wooldridge, J. (2002): Econometric analysis of cross section and panel data. MIT Press.
  • To seek inspiration for a concrete topic, students can look at recent publications in the American Economic Journal: Economic Policy.

Students can also search for publically available datasets in the online archives of articles published in economic journals such as: The American Economic Review, the American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, the Journal of Applied Econometrics and the Journal of Political Economy. Examples of available datasets will be discussed during the introductory meeting.

BSc in Economics or similar
Students should have sound knowledge of microeconomic theory (Microeconomics I and II), and empirical methods (Econometrics I and II).

Students will also benefit from previous or concurrent participation in courses on Labor Economics, Advanced Microeconometrics and Applied Econometric Policy Evaluation.
At the seminar the student is trained independently to
- identify and clarify a problem,
- seek and select relevant literatur,
- write a academic paper,
- present and discuss own paper with the other students at the seminar.

The aim of the presentations is, that the student uses the presentation as an opportunity to practice oral skills and to receive feedback. The presentations is not a part of the exam and will not be assessed.

Mandatory activities in the seminar:
- Kick-off meeting
- Finding literatur and defining the project
- Writing process of the seminar paper
- Presentation of own project and paper
- Giving constructive feedback to another student´s paper
- Actively participating in discussions at the presentations and other meetings.

There is no weekly teaching/lecturing and the student cannot expect guidance from the teacher. If the teacher gives a few introduction lectures or gives the opportunity for guidance, this as well as other expectations are clarified at the kickoff meeting.

It is strongly recommended that you think about and search for a topic before the semester begins, as there is only a few weeks from the kick-off meeting to the submission of the project description/ agreement paper.

The seminar project paper must be uploaded in Absalon before the presentations, as the opponents and the other seminar participants have to read and comment on the paper. It is important that you upload a paper that is so finalized as possible due to the fact that the value of feedback and comments at the presentation is strongly associated with the skill level of the seminar paper.

After the presentations, you can with a few corrections improve the seminar paper by including the feedback and comments emerged during the presentations. It is NOT intended that you rewrite or begin the writing of the full project AFTER the presentation has taken place.
Schedule Fall 2022:

- Kick-off meeting: September 7, 10h15-12h

- Extra meetings / introductory teaching / guidance: September 21, 10h15-12h

- Deadline for submission of commitment paper / project description: October 1, 10h

- Deadline for uploading a seminar assignment paper in Absalon: November 1, 10h

- Presentations: Early November (precise dates to be determined)

- Exam date: 20 December at 10.00 (am) - latest uploading of Seminar paper to the Digital Exam portal for assessment.

It is recommended that students start thinking about their topic before the semester begins, as there is only a few weeks from the kick-off meeting to the submission of the project description/ agreement paper.

All information regarding the seminar is communicated through Absalon including venue. So it is very important that you by yourself logon to Absalon and read the information already when you are registered at the seminar.
  • Category
  • Hours
  • Project work
  • 186
  • Seminar
  • 20
  • Total
  • 206
Peer feedback (Students give each other feedback)
7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Written examination
Type of assessment details
A seminar paper in English that meets the formal requirements for written papers stated in the curriculum of the Master programme and at KUNet for seminars.
Exam registration requirements

Attendance in all  activities at the seminar as stated in the formal requrements in the master curriculum  and at the KUnet for  Seminars (UK)  and Seminars (DK) is required to participate in the exam.


All aids allowed

for the seminar paper.

The teacher defines the aids that must be used for the presentations.


Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
External censorship
Exam period

Exam information:

Deadline for submitting the final seminar paper: December 20, 2022 before 10 AM



The seminar paper must be uploaded to the Digital Exam portal. More information will be available from the middle of the semester.


For enrolled students more information about examination, rules, aids etc. is available at the intranet for Master (UK) and Master (DK).



Reexam information:

The reexam is a written seminar paper as stated in the master curriculum.


Deadline and more information is available at Seminars (UK) and Seminars(DK).

More information about reexam etc is available at Master (UK) and Master (DK).


Criteria for exam assesment

Students are assessed on the extent to which they master the learning outcome for the seminar and can make use of the knowledge, skills and competencies listed in the learning outcomes in the Curriculum of the Master programme.


To receive the top grade, the student must with no or only a few minor weaknesses be able to demonstrate an excellent performance displaying a high level of command of all aspects of the relevant material.