Archive for the ‘Adventures of an Economics Major’ Category

Survey approved!

Thursday, December 2nd, 2010

My survey has finally been approved! Hurray!! Which means my entire weekend will be spent at the Econ houser runnning regressions (don’t worry, I’ll be posting soon about what that means). So if all of you could do me a HUGE favor and PRETTY PLEASE take a few minutes to take my survey I would greatly appreciate it. Thanks :D

Take our Online Survey

http://www.kwiksurveys.com/online-survey.php?surveyID=HMNHLG_439c9216

First Draft…Kinda

Monday, November 29th, 2010

Still waiting on my survey to be approved :( I’m hoping that hurries up! I have created an online survey and have a link that I’ll post and send out to everyone once I finally get it, especially since I have to present next Monday during finals. I completed my first draft before break (however when I say completed…I mean minus the empirical data, results and conclusions). I really enjoyed writing this paper and I surprisingly didn’t have any issues with adding information. This is probably because I’ve been working on the literature all semester so I know it pretty well. It’s definitely more fun to write papers that don’t have page length requirements too and I found it a breeze to get to 5 pages without everything else that I still need to add. Here are the first 5 pages and if anyone has any comments or suggestions on how to fix it, I am definitely interested in hearing!

For our final draft we didn’t have specific requirements for the order in which it had to be written so I followed the basic outline of the literature that I found on my topic. There are obviously holes and sections in which I don’t have complete sentences or information written. I have already submitted it to Dr. Greenlaw and once I receive his comments I will fix it again and resubmit to be corrected hopefully before it’s due on December 10th.

Friendship Effects and Alcohol Use among College Students at the University of Mary Washington

Gretchen Houser

ABSTRACT This paper draws on results from a campus-wide study to examine the extent to which friendships play a role and affect the demand for alcohol consumption among the students of the University of Mary Washington. The results demonstrate…

Introduction


Many social science researchers, along with economists have devoted efforts to better understand the effects of alcohol consumption and factors that affect the demand for alcohol consumption. Research focused on the effects of alcohol consumption mainly focuses their efforts on low frequency outcomes such as teen pregnancy and mortality (Carrel, Hoekstra and West, 2010). Other studies concentrate on a vast number of factors that affect alcohol consumption, however many contain vast, broad data collections. Literature on alcohol consumption has identified many key influences and considers these in the examination of health risk behavior patterns. This has presented problems when concluding results since they typically follow the assumption that drinking patterns tend to be influenced exogenously by peer groups and parents (Delaney, Harmon and Wall, 2008).
The influences of peer effects have debated upon various issues including personal beliefs, education policy, academic performance, urban policy, technology adaptation and substance abuse (Kremer and Levy, 2008). Peer effects have been proven to exert a decisive influence over risk-taking behavior, with a greater impact than parental effects. Peers can shape participation in risk-taking behaviors, such as alcohol or drug abuse use through a number of means such as, influencing attitudes, norms and values; modeling behaviors and offering support for behavior. It has also been noted that current peers may affect not only already existing behavior, but future decisions (Akerlof, 1997). Moreover, similarities in behavior amongst present group members may be connected to influence of peers. Difficulties may arise in ruling out the potential that peer group members may be similar along unobserved magnitudes. Alexander (2001) accentuates whereby close friendships may have an extensive impact on behavior than a larger peer network realizing the level of contact such relationships provide.
A significant argument is that the peer effects have a drastic affect on other’s preferences to risk-taking behaviors including alcohol and cigarette intake. The information and research shows that while there may be many factors that contribute to alcohol consumption including, but not limited to, parental preferences, socio-economic status, and behavioral parameters such as time preferences, risk perception and personality. “Yet peer effects are notoriously difficult to estimate econometrically because in most contexts, people choose with whom the associate,” is a perfect prerequisite quote to the issue this paper challenges (Kremer and Levy 2008). This paper estimates friendships in the context of the University of Mary Washington students’ answers to specific survey questions to help quantify the understanding of friendship. The purpose of the survey is to isolate the effect of peers through identifying friendships in a manner both related and unrelated to alcohol consumption patterns and cont. My results suggest that there is a significant causal connection with the college students’ demand for alcohol consumption and their friendships…

Literature Survey


Researchers have studied alcohol consumption in various ways to discover either how it is affected by certain factors or how it affects different aspects of life. The results from already existing literature on alcohol use among college students and academic attainment are mixed. Many of such studies do not account for the potential endogeneity between drinking and schooling measures. Often these studies have looked at the probability of high school graduation without the recognition that many young adults are exposed to alcohol more frequently once in college. Powell, Williams and Wechsler (2004) converges these previous ideas to focus on college-level educational outcomes. Here the impact of alcohol consumption is examined; with alcohol consumption being defined by the average number of drinks consumed per drinking occasion among college students who drink. A generalized least squares estimation procedure is applied to account for potential correlation in the transients that determine drinking behavior (Powell, Williams and Wechsler, 2004). Results and conclusions from this paper do not attempt to determine the connection between peer groups and the influence they have on alcohol consumption amongst college students.
Alcohol consumption is ever so prevalent in the life of college students and plays a role in the relative demand for alcohol products. There have been various studies focusing on the antecedents of alcohol consumption and the possibility that peer influences may generate a new/different view on an individual’s preferences. The findings have implications that lead to understanding substance use and abuse. Approximately 40 percent of university students who participated in these studies reported binge drinking at least once within the past two weeks (Wechsler, Lee, Kuo and Lee, 2000). This statistic leads the belief that student alcohol consumption has been or is influenced by peers. Levy and Kremer provide documentation through their research that demonstrates more consistency with theories stating that peer effects operate by prompting an individual’s preferences. Their study examines the peer effects in the context of alcohol consumption of college students from various universities. This furthers the previous research on peer effects by looking at a specific category in which peers influence each other, in this case, students. Kremer and Levy work to generate a model to make a conclusive argument based upon literature where there was a previous lack of or incomplete information.
The role of characteristic differences in personality warrants consideration of risk behavior patterns. Where most of the other studies haven’t provided much information focusing on personality traits that may/show an effect on alcohol consumption in college students, Delaney, Harmon and Wall (2008) tackle this dilemma. When comparing the other variables used in this particular study with others, there proves to be consistency in relevant control variables. According to a study of university students, as noted by Delany, Harmon and Wall, “conscientiousness” and “agreeableness” measures were significant predictors of attitudes regarding alcohol consumption. Here is offered the notion that personality traits play an important role in affecting alcohol consumption to offer a more detailed look at the direct effects of alcohol consumption. Another important contribution made by this research is the relevant variables to be needed for inclusion to generate a solid theoretical model for hypothesis testing within this topic.
One of the discrepancies is in the inadequate consistency in research methods and data used in each study. Each study looks at relatively similar variables, while each paper looks at different aspects of alcohol consumption resulting in a variety of conclusions. This paper will attempt to prove that there is certainly a significant relationship on how friendships are generated and/or maintained and the connection with the demand for alcohol consumption following the idea that there is a degree to which other effects can also be determined by other factors, including socio-economic family status, parental drinking habits and student’s college budget constraint.

Background


Drawing from a primary research survey conducted by myself, I will provide evidence on the extent to which friend relationships impact the demand for alcohol consumption among college students. Assessing the contrivances through which friendships impact the demand for alcohol use may diffuse further knowledge on better understanding exactly how peer effects play a similar role as well as how personal preferences and views are determined. This could even lead to a better understanding of consumer behavior as a whole and generate a deeper knowledge for business marketing. Current evidence exists on some extent to the link between peer effects and drinking behaviors.
I analyze the impact of relationships, specifically friendships, through survey questions that narrow and define these relationships unambiguous of the individual student. This research will attempt to apply ideas about the demand for alcohol consumption and how friendships affect such consumption, and the role alcohol consumption plays on friendship outcomes. Other variables are required that may affect college drinking levels to account for variations in alcohol consumption demand. In order to efficiently control for these variables, cross sectional data on alcohol consumption and friendships: influence of drinking from friends/ friend drinking habits and time spent together outside of drinking (i.e. how many of these “friends” is time spent together outside of drinking?) has been gathered. In addition, data on a variety of control variables such as age, household income, parental drinking habits, and age started drinking is included. Such data is collected through a random campus-wide survey. Some questions asked are observed based on a 1 to 5 scale in order to make them quantifiable in order to logit run regressions. These regressions will examine the affiliation of friendship influences and the demand for alcohol consumption, along with the control variable data, since the beginning of the students’ education the University.

Data Description


The data used for this analysis are drawn from a primary research survey conducted at the University of Mary Washington. This student survey was administered to a random sample of full-time students to focus on drinking patterns in a campus representative sample of college students.

Model of the Demand for Alcohol Use and Friendship


This study examines the impact of alcohol consumption levels by college students in terms of friend relationships. A key goal of the empirical model is to establish a causal link between the drinking measure, defined by the average number of drinks consumed per drinking occasion among students who drink, and the demand for alcohol use. This is accomplished through analyzing the impact and correlation of friend influences on the demand for alcohol consumption levels by college students following for the distinct control variables. The theoretical model that is applied to this problem is a function and determinants of demand. A key goal of my empirical model is to establish a causal link between the demand for alcohol consumption and friendship influences.
The determinants of demand that relate specifically to the hypothesis being test include: incomes/socioeconomic status, price, population (of drinking college students) and tastes. Incomes/socioeconomic status relates to college student alcohol demand by the amount of disposable income that can be spent to consume alcohol. Price plays an important role in the demand for alcohol consumption; where in this case price is denoted as a social cost. Population (of drinking college students) is a key factor in the role peer, specifically friends’ influence demand. Tastes (or preferences) help prove the hypothesis and show the link between friend/peer effects on demand. Variables for income, price, population and tastes have been determined based upon the stated hypothesis. Income will be looked at through parent’s income and socioeconomic status, price will be determined by the average price students pay for one drink, the population will be determined by the number of drinkers in the surveyed students and their friends, and tastes will come directly from the influence and outcomes of friends.
D₁ = βрP₁ + β’iI₁ + β’xX₁ + β’tT₁ + u₁
Where P₁ is the average price of alcohol, I₁ is the income/socioeconomic status of parents, X₁ is the college student (friends and peers) drinker population, T₁ is the tastes characteristics of peers and friends.
I begin by testing the exogeneity of my friendship measure using the Smith-Blundell exogeneity test following Powell, Williams and Wechsler’s model. I have established that the friendship measure is endogenous, where the implementation of The Amemiya Generalized Least Squares estimator for a dichotomous dependent variable.

Finally a Proposal

Thursday, November 18th, 2010

The Research Proposal is meant to convince the audience and the professor that you have the ability to adequately generate new knowledge on the topic selected. It can also be considered as a way or a plan for your research project. This is probably one of the most important assignments and if written well enough can be used to successfully and to efficiently carry out the study. An economic research proposal contains 5 pages, all of which have a certain and specific purpose. Following is the a basic rubric that our class followed to accomplish this task and I will also include my first draft (with comments from my classmates on how to improve).

Page 1. Introduction. In one page, summarize the nature of the problem or issue you plan to investigate. Why is the topic interesting? Why is it relevant or important? Why should you spend your time on it? (Why should we spend our time reading it?)
Page 2. Research Hypothesis. In one sentence, state the hypothesis you plan to examine, or the main point you plan to make in the paper. At this stage the thesis may be a tentative one but it should be as specific as possible, and it should be testable. For example, “This paper will attempt to prove that the demand for hula hoops is not sensitive to their price.”
Page 3. Literature Survey. What are the majors studies that have been published on this topic? What contributions do they make to understanding the topic? What are their shortcomings?
Page 4. Research Design. What is your plan for completing this research? Your plan should address the following questions: 1. What is the conceptual framework of the model? For example, “This research will apply the theory of demand to study consumer spending on hula hoops.” Note that the research hypothesis should follow from this conceptual analysis.

2. In an ideal world, what data would you need to test your hypothesis? For example, sales of hula hoops, their price, personal disposable income, some measure of their “coolness.”

3. What data have you found to test your analysis and what is the source of that data? For example, “I plan to test the hypothesis using data on hula hoop sales and prices, as well as disposable income obtained from the National Income and Product Accounts, Survey of Personal Consumption Expenditures. I was unable to find a measure of coolness.”

4. How will you test your analysis empirically? For example, “This research will conduct a regression study over the time period of 1972-1999.” Explain how this design should produce reliable and valid results.

Page 5. References. List all the references you have read so far on your topic. Use the appropriate bibliographic style. This list should demonstrate that you have identified the major studies done relevant to your topic.

The proposal should be focused to answer and explain what the issue/problem is that will be investigated, the hypothesis that will be attempted to be proved and how, and the adequate sources to accomplish the task. Finally, and probably the main and most significant purpose is to convince the reader that it can answer all of these areas. Otherwise, it will not be approved. My first draft wasn’t approved as well as a lot of the class. This is because, while we all have research that is interesting to us, we haven’t all written proposals before and may be lacking in one or more areas. My original proposal is listed below and throughout you will notice cetain areas where comments where made (they are in brakets [v1] with the comments listed at the bottom).

I. Introduction[V1]  

                Researchers have studied alcohol consumption in various ways to discover either how it is affected by certain factors or how it affects different aspects of life. Alcohol consumption is ever so prevalent in the life of college students and plays a role in the relative demand for alcohol products. There have been many studies focusing on the effects of alcohol on student’s performance and peer influences that may generate a new/different view on preferences.

                A significant argument is that the peer effects have a drastic affect on other’s preferences to risk-taking behaviors including alcohol and cigarette intake. The information and research shows that while there may be many factors that contribute to alcohol consumption including, but not limited to, parental preferences, socio-economic status, behavioral parameters such as time preferences, risk perception and personality. Many research works to examine the effects of peer, sibling and parental drinking habits and how this may relate to a person’s consumption habits. Peer effects seem to have a significant effect on how college students view drinking and such related activities with negative effects on things such as grade point average and overall alcohol consumption choices.

                This study will go further to look not only at how student peers affect alcohol choices, but more specifically how friendships affect and are affected by the influence of the alcohol dynamic. It will attempt to determine whether or not people who drink associate with other drinkers as friends and the quality of the friendships; for example, the amount of time spent with these friends outside of activities [V2] or events related to the involvement of alcohol. These factors will help determine the impact of friend preferences and influence upon the consumption of alcohol of the study participant.

II. Research Hypothesis[V3] [V4] :

                This paper will attempt to prove that there is certainly a significant relationship on how friendships are generated and the connection with the demand for alcohol consumption following the idea that there is a degree to which other effects can also be determined by other factors, including peer influence, socio-economic family status and parental habits.

III. Literature Survey

                There have been numerous studies, both completed and working papers, looking into the central debates on substance abuse, specifically alcohol, based upon peer effects. The idea is that peers could potentially affect others’ choice sets and academic performance. Thus far, the most imperative in my research are Kremer and Levy (Summer 2008), and Delaney, Harmon, and Wall (January 2008).

                Delaney, Harmon and Wall provide an inclusive and up-to-date study to use as a basis for my research. Most of the other studies haven’t provided much information focusing on personality traits that may/show an effect on alcohol consumption in college students. Comparing the other variables used in this particular study with others, there proves to be consistency in relevant control variables. Delaney, Harmon and Wall offer the notion that personality traits play an important role in affecting alcohol consumption to offer a more detailed look at the direct effects of alcohol consumption.

                Kremer and Levy work through their study to examine the peer effects in the context of alcohol consumption of college students from various universities. This furthers the previous research on peer effects by looking at a specific category in which peers influence other, in this case, students. Kremer and Levy work to generate their own model to make a conclusive argument based where there was a previous lack of information.  

                One of the discrepancies is in the inadequate consistency in research methods and data used in each study. Each study looks at relatively similar variables, while each paper looks at a different aspect of alcohol consumption resulting in a variety of conclusions.

IV. Research Design[V5]  

                This research will attempt to apply ideas about the demand for alcohol consumption and how friendships affect such consumption, and the role alcohol consumption plays on friendship outcomes. In order to efficiently conduct this research, I will need time series data on alcohol consumption and cross sectional data on friendships: influence of drinking from friends/ friend drinking habits and time spent together outside of drinking. In addition, I will need data on a variety of control variables such as age, household income, parental drinking habits, and age started drinking.

                I am gathering data through a random campus-wide survey to conduct this experiment. Some questions I am asking will be observed based on a 1 to 5 scale in order to make them quantifiable in order to run regressions. These regressions will examine the affiliation of friendship influences and the demand for alcohol consumption, along with the control variables data, since the beginning of college the University of Mary Washington.

V. References

Delaney, Liam and Harmon, Colm and Wall, Patrick. 2008. Behavioral Economics and Drinking Behavior:

                Preliminary Results from an Irish College Study. Economic Inquiry 46, no. 1 (January): 29-36.

Kremer, Michael and Levy Dan. Peer Effects and Alcohol Use among College Students. Journal of

                Economic Perspectives 22, no. 3 (Summer): 189-206.

Powell, Lisa and Williams, Jenny and Wechsler, Henry. Study Habits and the Level of Alcohol Use Among

                College Students. Education Economics 12, no. 2 (August): 135-149.

Dhaval, Dave and Saffer, Henry. Alcohol Demand and Risk Preference. Journal of Economic Psychology

                29 (March): 810-831.

Williams, Jenny. Habit Formation and College Students’ Demand for Alcohol. Health Economics 14, 2

                (April): 119- 134.


 [V1]Needs some clarification before approval.  How to measure and define friendship?   Hypothesis not clear, needs to be narrowed.

 [V2]So, measuring level of friendship on the basis of time spend outside of alcohol consumption?   Friendship is vague and difficult to define, might be better to simply discuss peer pressure.  This might be easier to measure and define.

 [V3]Friendship influences- independent variable. The demand for alcohol consumption- dependent variable.  Trying to find relationship between alcohol and friendship: are you are more likely to be friends with people you drink with or more likely to drink with people you are friends with?  If this is the case, clarify your hypothesis, it is difficult to follow and understand.

 [V4]Hypothesis suggests that you haven’t necessarily narrowed down what exactly you are looking for.  Measuring friendship levels, peer pressure, alcohol in friendship.  Very abstract thus far.  Maybe find a way to define friendship and measure it in this way throughout the study.

 [V5]To make more clear, include your survey or clearly define your variables.

*Here you can see that there is some question about my hypothsis and that I need to work to make it more concise. Also, since I didn’t include my research survey, it is hard for my readers to understand how I plan on measuring friendship. This feedback will help me with my short presentation and fixing my proposal.

Theoretical Model

Tuesday, November 9th, 2010

How is Economic research different from research papers/studies in other departments? Well, we have to present our proposed Theoretical Model for our research. A theoretical model is based upon an Economic theory and can be applied to a specific issue noticed in the real world. Choosing a theoretical model can often be hard especially if you’ve only had principles of economics. It’s probably obvious, but the best thing you can possibly do is meet with the professor to help finalize what theory applies to your research specifically and can be used to generate an understanding to the final results and conclusions of the study. Determining what variables from your research play what roles in the economic theory is also a key component to developing the theoretical model. From this you need to be able to determine what the testable hypothesis is to gather conclusions that are derived from this theory. It took me a while to get up the courage to try to create a model that I wanted to use. I knew that I wanted to use the theory of demand, but I really needed to figure out how the variables were going to be represented in the model. I’ve only had principles of economics until this semester which was okay because this theory is taught through these classes (one of the basics of econ). This semester I am taking intermediate microeconomics and lucky for my the theory of demand is a microeconomic idea and has been covered more in depth. I’m going to try to figure out how to use what I’ve just recently learned to explain my theoretical model in the final paper.

Theoretical Model

                This study examines the impact and correlation of friend influences on the demand for alcohol consumption levels by college students following for distinct control variables. The theoretical model that will be applied to this problem is a function and determinants of demand.  A key goal of my empirical model is to establish a causal link between the demand for alcohol consumption and friendship influences.

                The determinants of demand that relate specifically to the hypothesis being test include: incomes/socioeconomic status, price, population (of drinking college students) and tastes. Incomes/socioeconomic status relates to college student alcohol demand by the amount of disposable income that can be spent to consume alcohol. Price plays an important role in the demand for alcohol consumption; where in this case price is denoted as a social cost. Population (of drinking college students) is a key factor in the role peer, specifically friends’ influence demand. Tastes (or preferences) help prove the hypothesis and show the link between friend/peer effects on demand. Variables for income, price, population and tastes have been determined based upon the stated hypothesis. Income will be looked at through parent’s income and socioeconomic status, price will be determined by the average price students pay for one drink, the population will be determined by the number of drinkers in the surveyed students and their friends, and tastes will come directly from the influence and outcomes of friends.

                                D₁ = βрP₁ + β’iI₁ + β’xX₁ + β’tT₁ + u₁

                                Where P₁ is the average price of alcohol, I₁ is the income/socioeconomic status of parents, X₁ is the college student (friends and peers) drinker population, T₁ is the tastes characteristics of peers and friends.

Research Question…Check

Sunday, November 7th, 2010

I’ve finally finished the majority of my assignments for my research class. Now I’m to the point where I have to conduct the research, generate results and write my paper. The hardest part for me has been narrowing down a specific research question that is concise, but still includes and recognizes control variables. The purpose of the “Statement of the Research Question” is to explicitly state the question the research is trying to answer or investigate. Along with this statement we were asked to explain why our research question is important and within this explanation to answer specific questions. They are as following:

  • What is the problem your research question addresses?
  • How is your research question analytical?  What does it seek to analyze or explain?
  • What makes your research question interesting and significant to the appropriate research community?
  • In what way is your research question amenable to economic analysis?  For example, what economic theory or theories seem applicable to you?
  • What data sources might be used to examine your research question?

As an example of what this should look like, I am including my submitted “Statement of the Research” assignment.

Statement of the Research

                This paper will attempt to prove that there is certainly a significant relationship on how friendships are generated and the connection with the demand for alcohol consumption following the idea that there is a degree to which other effects can also be determined by other factors, including peer influence, socio-economic family status and parental habits.

                This problem is addressing the connection between the demand for alcohol consumption and how college students relate to friends/with friendships. Such research is analytical because it seeks to analyze how friendships are developed or maintained and if there is a link to alcohol consumption. This is interesting and significant because there has been prior research on this topic, specifically looking into peer effects of the demand for alcohol consumption. I am seeking to analyze a new angle that not only looks at peer effects, but those people that are thought to be closest to the student (i.e. friends at college). It is particularly interesting and appropriate for the research community in which I am presenting because I will be conducting primary research across campus to find a correlation between my variables and to prove my hypothesis has truth.

                The problem and question presented is amenable to microeconomic analysis with a focus on the Theory of Demand. To analyze the Theory of Demand, I will be focusing on specific questions that I will ask each student I survey to help determine a connection between the demand for alcohol consumption and the way students relate to their friends on a regular basis. Of course there are other factors that must be included and I will obtain with a set of questions that will look into other independent variables such as, parent income and drinking habits and students’ college budget constraint.

The additional questions are also helpful because we are required to present (on Wednesday, Nov. 9th) our Research Proposal. The introduction of our proposal needs to grab the attention of the audience and the best way to begin is by helping them understand the importance and purpose of the research that will be presented. Each assignment builds off the first one and it’s important to get them completed before conducting the research/collecting the data.

Reading…Reading…Rereading

Tuesday, October 26th, 2010

The title says it all!! Economic research is a lot of work. I was working on my project and found many articles on my topic of “crime and the labor market.” I wanted to specifically look at the reliance we have on criminal labor however, I was unable to find any information relating to this notion. As I mentioned in my previous blurb, I discovered this topic through my anthropology class earlier in the semester. Each article that I read was at the very least 20 pages and had a vast amount of information to sort through. Dr. Greenlaw told us that after reading the literature on our topic, we should try and find something that hasn’t been done yet. Fortunately, or maybe more unfortunately for me, there are plenty of holes in the data and current research. This is a problem though because I don’t really have enough information to continue forward. Another significant issue has been the ability to understand the math and the models for this topic in the literature are extensive. Even with the descriptions it was really hard to understand what was each term meant and exactly how it related to the final results. I talked to Dr. Greenlaw to potentially find a direction to tackle this problem. He helped me realize that criminal labor really isn’t all that present in everyday product consumption…meaning time to find a different topic! Back to square one and much more reading ahead of me.

Currently…and my FINAL topic idea is looking at how people relate and generate friendships and how this affects alcohol consumption. I have found many helpful articles that demonstrate research that I can use as a basis to my hypothesis and as a background to understanding alcohol consumption amongst college students. I plan on conducting a campus-wide survey to collect data and then I will work to find out if there is a correlation between alcohol consumption and friendships. It is important that I look for and collect information on any variables that might affect alcohol consumption because obviously alcohol consumption isn’t completely related to relationships.

Some of the important components and steps that a student in ECON 300 must complete along the way to help keep up with the research process include the following (all leading up to the final product…the research paper):
*I will go into greater detail of each step as I continue to complete them. Since I changed my topic again, I am currently working on everything up until the Research Proposal all at once.

Research Abstract and Critical Reviews: Both of these are easiest when completed together and can be very useful for every article that is read to get a better understanding of what is being presented. They’re an essential part to critical reading and have proven to be very useful especially when trying to move forward with your own research project. The Critical Review includes what has been written in the Research Abstract, but goes further to help you determine the quality of the information and methodology provided in the paper. It’s also important when working to determine what theoretical model has already been used in your topic area and how it can relate specifically to your own research. I also want to note that when conducting research, you must be sure to cite everything (which I’m sure everyone knows) and in my class we use Chicago Style.

Here are my examples of each…

Machin, Stephen and Meghir, Costas. 2004. Crime and Economic Incentives. The Journal of

                Human Resources 39, no. 4 (Fall): 958-979.

Abstract

                Economic incentives play a fundamental role in determining crime rates. Results are compiled from time series data on the police force areas in England and Wales from 1975 to 1996. Here Machin and Meghir find that relative falls in the wages of low-income laborers lead to increases in criminal activity. This reinforces the idea of a strong connection between the low-income or low-wage labor market and crime. Machin and Meghir argue that the conclusions determined in this study can be used to evaluate more recent evidence within the United States and find similar results of a strong association of crime and low-wage labor.

Autor, David. 2008. The Economics of Labor Market Intermediation: An Analytic Framework. Discussion                                

                Paper No. 3705. The Institute for the Study of Labor, Bonn, Germany.

Critical Review

                This discussion paper offers a foundation for analyzing the economic role played by Labor Market Intermediaries and to provide a quantitative sense of their significance to the labor market operation and welfare. The author uses the neoclassical benchmark to argue that Labor Market Intermediaries follow a common function in labor market operations. Labor Market Intermediaries reduce search frictions by aggregating and reselling information at a cost below which companies and workers could acquire on their own. Autor argues that the participation of workers and firms along with the nature of Labor Market Intermediaries’ activities is dictated by the labor market imperfection and provides a vast amount of information about its economic function.

                The theoretical reasoning behind this study makes sense along with the model (Pissarides model used in my previous article). The empirical methodology is not suitable as there are a few statistics provided, but no data to support this idea. A lack of data doesn’t denote the fact that the hypothesis is consistent with the author’s conclusions. Overall, the paper isn’t as convincing as it could be. Empirical methodology and data are tremendously important when providing a persuasive and convincing argument about any topic, especially in Economics.

                        *As you can see here, there is a second paragraph. This portion is known as the Critical Review and is uesd to reflect the information given in the article and how influential the article is upon generating new knowledge.

Statement of the Research Question
Theoretical Model
Research Proposal
Data Appendix

 

ECON 300

Sunday, September 12th, 2010

ECON 300…a.k.a. Introduction to Economic Analysis is a required course for Economics students. In this course we learn the tools to conduct economic analysis and present it in a research essay format. It covers economic research methods such as: developing a reputable research question, conducting a literature search in economics, how to find and collect economic data and how to test economic models. All of this is achieved within a semester and demands a significant amount of time and patience.

I’ve begun the research process after 3 short weeks of classes. It’s my duty to work hard throughout the semester, not only for an exceptional grade, but potentially a spot in either the Economic Research Conference or the co-produced (Elon University and University of Mary Washington) “Issues in Political Economy” Magazine. My original idea was to look at the Demand for higher education and the effect Affirmative Action plays on this. As I began searching for articles in the library, my success was limited. This could provide a lot of room for unexplored economic ideas for me to test, however this could also pose a vast range of challenges. Without sufficient information on my topic, I may not be able to come up with a plausible question as well as an educated conclusion.

In my Anthropology class, we’ve been briefly discussing the economics of criminality. Our discussions have increased my information in the topic and I’ve decided to redirect my research project for ECON 300 to this topic. I haven’t quite formulated a question yet, or really discovered what I want to explore. However, this topic offers more information to sift through and I’ve thought about questioning the death penalty or even the current reliance of our economy on criminal labor. The hardest part right now is deciding my focus and working through the literature to find gaps in the current research. As I continue this process, I will document the struggles and road-blocks as well as the successes I stumble upon.

Doing Economics by. Steven A. Greenlaw

Chapter 4 Review:

This chapter discusses the re-viewing process and creating arguments (process and structure). In reading and understanding the chapter there were a few ideas that I didn’t fully grasp the concept.

It is mentioned in the re-viewing section that when re-viewing the information should include re-thinking the organization and re-constructing the argument. When researching and developing the argument should you generate arguments for each resource to best formulate your final argument?

Also “Evaluating an Argument Using Broad and Deep Reasoning” notes that “a controversial thesis with large implications will require broader and deeper explanations than a more commonplace assertion.” This may be a very silly question, but does a controversial thesis necessarily mean a controversial topic? Meaning: Can you have a controversial topic that has a more commonplace assertion?

Chapter 5 Review:

This chapter discusses writing as a product of economic analysis (specifically noted in the chapter title). Even in Economics, it is important to write clearly and in an organized fashion.

As in all papers, Economic analysis essays should be formed and written in a logical, hierarchical structure. Even in English papers I have a tough time trying to flow. I was wondering if in Economic analysis papers if there is a certain way to flow between main points instead of sounding choppy.