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The objective of this course it to provide students with a set of theoretical, econometric and practical skills to estimate the causal impact of one variable on another, with a particular focus on development programs. Examples from the readings explore the causal effects of policies, laws, programs and natural events on a variety of development outcomes in the areas of agriculture, health, education, markets, microfinance and governance. The course will also attempt to go beyond estimating the simple causal effect (often termed the “black box” of impact evaluation, or Evaluation 1.0) to identify the channels through the which the causal effect was achieved.
The course will introduce students to a variety of econometric techniques in impact evaluation and a set of analytical skills that will assist them in becoming both consumers and producers of applied empirical research in development. Students will not only learn how to critically analyze evaluation research and gauge how convincing it is in establishing a causal relationship, but also use these skills to develop an evaluation plan and conduct an impact evaluation of an existing development project.The curriculum will be very applied, with weekly case studies of field research drawn from the international development literature.