Empirical methods for studies of natural resource and economic development

ECS555 Empirical methods for studies of natural resource and economic development

  • Topics


    The course will cover standard econometric techniques such as difference-in-difference, regression discontinuity design, and instrumental variable methods. The applications of the techniques will be on questions related to the environment, natural resources and economic development, covering the use of microeconomic and geo-coded data, as well as energy price data and macro data.


    Examples of topics: Development effects of electrification, decentralization and pollution spillovers, the political economy of deforestation, economic effects of oil discoveries, economic and environmental effects of mining, the political resource curse

  • Learning outcome

    Learning outcome

    Upon completion of the course, the students will be able to



    1. Explain the most popular micro econometric techniques and identification methods used for the analysis of real world data
    2. Understand frontier applications of empirical methods within the fields of environment, natural resources and economic development
    3. Find sources of data relevant for analyses of the environment, natural resources and development


    1. Critically evaluate empirical strategies of research papers
    2. Design an empirical strategy for a given question within the fields of environment, natural resources and development

  • Teaching


    Classroom teaching: the coverage of each method will consist of a formal introduction and examples of their potential use, demonstrated by established research papers.

  • Restricted access

    Restricted access

    Torfinn Harding

  • Recommended prerequisites

    Recommended prerequisites

    Econometrics at the master level

  • Requirements for course approval

    Requirements for course approval


  • Assessment


    Course paper

  • Grading Scale

    Grading Scale


  • Computer tools

    Computer tools


  • Semester



  • Literature


    (Suggestive at this point)

    1. M. Lipscomb, A. M. Mobarak, T. Barham. "Development Effects of Electrification: Evidence from the Topographic Placement of Hydropower Plants in Brazil," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, 5(2): 200-231, April 2013 http://faculty.som.yale.edu/mushfiqmobarak/papers/development%20effects%20of%20electrification.pdfPaper
    2. M. Lipscomb and A. M. Mobarak, ¿Decentralization and Pollution Spillovers: Evidence from the Re-drawing of County Borders in Brazil,¿ Review of Economic Studies, 84 (1): 464-502, January 2017 http://faculty.som.yale.edu/MushfiqMobarak/papers/Brazil%20decentralization%20Jan%202017.pdfPaper
    3. Robin Burgess, Matthew Hansen, Benjamin A. Olken, Peter Potapov, Stefanie Sieber; The Political Economy of Deforestation in the Tropics*. Q J Econ 2012; 127 (4): 1707-1754. doi: 10.1093/qje/qjs034
    4. Yu-Hsiang Lei, Guy Michaels, Do giant oilfield discoveries fuel internal armed conflicts?, Journal of Development Economics, Volume 110, September 2014, Pages 139-157, ISSN 0304-3878, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jdeveco.2014.06.003http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jdeveco.2014.06.003.
    5. Rabah Arezki, Valerie A. Ramey, Liugang Sheng; News Shocks in Open Economies: Evidence from Giant Oil Discoveries. Q J Econ 2017; 132 (1): 103-155. https://doi.org/10.1093/qje/qjw030https://doi.org/10.1093/qje/qjw030 .
    6. Dell, M. (2010), The Persistent Effects of Peru's Mining Mita. Econometrica, 78: 1863¿1903. doi:10.3982/ECTA8121
    7. Brollo, Fernanda, Tommaso Nannicini, Roberto Perotti and Guido Tabellini. 2013. "The Political Resource Curse." American Economic Review, 103(5): 1759-96. DOI: 10.1257/aer.103.5.1759


ECTS Credits
Teaching language