How has technological change affected employment
then focus on wage, which represent the returns to different skills in the labor market . also, can explore how this has changed the demand for and the supply of different types of workers with different skill sets.
What problem or issue will
the research address?
How will you use data and economic theory to answer the research question?
What will the research
contribute to existing
knowledge and/or society?
Research Proposal Guidelines
The research proposal should be approximately 3-5 pages in length. It is meant to be informative and concise. Identify each section with the headings listed below. Properly cite all references.
• This should be a brief paragraph or two that introduces your research topic, and briefly discusses why the study is interesting and/or important
• This section should state the primary question of your research study, as well as any secondary information you hope to gain or questions you hope to answer
? Studies often have one primary question, and 2-3 supporting aims/questions
? Each specific aim will likely involve slightly different analysis of the same data
? e.g., Eissa and Liebman’s (QJE 1996) primary research question was how the EITC affected labor force participation of women with children. Their secondary aims were (a) the effect of the EITC on hours worked, and (b) how the effects differed by education level
Background and Significance:
• This section should include any necessary background information or context for your study
? e.g., Eissa and Liebman (QJE 1996) describe the structure of and changes to the EITC
• This section should also include a review of relevant literature, which is structured as follows:
? Provide a brief summary and critical analysis of what is known so far
? Identify gaps in existing knowledge, and explain the reason for these gaps
? Discuss how your study adds to the existing knowledge
Economic Theory and Hypothesis:
• Clearly state your hypothesis (what you expect to find) and describe the relevant economic model and theoretical predictions that led to this hypothesis
• Economic models come in many forms — they can be as simple as describing the marginal benefit vs. marginal cost trade-off for the relevant agents (individuals, firms, etc.) in your study, or they may involve more detailed models such as the labor-leisure choice model
? Accurate discussion of economic theory should include appropriate treatment of models from this class, and concepts covered in an economic principles course1
• Graphs may be computer-generated OR hand-drawn and included at the end
1 Do not shy away from topics that interest you… evaluation of the theoretical discussion will be based on the difficulty of the model
Data and Methods:
• This section should describe the data required to address the specific aims of your study. NOTE, this could correspond to a real data set that you have found, but it does not need to. It is perfectly acceptable to describe the data you would need to conduct your study, irrespective of whether the data actually exist.
• Focus on:
? The population of study and the unit of observation – Is your research question about individuals? Women? Men? Children? Families? Firms? States? Countries?
? For Eissa and Liebman (QJE 1996), the population of study is unmarried women with and without children, and the unit of observation is a woman (i.e. labor force participation was measured for each woman)
? Outcome variable(s) – these are what your research question is asking about (e.g. labor
force participation and hours worked in the Eissa & Liebman (QJE 1996) study)
? Control variables – these are the factors that might affect your outcome variables (e.g. education level (potential wages), marital status, presence of children, race, gender, non- labor income, etc., might all affect labor force participation)
? Based on economic theory and general intuition, you are thinking about a list of what factors or characteristics might cause the outcome variable to differ between units of observation. Briefly explain your reasoning.
• State your identification strategy — This may involve a natural experiment, or it may be as simple as having information on all necessary control variables. (Natural experiments are one way of controlling for factors that are unknown to the researcher but might affect the outcome. Natural experiments would be unnecessary if we had unlimited information. Since you do not need real data for this proposal, you are not constrained by whether the information exists, as long as data on those factors could, in theory, be collected.)
• This section should very briefly summarize your main research question, how you plan to answer it, and what you expect to find
• Most importantly, the section should explain the relevance of the research project
? Focus on the implications your findings are likely to have for public policy, private companies, non-profit organizations, individuals, countries, the world, etc. (your study will likely only have implications for one, two, or maybe three such groups)
? In addition, discuss the limitations of the study (e.g. can the findings be extrapolated to all situations, or only to specific populations and/or under specific conditions?)
Overall Quality of Your Research Proposal
? Is it a good research question?
o Is it broad enough to be interesting and important, but narrow enough to be answerable?
? Does the introduction catch the reader’s interest?
? Are the specific aims clear?
? Is the background and significance analytical and relevant?
o Does it draw on appropriate and credible sources?
o Are all sources appropriately cited?
? Is the economic theory accurate and well connected to the question and the hypothesis?
? Are the data and identification strategy able to answer the research question?
? Does the conclusion convince readers the study is meaningful, while also acknowledging the limitations?
? Is the proposal clear, concise, well-organized, grammatically correct, and well- written?