The goal of this course is to prepare you to analyze public policy issues using statistics. Key topics in the course are in the areas of probability theory, sampling, estimation, hypothesis testing, and regression analysis. While many students taking this class will have already taken courses in statistical inference and regression analysis, this course will place a much stronger emphasis than typical courses on conceptually understanding the underlying methods. Since the course is targeted to first-year students in the MPA-ID program, we will not shy away from using mathematical tools, but the emphasis of the course will be on the conceptual understanding and application of the tools rather than on the math or the mechanics behind the tools. So for example, when studying hypothesis testing, we will place a heavier emphasis on what the test is doing, when to use it and how to interpret its results, than on mathematical proofs underpinning the test or on mechanical repetitions of the calculations involved in conducting the test.
The ultimate goal is that by the end of this course you will be able to:
- Conceptually understand the statistical methods studied in the course and be able to apply them to a wide range of public policy issues.
- Interpret the results of statistical analyses and think critically about the potential issues that arise when trying to draw conclusions from such results.
- Conduct statistical analyses using Excel and a statistical package called Stata.