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Seminar: Current Research in Voting and Democratic Institutions - Examining the Replicability of Selected Papers in Political Economy

Course description

Transparency and reproducibility are topics of growing interest in economic research. The heavily discussed „replication crisis“ in economics, psychology and other disciplines emerged when a considerable fraction of empirical studies (experimental and observational) could not be reproduced. A famous (now infamous) example is Reinhart/ Rogoff (2010). Improving the standards of empirical economic research, many journals now require pre- analysis plans and open sharing of data and materials.

The aim of this seminar is to critically reflect the value and credibility of research in the field of political economy. Students learn how to embed papers in the overall scientific literature and replicate (parts of) them using the statistical software STATA. We will clarify which contribution the respective paper makes. Is the identification strategy credible? Which method was implemented? How suitable is the used dataset? What are the advantages and disadvantages of the respective approach in order to answer the research question at hand? The skills acquired will be useful in the context of writing the master thesis.

In the seminar, students write a short research paper, in which they replicate or extend an existing paper in the field of political economy. They will present the main features of the paper and their results. Articles including dataset and STATA do-files will be suggested, but students are free to propose their own paper that they wish to replicate, subject to approval. Since the focus of this seminar is empirical, previous knowledge of STATA is helpful, but not a requirement. We will introduce the software STATA in a tutorial session.

The extension can focus on a subsample, include additional explanatory variables, employ an alternative methodology or use additional data. The extension may provide additional intuition or investigate the robustness of the results in the original paper.


Who can participate?

The seminar is aimed at Master students. We expect participants to actively contribute to the seminar, in particular to the discussion of the presentations during the block seminar.



Attendance is limited to 10 students. The participants will be drawn by lots. If you are interested, please send an email to Gudrun Kaufmann (gudrun.kaufmann@vwl.uni- until April 24. Please remember to state your area of study, semester, registration number (Matrikelnummer) and submit a current transcript of records.


Requirements and credit points

Participants can obtain 6 credit points if they successfully complete the following assignments: Seminar paper, presentation, participation in the discussion, oral exam.


Areas of study

  • Master BWL-PM: Wahlpflichtbereich Public Sector Economics

  • Master VWL (PO 2011): Wahlpflichtmodul Volkswirtschaftspolitik

  • Master VWL (PO 2014): Spezialisierungsbereich Constitutional Economics and 

    Competition Policy

  • Master VWL (PO 2014): Spezialisierungsbereich Public Sector Economics and

    International Taxation

  • Master Economics



  1. Funk, P. (2016). How Accurate are Surveyed Preferences for Public Policies? Evidence from a Unique Institutional Setup. Review of Economics and Statistics98(3), 442-454.

  2. Hodler, R., Luechinger, S., & Stutzer, A. (2015). The Effects of Voting Costs on the Democratic Process and Public Finances. American Economic Journal: Economic Policy7(1), 141-71.

  3. Funke, M., Schularick, M., & Trebesch, C. (2016). Going to Extremes: Politics after Financial Crises, 1870–2014. European Economic Review88, 227-260.

  4. Gerber, A. S., Karlan, D., & Bergan, D. (2009). Does the Media Matter? A Field Experiment Measuring the Effect of Newspapers on Voting Behavior and Political Opinions. American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, 1(2), 35-52.

  5. DellaVigna, S., Durante, R., Knight, B., & La Ferrara, E. (2016). Market-Based Lobbying: Evidence from Advertising Spending in Italy. American Economic Journal: Applied Economics8(1), 224-56.

  6. Dal Bó, P., Foster, A., & Putterman, L. (2010). Institutions and Behavior: Experimental Evidence on the Effects of Democracy. American Economic Review100(5), 2205-29.

  7. Matsusaka, J. G. (2009.) Direct Democracy and Public Employees. American Economic Review, 99 (5), 2227-46.

  8. Persson, P., & Zhuravskaya, E. (2016). The Limits of Career Concerns in Federalism: Evidence from China. Journal of the European Economic Association14(2), 338-374.

  9. Pickering, A., & Rockey, J. (2011). Ideology and the Growth of Government. Review of Economics and Statistics93(3), 907-919.

  10. 10. Ehrmann, M., & Fratzscher, M. (2011). Politics and Monetary Policy. Review of Economics and Statistics, 93(3), 941-960.