Isn't Econometrics Boring?

Instructor: Josh Angrist, MIT

We ask MIT economist Josh Angrist: Isn’t econometrics boring? After a bit of a scary confrontation, we get down to the answer.

He thinks this common misconception is a failure of teachers. Econometrics is often taught as a kind of applied mathematics with a lot of abstract theory.

In fact, the subject deals intimately with many of the questions that are of greatest importance to our personal lives and to matters of public policy. Does health insurance lead to greater health? Do private universities result in better wages? How should the Federal Reserve respond in a recession or depression?

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Isn't econometrics boring? Who says? Well, if you think econometrics is boring, I have to say that your teachers have failed you. Perhaps you suffered through an econometrics course that basically treats the discipline as kind of applied mathematics -- very theoretical, very abstract. One of the unique things about our approach in the "Mastering Econometrics" video series, and in my books with Steve Pischke, is the focus on questions, actual causal questions that are interesting and important in my students' lives. For example, whether it matters if you go to an expensive private college -- does that change your life course in the form of higher earnings? -- whether health insurance makes you healthier, whether federal reserve monetary policy might have changed the course of the Great Depression or the Great Recession, whether growing up in a state where you're allowed to drink alcohol legally before age 21 would matter for death rates in that state. These questions matter personally to my students. In some cases they involve issues of life and death, and they matter to our country. They're the central public policy issues of the day. Ready to master econometrics? Click here to embark on a educational journey with Josh Angrist, a.k.a. Master Joshway. Or, if you'd like to watch more from this interview series, click here. 


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