Economic Transparency and Political (In)stability - GOVT 367 (Intructor: James Raymond Vreeland, Professor 2.0)  

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ECONOMIC TRANSPARENCY AND POLITICAL (IN)STABILITY (Course number GOVT 367)


Classroom location: Intercultural Center (ICC) 214
Class day & time: Wednesday, 3:30pm-6pm

This webpage/syllabus is designed to be used throughout the semester. Below you will find links to the readings for each of the 14 class sessions. Where possible, reading assignments have been linked to electronic versions available on the Internet. Otherwise, the assignment is available at the library and the bookstore. Students visiting this page for the first time should read through the entire syllabus. If you have any questions or comments about the web page or the course, please contact me.

Be sure to click on the links throughout the syllabus – there are some Easter eggs...

  • Course Description
  • Learning Goals
  • Requirements
  • Course book
  • Electronic resources useful for the course (including webpages for databases!)
  • In the event of a campus closure causing the cancelation of class, the instructor will communicate with students through email.
  • September 6: Introduction to student research on transparency
  • September 13: Economic transparency and political (in)stability
  • September 20: Facets of transparency, the HRV Index, and alternative measures of transparency
  • September 27: Transparency and (In)stability – The Theory PART 1: Autocracies
  • October 4: Transparency and (In)stability – The Theory PART 2: Democracies
  • October 11: How to find examples and present descriptive data
  • Upperclass Student Deficiency Reports Due: October 13
  • October 18: Student presentations
  • October 25: Regression Analyses
  • November 1: Economic impacts of transparency
  • November 8: Why Democracies Disseminate More Data Than Autocracies
  • November 15: Why Autocrats Disclose - PART 1: The theory
  • November 22: Why Autocrats Disclose - PART 2: The evidence
  • November 29: Consequences of transparency
  • December 6: Student presentations
  • December 12: Final papers due
  • Study days: December 8-11 (There is no final exam for this course.)
  • Examinations: December 12-20 (There is no final exam for this course.)


    Course Description:
    Activists and advocates for economic development and political reform often call for greater transparency. But what does transparency really mean? And what are its economic and political consequences?

    In this research-oriented course, we will address these questions with attention to a specific facet of transparency: the dissemination of economic data. Vital for efficient investment decisions, data-availability varies tremendously across countries and time. We will examine an original measure of data dissemination called the HRV Index, named for the scholars who developed it: James R. Hollyer, B. Peter Rosendorff, and James Raymond Vreeland.

    The course is divided into three parts. First, we will examine measures of different facets of transparency, comparing them to the HRV Index. Second, we will consider the consequences of data disclosure for political stability; we will study mass unrest, coups, transitions to democracy, the breakdown of democracy, and the removal of democratic leaders (through constitutional and extra-constitutional means). Third, we will consider why governments choose to disclose data. We will consider economic explanations, looking at the impact of transparency on investment. We will also look at the contrasting motivations of democratic and autocratic leaders to disclose.

    What does it mean to call the course "research-oriented"? Students will be given exercises throughout the semester to develop their own research projects. The goal of the course will be to produce original research papers with the potential to be published.

    Students will conduct quantitative research on transparency. Projects may involve looking at the effect of transparency on a new economic or political factor of interest. Alternatively, students may seek to discover a new determinant of data dissemination. Or students may compare different measures of transparency -- even developing a new measure of transparency for themselves.

    One additional highlight for this year -- students will be reading a book manuscript on transparency that is under contract with Cambridge University Press. Students are invited to make suggestions on the writing of the book, as the professor and his colleagues prepare it for final submission to be published.

    No previous experience is expected of the students. The only prerequisite is a passion for learning – and an interest in numbers. The course has a heavy quantitative component as most of the research we address in the course employs quantitative data. If you would like to use statistics in an applied setting, this is the course for you.

    The assignments for this class are designed to give the students the opportunity to develop a research project of their own in parallel with the research projects that we will study in class. The goal of the course is for students to learn how to construct an original research project -- perhaps for their senior essay or perhaps for publication in an academic journal.

    Hopefully the prospect of publishing original research is inspiring. We will read successful publications of former students. If they can do it, you can too! But it's also probably pretty daunting. How do we even get started?

    All research begins with a question, and thus the students should start with a question of their own. The course will then teach the students how to develop an answer to their question (or a hypothesis), and how to test their hypotheses. From a methodological point of view, we will be concerned with questions of "endogeneity" and "non-random selection." In other words, we will be concerned with distinguishing the circumstances under which phenomena take place from their inherent effects.

    You can pursue publishable research in political economy, and your path to this goal can begin in this class...


    Learning Goals:
    Perhaps more useful for the future, this course goes beyond the substance of transparency and is designed to teach students specific research skills. The learning goals include:

    (1) How to manage data (using STATA), (2) How to write a do-file in STATA, (3) How to write a clear, concise abstract, (4) How to conduct quantitative research in political economy, (5) How to write a research paper, (6) How to prepare papers for conferences and journal submission, (7) How to present research.


    Requirements:

    This section has five parts: (1) Class Leadership, (2) Short writing assignments, (3) Long writing assignment, (4) Class presentations, and (5) STATA. Please read through all five parts carefully.

    Note that the course grade will be determined by class participation & attendance – including your presentations and your attention to the presentations of others (1/3), short-writing assignments (1/3), and the long writing assignment (1/3).

      (1) Class Leadership:

      The main text for this class has 10 chapters. Each student will be assigned to lead the discussion for each chapter. Depending on the number of students (and their background in game theory and econometrics) we will have some sessions that are team-led. Leadership will contribute to the overall participation grade.


      (2) Short writing assignments:

      • September 13: What is your primary dependent variable of interest? (What are you explaining?) What is your primary independent variable of interest? (What do you hypothesize does the explaining?) What kind of "selection" problems do you face? (1-2 pages, double-spaced)

      • September 20: Data! What are the, respective, means, medians, standard deviations, minimum values, and maximum values of your main dependent and independent variables? What are the sources of these data? What is the unit of observation (e.g., country-year)? How many observations do you have of each variable? (1-2 pages, double-spaced) CLICK FOR ELECTRONIC RESOURCES

      • September 27: Annotated bibliography! Find at least 20 academic articles related to your research. Provide a summary sentence linking the main finding of the article to your specific project.

      • October 4: List case studies. Why did you choose these cases (discuss in terms of the distributions of your independent and/or dependent variables)? (1-2 pages, double-spaced)

      • October 11: (Preliminary) Presentations Rough outline: (1) Research question, (2) Hypothesis, (3) Methodology, (4) Results (if any are available), (5) Conclusion (you probably won't have one yet!)

      • October 18: Presentations (Powerpoint)

      • October 25: What is the correlation between your independent and dependent variables? What other factors influence your dependent variable? How do you account for them?

      • November 1: Abstract! (1) Research question, (2) Hypothesis, (3) Methodology, (4) Result, (5) Conclusion (150 words)

      • November 8: Multivariate regression: Just do it.

      • November 15: Put it together! (1) abstract, (2) introduction, (3) background (remember the annotated bibliography?), (4) cases, (5) descriptive data, (6) multivariate results, (7) conclusion

      • November 22: Share comments on each other's drafts.

      • November 29: Share comments on each other's drafts.

      • December 6: Final Presentations

        Nota bene:
        All short written assignments are due electronically by 10:15am on the date listed above at my email address: jrv24@georgetown.edu. Students are required to complete 10 out of 11 assignments. Late assignments will *NOT* be accepted. Assignments should be double-spaced with 12-point font and (at least) 1 inch margins. Please be sure to familiarize yourself with Georgetown’s honor system.

        Also note that perhaps the most important part of the writing process is the pain of re-writing, and re-writing, and... re-writing.

        YOUR FILE ***MUST*** BE NAMED:

                  GOVT367_####_LASTNAME,

        WHERE "#" REPRESENTS THE MONTH & DAY AND "LASTNAME" REPRESENTS YOUR LAST/FAMILY NAME.

        FOR EXAMPLE, THE FIRST ASSIGNMENT (due Sept 13) FOR A STUDENT NAMED Joann Gayoung Kim WOULD BE SAVED AS: GOVT367_0913_kim

        FOR A STUDENT NAMED Sumegh Sodani, THE FIRST ASSIGNMENT WOULD BE SAVED AS: GOVT367_0913_sodani

        If you don't name the file exactly as instructed, you may not receive credit from me (because the file will go astray).


      (3) Long writing assignment (due date December 12):
      After you "put it together," I will read your paper very carefully over Thanksgiving and give it back to you on November 30. You should then revise your paper and turn in the final version in by December 12.

      (4) Class presentations:
      You will make two presentations in class (noted above). I will provide detailed instructions on how to structure the presentations, and you will be given strict time limits. The purpose of these exercises is to give you practice for real-life presentations that you will surely make throughout your careers. Many highly successful past students have told me that this aspect of the course has been the most valuable in advancing them through their careers. Note that the first presentation will involve only a preliminary discussion of your research plans, while the second presentation will involve more substance. Also note that I will grade you as more on how you treat your fellow students' presentations than on your own presentation. You should plan to pay attention to the other presentations, of course, and also to pose good questions and provide constructive feedback following the presentations.

      (5) STATA:
      The University has a site license for Stata. All students should install Stata on their laptops and plan to bring their laptops to class. To install Stata, please click this link to get to the GU "Software Webstore." Search for "Stata," place it in your "cart" and then "check out" for free! Then follow the (long set of) instructions to install Stata on your laptop. If you do not have a laptop and would like to borrow one for class, loaners are available - just ask me about the program. Otherwise, if you prefer to work on a desktop, you can look on in class with a member of your research team. Stata is also available on all computers in the labs on campus.


    The book for this course is a draft manuscript, available on Blackboard.


    Electronic resources useful for the course (including webpages for databases!):




    Course Outline


    September 6: Introduction to student research on transparency


      REQUIRED WRITING ASSIGNMENT:
      None



    September 13: Economic transparency and political (in)stability


      REQUIRED WRITING ASSIGNMENT:
      (1) What is your primary DEPENDENT variable of interest? (What are you explaining?)
      (2) What is your primary INDEPENDENT variable of interest? (What do you hypothesize does the explaining?)
      (3) What kind of "selection" problems do you face? (1-2 pages, double-spaced)




    September 20: Facets of transparency, the HRV Index, and alternative measures of transparency


      REQUIRED WRITING ASSIGNMENT:
      Data!
      What are the, respective, means, medians, standard deviations, minimum values, and maximum values of your main dependent and independent variables?
      What are the sources of these data?
      What is the unit of observation (e.g., country-year)?
      How many observations do you have of each variable? (1-2 pages, double-spaced)
      CLICK FOR ELECTRONIC RESOURCES



    September 27: Transparency and (In)stability – The Theory PART 1: Autocracies


      REQUIRED WRITING ASSIGNMENT:
      Annotated bibliography!
      Find at least 20 academic articles related to your research. Provide a summary sentence linking the main finding of the article to your specific project.



    October 4: Transparency and (In)stability – The Theory PART 2: Democracies


      REQUIRED WRITING ASSIGNMENT:
      What is the correlation between your independent and dependent variables?



    October 11: How to find examples and present descriptive data


      REQUIRED WRITING ASSIGNMENT:
      List case studies. Why did you choose these cases (discuss in terms of the distributions of your independent and/or dependent variables)? (1-2 pages, double-spaced)



    October 18: Student presentations


      REQUIRED READING ASSIGNMENT:
      none


    October 25: Regression Analyses


      REQUIRED WRITING ASSIGNMENT:
      What is the correlation between your independent and dependent variables? What other factors influence your dependent variable? How do you account for them?



    November 1: Economic impacts of transparency


      REQUIRED WRITING ASSIGNMENT:
      Abstract!
      (1) Research question, (2) Hypothesis, (3) Methodology, (4) Result, (5) Conclusion (150 words)



    November 8: Why Democracies Disseminate More Data Than Autocracies


      REQUIRED WRITING ASSIGNMENT:
      Multivariate regression: Just do it.



    November 15: Why Autocrats Disclose - PART 1: The theory


      REQUIRED WRITING ASSIGNMENT:
      Put it together! (1) abstract, (2) introduction, (3) background (remember the annotated bibliography?), (4) cases, (5) descriptive data, (6) multivariate results, (7) conclusion



    November 22: Why Autocrats Disclose - PART 2: The evidence


      REQUIRED WRITING ASSIGNMENT:
      Share comments on each other's drafts.



    November 29: Consequences of transparency


      REQUIRED WRITING ASSIGNMENT:
      Share comments on each other's drafts.



    December 6: Student presentations


      REQUIRED READING ASSIGNMENT:
      none





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