Structure and Required Elements
Your Proposal must include the following elements (to be reviewed and worked on later):
1. Tentative title.
Choosing the final version of your title is one of the last things you will do (you read that
right!). However, at this stage you still need to provide a title. It is your presentation card.
Make your title as descriptive and revealing as possible. Be very specific and aim for a title
that clearly reflects the main theme, issue or position of your paper.
Use a subtitle if you think you will need it, for example to make the format of your paper
explicit. E.g. “Health and Economic Growth: The Negative Impact of HIV/AIDS on
Remember the three operators of a Boolean search are AND, OR, NOT. When you use AND, the search will look
for anything with all the terms. If you use OR, the search will look for anything with any of the terms. Use NOT and
the search will omit anything with these terms.
What led you to this topic and this issue? Beyond your personal interest in your subject, you
should provide a convincing answer to the following questions: Why is your subject relevant
for the field of economics? For society as a whole? In other words, why should we (your
peers and economics faculty) want to read about it?
3. Rough overview.
Later, this will take the form of a proper Literature Review or a Background Review. At the
Proposal stage, use broad strokes to place your topic and issue within the field of Economics.
Where does this topic/issue stand in relation to others in Economics? What do we know
about it? What do we not know? What should we know? What is the state-of-the-art with
regards to it? What is the consensus view? Are there any alternative or dissenting views?
Consulting a good textbook may provide you with an excellent frame for your subject. If so,
use your own words to explain it to us, and do not forget to cite and reference the textbook
properly (see the last point below).
4. Your original contribution.
Do not be intimidated by this component. Do you have any specific question or hypothesis in
mind? Are you reviewing a concrete topic (perhaps for the first time)? Are you trying to
establish a link between two ideas? Do you have a specific policy proposal? Are you
planning to do a survey? Do you want to apply a model, a concept, a theory or a technique to
a specific case (a country or an industry, for example)? Any of these will constitute your
Explain how you plan to work on your subject. Plan your steps throughout the semester, so
you can time and manage your deliverables more effectively.
Are you going to rely on prior empirical work and secondary data sources? Is your analysis
more qualitative, historical, theoretical, etc.? What other types of sources are you planning to
use? Why have you chosen this particular methodology?
You can also try to break your assignment into sub-tasks and pencil the sequence of actions
you will undertake.
6. List of references, APA style.
Provide a list of the readings you have used while ‘figuring out’ what you will work on and
how you plan to do it.
At the Proposal stage, you do not need to do in-text citation (unless you are ready to do so),
but you do have to submit a list of references following the American Psychological
Association (APA) guidelines, which is the style most social sciences follow.
Follow instructions in the presentation that I have uploaded in the Course Materials section
of Blackboard. In it, you will also find links to more detailed instructions.
Advice Get used to this style early on; it can be tricky and time consuming to do so later!
Non-Exclusive List of Topics
I have compiled a list of topics to help you decide what you want to work on. Some topics are
more general than others. Remember you must choose a specific and concrete issue within
your topic of choice!
1. Beyond GDP. Are there better ways to measure well-being? Why are they better?
2. Structural change and development economics.
3. Twin deficits, what are they? What is their impact on the economy?
4. The role of monetary policy and central banks.
5. Technological progress, technology transfer, how policies can spur or kill them.
6. Is ‘premature deindustrialization’ a characteristic of the ‘new’ economic growth model for
7. The role of population growth in economic growth. What do we know? Case studies?
8. Are developing countries getting old before they get rich? What are the reasons? Effects?
9. Saving, the role of the financial sector within economics.
10. Small and medium enterprises (SME), how important are they? What specific problems do they
face? How can policies help them?
11. Microfinance, what is it and does it work?
12. Human capital, education, health. What is their role in economic growth?
13. The gender wage gap, what is it and is it closing? What policies can we apply?
14. The career cost of children; career vs fertility.
15. International trade vs protectionism, what is better?
16. Exchange rate systems: flexible vs fixed, advantages and disadvantages.
17. Currency crisis, what is it and what policies ought to be applied?
18. Monetary systems, the European Monetary System, advantages and disadvantages.
19. Migratory flows (internal and external), causes and effects.
20. The urban informal sector; what is it and how do we measure it?
21. Entrepreneurship in the informal economy.
22. Income distribution and inequality: causes, evolution, measurement, consequences. Policies?
23. Are culture and geography important in economics? How? What do we know?
24. Indigenous populations, what are the reasons for indigenomics?
25. The role of the State, the role of institutions in economic growth.
26. Regulation, what is ‘regulatory capture’? What examples of it can we study?
27. Corruption, governance, rent-seeking: causes, impact, policies.
28. Social capital, what is it and what is its role?
29. Environmental issues, environmental policies.
30. Ecosystem services; what are they? How are they valued? Case studies?
31. Carbon taxes, do they work? Pros and cons.
32. Cap and trade systems, emission trade permits: what are they, how do they work (or not).
33. Management of natural resources. Case studies: fisheries (the case of Northern cod), forestry, etc.
34. Behavioral economics, behavioral finance, what are they and how do they depart from economic
orthodoxy? How do they affect fundamental assumptions in traditional economics?
35. Complexity economics, evolutionary economics, what are they and how do they affect our views
on policy-making and forecasting?
36. Heterodox approaches in economics, how are they defined? What can we learn from them?
37. Health economics; the healthcare system in the US, is it more expensive? Why? Policies?
38. Cryptocurrencies: What are they? Are they a true alternative to our current monetary system?
39. Cashless societies: how do they work?
40. Blockchain technology. Economic applications beyond cryptocurrencies; regulatory issues;
41. Sustainable tourism. What is it? How can it be implemented? Any case studies?
42. Real estate or financial bubbles. What are they? Can they be predicted? Can they be prevented?
Can macroprudential rules make a difference?
43. Economics of climate change. What should we know? What needs to be done?
44. Economics of natural disasters. What policies are in place?
45. Alternative energy sources: are they viable? Any case studies?
46. Universal basic income. What is it? Does it work? Any case studies?
47. Economics of obesity. Analysis of causes and costs.
48. Economics of crime and policing.
49. Organ markets and organ allocation. How does it work? Should there be markets?
50. Artificial intelligence. What does it mean for occupation and the economy?
51. Artificial intelligence: What does it mean for commerce and e-commerce?
52. Self-driving cars: a case of disruptive innovation? Consequences? Regulation?
You can also choose a policy, the importance of and current consensus on:
* Investing in people
* Improving the climate for enterprise
* Supporting small and medium enterprises (SME)
* Integration with the world economy
* Supporting free trade
* Building solid macro foundations
Likewise, you must narrow down the issue.
Resources to Find Data
Statistical Abstract of the US
Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA): http://www.bea.doc.gov
National Income and Product Accounts (NIPA)
Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS): http://www.bls.gov
Consumer Price Index (CPI)
Consumer Expenditure Survey (CEX)
Current Employment Statistics (CES)
National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER): http://www.nber.org
US business cycles
US Federal Reserve Board of Governors: http://www.federalreserve.gov/rnd.htm
Financial data (e.g., credit, flows of assets, interest rates, money supply)
St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank: http://research.stlouisfed.org/fred2/
FRED II (Federal Reserve Economic Data)
Relatively long time-series of macro variables for the US (e.g., consumer price indices,
exchange rates, interest rates, money aggregates, trade flows)
Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD): http://www.sourceoecd.org
Development, employment, health, national accounts
The World Bank: http://www.worldbank.org/data
World Development Indicators (WDI)
Global Development Finance (GDF)
The International Monetary Fund (IMF): http://www.imf.org
GDP growth, inflation, unemployment, debt
International Financial Statistics (IFS): exchange rates, trade, government accounts,
United Nations Development Program (UNDP): http://www.undp.org
Human Development Index (HDI)
Human Poverty Index (HPI)
World Institute for Development Economics Research (WIDER): http://www.wider.unu.edu/
World Income Inequality Database (WIID)
Comprehensive database of measures of income inequality (Gini coefficient) across
several countries and through time
Integrated Public Use Microdata Series (IPUMS): http://www.ipums.umn.edu
Vast amount of socioeconomic data
US Census Current Population Survey (CPS): http://www.census.gov/cps/
Vast amount of socioeconomic data
National Longitudinal Surveys (NLS): http://www.bls.gov/nls/home.htm
Vast amount of data on labor market activities
Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID): http://www.isr.umich.edu/src/psid
Vast amount of data on households’ income sources, employment, occupation, poverty