Thirtieth NBER Summer Institute Held in 2009

In the summer of 2009, the NBER held its thirtieth annual Summer Institute. Over 1800 economists from more than 300 different universities and other economic research organizations throughout the world attended. There were 42 distinct meetings, representing all of the nineteen NBER research programs, and over 400 presentations. The Summer Institute included a panel discussion on the origins and effects of the global financial crisis, a set of Methodology Lectures on the use of field experiments in economics, and the first annual Martin Feldstein Lecture, which was delivered by John Taylor of Stanford University and NBER. A complete agenda and many of the papers presented at the various sessions are available on the NBER’s web site by clicking Summer Institute 2009 on our conference page.

Methodology Lectures Focus On Data Collection and Field Experiments

In 2007, the NBER Summer Institute introduced a new workshop series focused on empirical methodology and econometric tools. The workshops are designed to present overviews of current statistical and other methodological tools in a format that will assist empirical researchers in carrying out their own research. In 2007, the workshop focused on “Cross Section and Panel Data,” with lectures delivered by NBER Research Associate Guido Imbens of Harvard University and Jeffrey Woolridge of Michigan State University. In 2008, the lecture topic was “Time Series Econometrics,” with NBER Research Associates James Stock of Harvard University and Mark Watson of Princeton University as the presenters.

At the 2009 Summer Institute, the Methodology Lectures focused on data collection, with a particular emphasis on field experiments. NBER Research Associates Michael Kremer of Harvard University and John List of the University of Chicago described current best practices for carrying out investigator-designed and influenced experiments. These experiments are one means of obtaining new data and insights on economic issues. Their lectures attracted a substantial number of Summer Institute participants, including many of the graduate students who attended this year's meeting. List's lecture, "Using Field Experiments in Economics: An Introduction," and Kremer's "Conducting Field Research in Developing Countries," together provided a broad introduction to the theory and practice of this increasingly important aspect of empirical research. These speakers also discussed applications of field experiments in various sub-fields of economics.

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