Law and Economics
Term Paper Assignment
Introduction: Identifying and Justifying a Research Topic
The goals of this assignment are the selection of a research topic/question for follow-on quantitative analysis and justification of the importance of the study. The assignment should include the following:
1) State the issue and/or research problem/question. What is the intent of your analysis? It is good to formulate your question with a “how” or “why” question. For example: 1) How do immigrant laws affect assimilation into the labor market? Or, 2) How does increased traffic law enforcement decrease fatalities?
2) In four or five double-spaced paragraphs, justify why this is an important topic. Envision submitting the idea to a government agency or corporate client for funding. Address the following questions: 1) Why is research necessary on this law and economics topic? 2) How will it help lawmakers develop good policies or change existing policies? 3) How will it contribute to the growth of knowledge of law and economics?
3) Prepare a synthesis of the findings from the literature. The process begins with a survey of the scholarly literature in the selected research area: the literature will help conceptualize and operationalize your issue of importance and /or research question. The scholarly literature can be initially accessed via Google Scholar, but must include searches of EconLit and JStor, as well as other resources accessible via the NU Libraries.
It is expected that many citations will be considered and included in a “bibliography,” and most ofnthem will be detailed in the literature review. Focus on reputable peer-reviewed articles or books (and state your method for determining the quality of each reference) and publications since 2002 (older publications may be definitive, but it important to access the most recent state-of-the-art references).
This assignment will require the inclusion of two major parts: 1) the theoretical background and hypothesis; and 2) the analytical section.
Background and Hypothesis
Building upon the literature review, this section of the term paper will link the quantitative analysis directly to the existing literature. Theories, explanatory frameworks and/or empirical evidence pertinent to your research question are to be presented: additional sources will be added as appropriate (the final term paper should have five to seven sources in total).
For the “research question,” the following needs to be considered:
1) What is the theoretical basis for answering the research question? That is, what are the arguments, given the existing theories, about how you key independent variable “X” is associated with the dependent variable “Y”? Each theory should provide an argument about the relationship. If this is not explicit, an extrapolation from theory about how “X” affects “Y” needs to be applied.
2) How does the research build upon findings of earlier studies? In discussing how theory relates X to Y, existing studies that reinforce the relationship with theory should be stated. Accordingly, the theory explanation can be placed in a research context.
In constructing the research approach, at least two theories or two arguments should be made to explain the relationship between Y and X. (Hence, support the theory of interest by eliminating the competing theory of disinterest). With the establishment of the competing theories and/or arguments, the supporting references should be assigned to the appropriate theory/argument (“put into ‘piles’ corresponding to the theories”). Important questions to consider are: what concepts are being used in each theory? What are the results? Do they support the theories? How does the finding of follow-on articles support/refute earlier work?
In drafting the research approach, briefly summarize competing theories relevant to your argument. Specify major assumptions and key concepts of the theory of interest (the “Y” that explains “X”). With the details assembled, create a section called “Hypotheses.” State at least one hypothesis about the relationship between X and Y for the theory you present. Your hypotheses should follow logically from the description of the theories/literature in the outline.
This section requires the description of the data used in conducting your analysis, outline the how the variables in the study are operartionalized, and described how you test the hypotheses. Briefly describe the data: what is it? And, how will it be used? What is the unit of analysis? (for example, fatal crash; individual driver) What is the data source? (Be as specific as possible).
The goal of assignment #2 is the synthesis and augmentation of the materials written in assignments #1 along with the quantitative (empirical) findings of your final research effort. The following sections should be included:
-follow the guidelines from assignment #1—briefly restate;
2) Theory/Literature Review
-present competing arguments
-explain how references explain the relationship between independent and dependent variables, and competing arguments
-references should be included according to how they inform the research and on a study-by-study basis
-present competing hypotheses
-link directly to section 2
-the unit of analysis (for example, the individual product consumer, lease-holder, or company)
– analyses and/or data source(s)
-strengths and weaknesses of the analyses and/or data
-key independent variables
-how are the variables related
-explanatory ability of the model
-how results support competing hypotheses
-tables of statistical findings
-research objectives, data used, analytical results and significance of the effort
Please use section headings in order to improve the flow of the paper. The final report should be double-spaces and 5-7 pages (excluding references and tables). The final paper should be free of spelling and/or grammatical mistakes.
Due Date: Thursday February 27, 2014. Please be prepared to briefly present your thesis/issue review in class and submit a hard-copy. Also submit an electronic version via Blackboard.
Examples of Bibliographic Citations
1)Journal Article/Newspaper Article
Bruning, Edward R. 1989. “The Relationship Between Profitability and Safety Performance in Trucking Firms.” Transportation Journal. 28(3):40-49.
Choi, Seungmook, Don Hardigree and Paul D. Thistle. 2002. “The Property/Liability Insurance Cycle: A Comparison of Alternative Models.” Southern Economic Journal. 68(3):530-548.
Breyer, Stephen. 1993. Breaking the Vicious Circle: Toward Effective Risk Regulation. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
3)Chapter in a book
Arrow, Kenneth J., Maureen L. Cropper, George C. Eads, et al. 2002. “Is there a Role for Benefit-Cost Analysis in Environmental, Health, and Safety Regulation.” Pp. 153-158 in Lawrence O. Gostin, Public Health Law and Ethics: A Reader. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.
Savage, Ian. 1999. “The Economics of Commercial Transportation Safety.” Pp. 531-562 in Essays in Transportation Economics and Policy. Editors: Jose Gomez-Ibanez, William B. Tye, and Clifford Winston. Washington D.C.: Brookings Institution Press.
Examples of Citations within a Paper
1) Savage (1999) argues that the socially optimal number of commercial vehicle crashes will exceed the minimum number that is technically feasible.
2) The socially optimal number of commercial vehicle crashes will exceed the minimum number that is technically feasible (Savage 1999).
3) “Risk-related matters that enter the forum of public debate may have to pass political as well as technical tests for safety.” (Breyer 1993:55)
4) According to Breyer (1993:55), “risk-related matters that enter the forum of public debate may have to pass political as well as technical tests for safety.”