Using Big Data to Solve Economic and Social Problems

This is an old version of this course taught at Stanford in 2017; click here for the latest version, taught at Harvard in 2019.

This introductory course, taught by Raj Chetty, shows how "big data" can be used to understand and solve some of the most important social and economic problems of our time. The course gives students an introduction to frontier research in applied economics and social science that does not require prior coursework in Economics or Statistics. Topics include equality of opportunity, education, health, the environment, and criminal justice. In the context of these topics, the course provides an introduction to basic statistical methods and data analysis techniques, including regression analysis, causal inference, quasi-experimental methods, and machine learning.

To learn more about the motivation for this new class, see this article.

Lecture Materials

Description Materials
Course Syllabus Syllabus (PDF, DOCX)
Complete Set of 11 Lectures Slides (ZIP) Videos (YouTube)
Lecture 1
Introduction and the Geography of Upward Mobility
Slides (PDF, PPT) Video (YouTube)
Lecture 2
Policies to Improve Upward Mobility
Slides (PDF, PPT) Video (YouTube)
Lecture 3
Opportunity, Innovation, and Economic Growth
Slides (PDF, PPT) Video (YouTube)
Lecture 4
Higher Education
Slides (PDF, PPT) Video (YouTube)
Lecture 5
Primary Education
Slides (PDF, PPT) Video (YouTube)
Lecture 6
Do Charter Schools Work?
Slides (PDF, PPT) Video (YouTube)
Lecture 7
Improving Health Outcomes
Slides (PDF, PPT) Video (YouTube)
Lecture 8
The Economics of Health Care and Insurance
Slides (PDF, PPT) Video (YouTube)
Lecture 9
Social Costs of Climate Change and Pollution
Slides (PDF, PPT) Video (YouTube)
Lecture 10
Policies to Mitigate Climate Change
Slides (PDF, PPT) Video (YouTube)
Lecture 11
Criminal Justice and Discrimination
Slides (PDF, PPT) Video (YouTube)