PubPol 750.008

PubPol 750.008: Topics: Data for Policy Analysis

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Winter 2023
Winter 2023
Course Section
U-M Course Number
Credit Hours

Class will meet on:

February 1 
February 6
February 8
February 10 - Lab (10:00-11:50am, 3117 Weill Hall)
February 13
February 15
February 17 - Lab (10:00-11:50am, 3117 Weill Hall)

The development of public policies in the United States is strongly influenced by key indicators of the social and economic status of the population such as the unemployment rate, the poverty rate, the rate of inflation and mortality rates. The federal government gathers, tabulates and releases these data frequently. But they reflect decisions about what to measure and how to measure a concept. How does the nation define unemployment, or poverty or income? The first aim of this course is to provide information about the politics of the federal statistical system and how it is changing.

As a policy expert, you will likely be obligated to make several presentations each year to an audience of legislators, investors, or foundation executives. You will not want to present the elaborate statistical models that you would include in a journal article.  You will want to present illustrative charts and figures that may show how a policy has or will reduce poverty, increase college enrollment rates, or minimize racial and gender gaps in earnings or wealth.  The second aim of this course is to introduce students to sites that concisely present data from the federal statistical system that may be used for such reports.

This one-credit course will meet in a classroom five times for 80 minutes each.  There were be two sessions in a computer lab where you will access and download data. These will each be two-hour session. During the lab, the instructors will provide you with several policy-relevant examples to choose from. There will be guidance for using the data and how you might proceed. After each lab session, you will be asked to prepare a very brief report based on what you did in the lab. You are free to base this on something that is of interest to you. It does not have to be based on one of the examples provided by the instructors. At the end of the course, you will be asked to prepare a four- or five-page policy brief incorporating the skills you learned to access and present data about key issues.


This class meets in the first half of the semester (January 4 – February 21)
Add/drop deadline: Tuesday, January 17

Non-Ford students can register for Ford electives beginning December 6