EC386 Health Economics

EC386 Health Economics (Term paper)
Autumn 2020
Lecturer: Dr. Nicholas Reynolds
UNIVERSITY OF ESSEX

The Assignment for EC386 takes the form of a term paper (extended essay) to be submitted no
later than 12:00 on 22 January, 2021 via FASer (the University’s online coursework submission
facility). Late submissions receive a mark of zero: no extensions are granted. See the
Undergraduate Economics Handbook, pages 28–9. You are responsible for complying with the
University’s regulations on academic offences. See Undergraduate Economics Handbook, pages
55–8.
The term paper will be similar to the formative assessment you completed — with a focus on
critically evaluating the claims and evidence of an article or other source (see below for the list
of possible sources). The goal of the paper will be to assess the substantive claim and empirical
support made in the article/other source. You will also be asked to describe additional evidence
for or against the claims. This will require looking on your own for additional sources written on
the topic.
The term paper will be substantially longer than the formative assessment and should follow the
structure and format of a paper — with a logical structure, citations etc. It should be 2,000-3,000
words and should convey a thoughtful, critical engagement with the main source as well as
additional research into other sources on the same topic.
Read carefully the sections of the Undergraduate Economic Handbook: “A Guide to Good
Practice in Assessed Work” and “Making the Best of Your Essays, Term Papers and Projects”.
You are strongly advised to read and follow this guidance.
What your paper should cover
Your goal in this paper will be to describe and assess the argument made in the article/source.
The list of articles you can choose from are below.
Write the paper as if you are describing the argument to a scholar who is familiar with
mathematics, analytical thinking, and economics, but is not an expert in the particular topic
covered.
Explain to them the argument made in the article in your own words.

Explain the important assumptions that underlie the argument. This may include theoretical
assumptions which are very difficult or impossible to test. It may also include some empirical
facts which they cite to support their argument — but which may be disputed by other scholars.
Give your own assessment of the likely validity of the assumptions and therefore of the
conclusions made in the argument. This will involve both critical thinking AND secondary
research of your own.
You can start this assessment by looking at the articles which your source cites. You should also
look yourself in Google scholar or other sources for additional research relevant to assessing the
authors’ argument.
Finally, describe additional tests that could be carried out to further assess the validity of the
author’s claim. The more concrete the better here. For example, you could describe a particular
empirical relationship that the author(s) could examine to potentially falsify their theory. You
can also describe if any of these tests have already been conducted by other researchers — and if
you think they falsify the author(s) theory.
Possible topics
Below you will find a list of sources/topics. Pick ONE of the following sources to evaluate for
your paper:

  1. The causal effect of education on chronic health: Evidence from the UK
    Katharina Janke, David Johnston, Carol Propper, Michael A Shields
    https://voxeu.org/article/causal-effect-education-chronic-health-evidence-uk
  2. The BCG vaccine does not protect against COVID-19: Applying an economist’s toolkit
    to a medical question
    Richard Bluhm, Maxim Pinkovskiy
    https://voxeu.org/article/bcg-vaccine-does-not-protect-against-covid-19
  3. Pregnancy during the pandemic
    Hannes Schwandt
    https://voxeu.org/article/pregnancy-during-pandemic
  4. Free to choose?
    Marty Gaynor, Carol Propper, Stephan Seiler
    https://voxeu.org/article/free-choose
    Alternatively, you may select you own article that makes a theoretical claim about health
    economics (broadly defined) to evaluate. If you choose your own piece to evaluate, you must
    check with me by email with your topic proposal no later than 11th December 2020 . A good
    place to look for alternative articles would be voxeu.org.

If I have not approved an alternative piece/topic by that date you must choose one of the
above topics!

How the paper should be structured
Your paper should be logically organized into sentences and paragraphs.
A good structure would be to include the following sections:

  1. Introduction
    Describe in one short paragraph what your paper will be about. Ie. that you will
    describe and assess this set of tweets. Preview what your overall assessment of the
    argument will be in 1-2 sentences.
  2. Description of author(s) argument and assumptions
    Describe in your own words the arguments made by the author’s. State the
    assumptions as you go.
  3. Assessment of assumptions and claims
    Assess some of the key assumptions and therefore provide your opinion of the likely
    validity of the claims. Again, this is where references to other sources will be
    essential.
  4. Possible alternative tests
    Describe additional tests that could be carried out to further assess the validity of the
    author(s) claim.
  5. Conclusion
    Briefly restate the argument of the source and your assessment of it.
  6. Reference list
    You should end with a reference list citing all of the sources you have used in your
    paper.

Figures and equations may be helpful in making you argument, and if you include them, they
should be included in the body of the paper.
Other Points
Check carefully the sections of the Undergraduate Economic Handbook: “A Guide to Good
Practice in Assessed Work” and “Making the Best of Your Essays, Term Papers and Projects”.
You are strongly advised to read and follow this guidance
Avoid academic offences

Never copy from any source unless the words copied are enclosed in “quotation
marks” and are properly referenced. See the academic integrity page here for more information:
https://www.essex.ac.uk/student/academic-skills/academic-integrity. I encourage you to also take
the academic integrity online course if you have not already
(https://moodle.essex.ac.uk/enrol/index.php?id=5844)
The University (and I) take academic integrity very seriously.
Avoid long quotations
Use quotations for a given purpose, such as stating someone’s position or view. Do
not let quotations be a substitute for your own exposition: do not be afraid to use your
own words.
Always provide bibliographical references, with full publication details (e.g. journal title, volume
and page numbers; working paper series; book publisher and location). List references
alphabetically by the first author’s surname.
Presentation matters
Pay attention to coherence, style and layout. Use word processing and double linespacing with a
12 point font. Write in coherent, grammatically correct English and check spelling.
Keep to the word limit. Term papers should not exceed 3,000 words. In general, they should be
at least 2,000 words.