Professor: Rob Wassmer, Ph.D.


Home Page:

Office: Room 3037, Tahoe (Business) Building

Office Phone: 278 - 6304

Office Hours: Wednesday and Thursday, 4:00 - 6:00 p.m.; and by appointment if necessary.

Required Texts:

(1) Using Econometrics: A Practical Guide, 3rd Edition, A.H. Studenmund, Addison Wesley;

available for purchase at bookstore or on web at Amazon.Com ;

(2) The Data Game: Controversies in Social Science Statistics, 3rd Edition, Mark H. Maier, Sharpe;

available for purchase at bookstore or on web at Amazon.Com ;

(3) SPSS Base 10.0 (Graduate Pack): Applications Guide and CD-ROM, 2000;

must be purchased at CSUS Bookstore in computer department;

(4) County Fiscal Stress: Cause and Consequence in California after Proposition 13, 1999, Robert W. Wassmer and Charles Anders;

available for download at ;

(5) Alcohol Availability and Crime in California Cities, 1999, Erin Riches;

available for download at ;

Data Set:

On the first day of class I will provide a disk that contains the data set used in my County Fiscal Stress paper. We will use it for examples throughout the course.


I have structured this course such that you must have an internet account that allows access to the World Wide Web. If you do not have one at home or work, you can get one through CSUS. At my homepage I will post an outline of each meeting and a description of the homework that is due at the following meeting. These will be available at 2 p.m. the day of class. There will also be other handouts and web links posted at this site.


To expose the graduate student of public policy to some of the empirical methods used in the analysis and formulation of government policies. These include descriptive statistics, types and sources of data, distributions of data, regression analysis and interpretation, and some of the basic issues/problems that can arise in regression analysis. My goal is not to turn you into an expert on statistical and econometric theory; instead, I shall provide you with a working knowledge of the most basic techniques. Even if one expects to never apply these techniques directly in their anticipated career path, it is very likely that they will be required to interpret and comment on reports that contain policy analysis based on these techniques.


Pedagogy will be equally focused on in-class meetings and discussions, required assignments out of the Studenmond book, and assignments using SPSS and a data set that corresponds to the Wassmer and Anders paper in the coursepack. There will also be internet based assignments corresponding to chapters in The Data Game. Each class meeting will begin with discussion and collection of the previous week’s assignments. Only the student who completed the assignment can turn it in (my method of attendance). After 90 minutes we will take a 15-minute break and then return for an additional 65 minutes of meeting. In-class time will also be devoted to covering the use of the SPSS computer package. It is most important that you use this package to get hands-on experience with the methods discussed in this class. Computer assignments will be due nearly every class period. If possible, the optimal situation is to install the purchased software on a home, work, or friend’s IBM compatible personal computer.


This class will meet a total of 15 times throughout the semester. The midterm exam (105 minutes) will be held in the first part of class on Wednesday, March 29 (an hour meeting will follow). There will be no final exam, but we will use the assigned time (Wednesday, May 24, 6:00-8:00 p.m.) to turn in your paper and a classroom discussion of your research experience. The readings out of Maier (M) and Studenmund (STUD) are given below:

Meeting 1 - February 2

An Overview of Regression Analysis (STUD), Chapter 1

Introduction (M), Chapter 1

Meeting 2 - February 9

Ordinary Least Squares (STUD), pp. 34-49

County Fiscal Stress, Wassmer and Anders' Paper on Web

Meeting 3 - February 16

Ordinary Least Squares (STUD), pp. 50-58

Demography (M), Chapter 2

Meeting 4 - February 23

Learning to Use Regression Analysis (STUD), Chapter 3

Meeting 5 - March 1

The Classical Model (STUD), Chapter 4

Housing (M), Chapter 3

Meeting 6 - March 8

Basic Statistics and Hypothesis Testing (STUD), pp. 123-143,

Health (M), Chapter 4

Meeting 7 - March 15

Basic Statistics and Hypothesis Testing (STUD), pp. 144-161,

Education (M), Chapter 5

Meeting 8 - March 22

Specification: Choosing the Independent Variables (STUD), Chapter 6

Crime (M), Chapter 6

Meeting 9 – March 29

Midterm Examination

National Economy (M), Chapter 7

Meeting 10 - April 5

Specification: Choosing a Functional Form (STUD), Chapter 7

Wealth, Income, and Poverty (M), Chapter 8

Meeting 11 - April 12

Multicolinearity (STUD), Chapter 8

Meeting 12 - April 26

Heteroskedasticity (STUD), Chapter 10

Labor Statistics (M), Chapter 9

Meeting 13 - May 3

A Regression User's Handbook (STUD), Chapter 11

Business Statistics, Chapter 10

Meeting 14 - May 10

Dummy Dependent Variable Techniques (STUD), Chapter 13

Government (M), Chapter 11

Meeting 15 - May 17

Simultaneous Equations (STUD), Chapter 14

Alcohol Availability and Crime in California Cities, Riches' Paper on Web

Final Exam Time - May 24

Turn in Paper


In order to receive a grade in this course, each student will be required to complete a short (15-20 double-spaced pages) empirical paper on the topic of his or her choice. This will involve the gathering and analysis of original data. Details on the paper will be given in class. The paper must follow the format prescribed in the handout that I provide. The student papers, listed on the web, are excellent examples to look at.


You will be required each week to complete a one to two-page, double-spaced, typed answer to questions that I will ask that relate to reading assignments out of Studenmond or Maier. This is not required for the first meeting. The answers to these questions will be due on the meeting that they are scheduled to be covered. In addition, a total of 14 homework assignments will be given and collected. These will come out of the questions at the end of Studenmond and Maier chapters, work with the SPSS package, and internet assignments.

The written answers to my questions and homework will be looked over and assigned grades ranging from A+ (4.3) to D (1.0), and F (0.0 - for not completing on time). A separate grade for each will be given and a total average derived. You may drop your two lowest total averages (this also allows for the possibility of missing a class meeting). This grade is weighted as 30 percent of your final course grade.

The midterm test grade accounts for 30 percent of your final course grade. The paper you are required to complete accounts for 30 percent of your final grade. The average of all homework assignments account for 30 percent of your final grade. The remaining 10 percent of your grade is based on classroom participation and the completion of the additional required session.  You must take the midterm exam and complete the paper to pass the class.

Additional Required Session -- Choice of Times:

The Public Policy and Administration Graduate Program, along with the College of Social Science and Interdisciplinary Studies, sponsors a seminar series. Since a goal of this class is for you to learn how to complete a research project, seeing and understanding research that others have done should assist in the learning process. It is suggested, if at all possible, that you attend all seminars. It is required that you attend at least one seminar and by May 24 turn in a two-page, double-spaced, typed description and critique of the seminar you attended. The seminar schedule can be viewed in early February.

Scoring for Midterm:

Percent Correct Letter Grade Number Grade
100-94 A+ 4.3
93-89 A 4.0
88-84 A- 3.7
83-79 B+ 3.3
78-74 B 3.0
73-69 B- 2.7
68-64 C+ 2.3
63-59 C 2.0
58-54 C- 1.7
53-40 D 1.0
<40 F 0.0

Back to top of PPA207 Syllabus

Return to Course Syllabi and Information Page

Return to Home Page