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Teaching economics using international macro databanks

Author: Marie Stack
Institution: Loughborough University
Type of case study: Training

About the research



As a Senior Lecturer in Economics at Nottingham Trent University (NTU), Marie Stack teaches on a range of undergraduate modules, including Economics Theory, Public Issues, and International Trade. Her current research interests include; the determinants of trade, the trade effect of Regional Trade Agreements and foreign direct investment in Central and Eastern Europe (see research publications). In this case study, she describes how she uses international macrodata available at the UK Data Service in her taught courses.


Background and learning outcomes

“As part of my teaching responsibilities within the Division of Economics at NTU, I have been involved in the design of assessments at both undergraduate level (levels 1 and 2) and post-graduate level (MSc). The latter is linked to my own research interests on modelling international flows between countries. To endow students with responsibility and encourage independent learning, each assessment is designed to include the following broad learning outcomes:

  • explain the main economic theories as they relate to the areas of macroeconomics and international economics
  • identify reputable sources of databases to undertake international comparisons of relevant data
  • understand real world policy problems and issues by relating data trends to economic theory”

The Assessments

Assessment: Undergraduate coursework – Level 1 (economics, applied macroeconomics)

Given the statement “Progressive tax rates are common in the advanced countries whereas flat taxes are prevalent in eastern Europe”, students are asked to provide an overview of the level and composition of tax revenues for the two groups of countries and outline the main advantages and disadvantages of each taxation system – using the World Banks Dataset user guide. The assessment tasks are as follows:

  • identify and explain relevant economic theory
  • access, download and present tax data for six countries (three countries from each country grouping), describing any trends in the process
  • understand policy issues as they relate to two different tax regimes (i.e. a progressive tax system in Western countries and a flat tax system in the Central and Eastern European countries).

Assessment: Undergraduate coursework – Level 2 (economics, public issues)

Using three datasets – the OECD’s Social Expenditure Data, the World Bank’s World Development Indicators and Eurostat’s Population and Social Conditions data, students are asked to provide an overview of the composition of government expenditures in the United Kingdom and analyse one public sector area with respect to efficiency and equity considerations. The assessment tasks are as follows:

  • undertake independent reading in the topic area
  • access, download and present government expenditure data (an international context is optional), describing any trends in the process
  • understand policy issues as they relate to equity and efficiency considerations

Assessment: Postgraduate coursework – MSc (economics, international finance and investment)

Using the OECD’s International Direct Investment Statistics, the IMF’s International Financial Statistics and the World Bank’s World Development Indicators students are asked to create a panel data set of bilateral FDI outflows or bilateral outward FDI stocks between eight high-income countries and eight developing countries (from their chosen regional group of countries), estimate the effects on FDI of the real exchange rate (RER) vis-à-vis the US dollar for both sets of countries. The assessment tasks are as follows:

  • critically organise and evaluate the existing literature
  • conduct applied research using appropriate measures and sources of international data
  • apply advanced econometric research methods
  • interpret and analyse the findings.

Further information