Competence Field "Empirical Economic Research"
Within the economic sciences, empirical economic research is continuously gaining in importance. Current debates on the causes and consequences of social and economic developments as well as on the focus of economic policy are increasingly based on the results of empirical research. In the competence field Empirical Economic Research (EWF), approximately one hundred researchers from the three UA Ruhr universities and the RWI – Leibniz Institute for Economic Research, as well as roughly the same number of PhD students, are currently exploring issues relevant to empirical economic research. The strategic goal of this cooperation is to establish the EMF competence field as an internationally visible center for empirical economic research by bundling excellent research.
The EMF competence field incorporates the diverse competencies existing at the partner institutions in the fields of applied empirical economic research, method development and scientific policy advice into a joint framework, thus facilitating their integration and benefiting from their complementarities across all three universities. Researchers from the three economics faculties at the UAR, the only statistics faculty in Germany at the TU Dortmund University, and the RWI – Leibniz Institute for Economic Research in Essen work closely together on this project. Moreover, the Research Data Center Ruhr at RWI provides a large number of data sets for empirical research.
All researchers involved in the competence field apply econometric methods in the empirical analysis of economic relationships and develop them further in a problem-specific manner. The fields of application cover a broad spectrum of economic sciences. The resulting diversity of applications and methods leads to high synergies within the competence field. Research areas within the competence field include labor, health, energy and climate as well as investments, to name but a few.
Perspectives in Empirical Economic Research
The collective of researchers clustered here applies econometric methods from three overarching perspectives. The first perspective is the microeconomic view (“micro”). By analyzing legal and natural persons, it captures the behavior of individuals or businesses and their interaction in households or industries, typically in a bottom-up approach. If economic actors are sufficiently aggregated, the macroeconomic perspective (“macro”) is taken, which deals with the question of the effects of these aggregates on each other and with each other (top-down).
The two disciplines of microeconomics and macroeconomics together represent the classical field of economics as the science that deals with human behavior in terms of alternative uses in the face of limited resources. Numerous issues in both fields have spatial aspects, spanning the entire spectrum from local to global spaces, and represent an independent level of analysis (“regio”) due to their great importance for economic activity, political processes and social identity.
All three perspectives have in common the use of data to answer their respective research questions. Another core activity is therefore the collecting and processing of data sets and sharing them with the scientific community at the Research Data Center Ruhr at RWI. Quantitative analysis decisions require comprehensive knowledge of statistical methods as well as their methodological adaptation or optimization on a case-by-case basis. Working methodically, researchers therefore complete the activities of the competence field in a fourth methodological perspective. This perspective aims at adapting and optimizing the statistical procedures necessary for these analyses, based on the specific issues of economics and the social sciences and the resulting demands on the informative value of the methodological approaches.
Overview of joint projects
In the EWF competence field, the relevant activities are consolidated under a joint umbrella, thus boosting their international visibility. The existing activities are coordinated and additional collaborations are generated. Accordingly, the competence field also serves as a nucleus for further joint projects. Current joint projects are:
- Ruhr Graduate School in Economics
- Ruhr Economic Paper
- SFB 823 “Statistical Modelling of Nonlinear Dynamic Processes”
- GRK 2484 “Regional Disparities and Economic Policy”
- UA Ruhr Master’s degree Econometrics
- Research Data Center Ruhr
- UA Ruhr professorship for “Providing Digital Data in Social Sciences and Economic Research” (Prof. Thomas K. Bauer)