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Center of Excellence in Economics and Data Science

Plans for the five-year period 2023 - 2027

The Department of Economics, Management and Quantitative Methods has received new tools to strengthen and enhance the excellence of its research with investments in human capital, infrastructure and highly qualified teaching activities.

The projects submitted by the top 350 Departments of State Universities were evaluated by a seven-member committee that made the final ranking of the 180 Departments of Excellence awarded funding for the period 2023-2027.

The Fund for the Financing of University Departments of Excellence, with an annual budget of 271 million euros, is provided for by Law No. 232 of December 11, 2016, for the "purpose of incentivizing the activity of the Departments of State Universities that are characterized by excellence in the quality of research and scientific, organizational and educational planning, as well as with reference to the research goals of 'Industry 4.0'."

The new excellence project

Veduta del cortile interno

Building on the success of the 2018-22 Department of Excellence Project (Ministry of University and Research's "Departments of Excellence" call), which led to the creation of the Center of Excellence in Economics and Data Science (CEEDS ), the new Project 2023-2027 aims to further develop the skills and activities of the Department of Economics, Management and Quantitative Methods (DEMM) in the broad area of Policy Evaluation.

The pillars of the project

The Department of Excellence (DoE) project at DEMM is organized around three main pillars that reflect various methods and approaches commonly used in counterfactual impact evaluation. 

Reduced Form Methods is the first pillar

DEMM has several scholars who are experts in causal inference and use Reduced Form Methods to evaluate policies in a wide range of fields, including health, labor, education, migration, taxation, and innovation, to name a few. The DoE Project's goal is to gain additional knowledge and skills related to the application of causal inference to Big Data by leveraging the knowledge gathered by CEEDS. 

Experimental Methods are the second pillar 

In this regard, the Project's goal is to strengthen the activities of the experimental economics laboratory, as well as to increase the use of RCTs for policy evaluation. 

Structural Econometric Methods are the third and final pillar

While Reduced Form Methods are generally silent on the mechanisms responsible for a given policy's (in)effectiveness, Structural Methods allow for explicit modeling and testing of specific mechanisms and are essential for policy design. This is an important aspect of our Project, which aims to improve DEMM's capabilities in both Ex-post Policy Evaluation and Ex-ante Policy Design. 

Importantly, the Project aims to improve the integration of Cost-Benefit Analysis into DEMM scholars' evaluation studies.

Le azioni per raggiungere gli obiettivi

Several actions are planned under the Project to achieve these goals.

Recruitment

DEMM seeks scholars with the expertise described above. Scholars at various levels of seniority will be recruited, including one Full Professor and two Senior Assistant Professors (further two will be hired thanks to DEMM's co-funding). More junior personnel will be recruited, including 3 Junior Assistant Professors with 2+2 year contracts (or 6 with a 2-year contract) and Ph.D. students interested in expanding their knowledge of policy evaluation methods.

Advanced Education

The Project includes the organization of summer/spring schools and lecture series by renowned scholars on topics relevant to policy evaluation. Internationalization activities are also planned in the Project, namely the organization of thematic workshops and annual meetings of international economic associations. For example, in 2023 DEMM hosts the European Conference of the Society for Benefit-Cost Analysis, the European tour of the Association of Labor Economics (Labor Market), and the second edition of the Junior Economists Meeting (JEM), an event organized by DEMM postdocs.

Incentives for publishing in top journals

To this end a journal list has been created which entitles researchers to receiving a monetary prize (or research funds). It is critical to create the right incentives in order to attract the best scholars from both Italy and abroad. DEMM attracted scholars from Queen Mary University of London (UK), University of Munich (Germany), WZB Berlin (Germany), University of Southampton (UK), University of New South Wales (Australia), and Emlyon . Business School (France) during the previous edition of the DoE. 

Incentives for technical-administrative staff

A key initiative in achieving DoE goals. Additional actions include financial support for Open Access, proofreading, journal submission, software, hardware, databases and infrastructure, and an expansion of DEMM's third mission activities.