Yesterday I gave a lecture on an econometric technique known as instrumental variables regression. I drew upon Professor Scott Cunningham's excellent new book, Causal Inference: The Mixtape.
Scott has generously made this book available as a free PDF download. He has a refreshing and unique perspective on modern econometric methods as well as some inspiring personal stories and maybe best of all, poetry of hip hop lyrics. Matching song lyrics to econometric concepts is fun and pedagogically effective. In learning foreign languages, I often found song lyrics easier to remember, and more enjoyable to read than other mediums, and I think the same could be true for many econometrics students.
At the moment I am working on a new econometric study of commuting behavior using American Community Survey microdata. The instrument is an indicator variable denoting that the children in a household have the same gender. (See Grazi et al. for an example of the use of this instrument to study travel behavior.) This made me think of the following lines from "Get By":
Mi abuela raised three daughters all by herself, with no help.I think about her struggle and I find the strength in myself.- Talib Kweli
This lyric is a powerful reminder that the people in our data sets have real lives and aren't "just statistics". But at the same time, in the context of instrumental variables regression, the fact that his abuela's children were all female may predict choices she made. For example, in my preliminary results I am finding a small but statistically significant effect where households with different gender siblings have more bedrooms on average than observationally identical households with same gender siblings.