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Economics 257D1

This course in statistics is intended for all Honours students in Economics. The aim is to get students to understand what the discipline of statistics is, why it is important, and how to use it, especially with economic data. The specialised application of statistics to economics is called econometrics, and is the topic of later courses in the Honours program, although majors and even minors students often take these courses.

The mathematical requirements for the course are not very heavy, but students should have reasonable knowledge of, and ability to work with, both the differential and the integral calculus. Some acquaintance with linear algebra, more particularly of matrix algebra, is also desirable.

Course Outline:

The course outline is found by following this link for the PDF version. It is alternatively available from this link in HTML. Although the outline has official status regarding administrative matters, this website is the most important resource. It will be regularly updated, with information, assignments and so forth.


Click here to access the page from which you can get all your marks, for assigments, the midterm exam, the Christmas exam, and your percentage mark for the entire term.

This is just a reminder that this webpage covers the first term only of Economics 257. The evaluation for the complete full-year course will not be complete until after the exam session at the end of the winter term.

The midterm exam will take place on Friday October 14, in class. It will cover the material in the first five chapters of Professor Galbraith's textbook. For this exam, and also for the Christmas exam, each student is allowed one cheat sheet, which may be double-sided. According to the McGill regulations, only calculators that are not programmable and cannot store text are allowed. If any students absolutely cannot attend class for the exam, they should contact Calvin Trottier-Chi, who is trying to organise an alternative time and place.

By following this link, you will find a few exercises that you can try in preparation for the midterm.

This link will take you to a compilation of some old December exams set by Professor Galbraith. The exam I set will necessarily be a bit different, and more like the midterm, but should cover the same or similar material.

Our TA for this term is Yang Li. Her office hours are 14.00-15.30 on Tuesdays in Leacock 112-D.

The times and places that have been found for our TA to hold tutorials/conferences are, quite differently from what was first proposed and announced in class, Mondays, 15.35-16.55, in Leacock 424, and Tuesdays, 10.05-11.25, also in Leacock 424. The first meeting is planned for Tuesday September 20.

My own office hours, in Leacock 507, are on Mondays, 18.00-19.30.


There is no single textbook required for the course. All the available ones seem to have some defect or another, at least, so I am told. However, there are two front-runners that should be valuable:

In addition, Professor Galbraith, who has often taught this course, has prepared a set of chapters, intended for a book some day, but at present to be used only by McGill students. Please respect his wish in this regard.

Here you will find the appendix to Chapter 7 of the textbook, with the proofs of the theorems, including the Chebychev inequality.

The complete Chapter 10 of the textbook is found at this link.

I found this free ebook written by a Brazilian friend, on the web:


Eric Blachut, from the Economics Students Association, who spoke to us in class a few days ago, will give his promised tutorial on the R software package on Tuesday September 27, 18.00-19.30 in Arts 145. All are welcome.

I have no specific instructions or recommendations about appropriate software, for assignments or other uses. If you have no preferred software of your own, or if you are having trouble with available software for running regressions, simulations, etc., you might like to try my own software, Ects. The documentation is available, not all but most of it in English, all of it in French. For ease, you can find the first volume here (in English), and the second volume here.

The paper reached by following this link is now a bit old (2009), but it contains a pretty comprehensive list of software available for econometrics and statistics.


When an assignment is due on a certain date, that means that, if it is emailed to the TA before midnight of that day, it is considered to be on time.

The first assignment, dated September 21, can be found by following this link. It is due on Friday September 30.

The second assignment, dated October 19, is here. It is due on Friday October 28.

The third assignment, dated November 9, is here. It is due on Friday November 18.

Solutions to exams and assignments:

The solutions provided here are not necessarily the only correct ones. Actual numerical answers should not differ from those here. If your answers in other ways are very different, and you remain convinced that you are right, then you may have to persuade the TA.

For the first assignment, the suggested solutions can be found here.

If you follow this link you will find my suggested solutions for the questions on the midterm.

For the second assignment, the suggested solutions can be found here.

In order to encourage the use of the Linux operating system, here is a link to an article by James MacKinnon, in which he gives valuable information about what software is appropriate for the various tasks econometricians wish to undertake.

To send me email, click here or write directly to Russell.Davidson@mcgill.ca.

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URL: http://russell-davidson.arts.mcgill.ca/e468