In this course we will treat Japan's economy as a laboratory that allows us to to put modern economic theory to a rigorous empirical test. By exploiting Japan's unique geography, history and institutions students will learn how to use natural economic experiments -- like Japan's almost complete transition from autarky to free trade at the end of the 19th century -- to test some of the most well-known economic concepts such as the theory of comparative advantage. Students will learn about several influential economic theories and how their implications can be used to construct empirical tests that try to establish the causal relationships predicted by these theories in the specific regional context of Japan.

This course covers the empirical analysis of bilateral flow data (e.g. trade or migration flows) based on the "gravity model" from international economics. The course is targeted towards advanced Master students and PhD students in Economics, who want to extend their empirical "tool box" in preparation of their Master thesis or as a part of their PhD in economics. In class we will cover the theoretical derivation of the gravity model for (international) trade and migration, the theory-consistent empirical implementation of the gravity model, and how the gravity equation can be used to recover structural model parameters from trade and migration data. Once  a basic understanding of the economic theory, the empirical methods, and the available data sources has been established, students will be given the opportunity to apply their newly acquired knowledge when practically working on their own empirical project (based on a recent research article).