Comparative Political Economy - An Integrated, Hands-on Introduction Using R


Timo Seidl


July 2, 2023

Course Description

This course offers an integrated and hands-on introduction to comparative political economy (CPE) and R - no prior knowledge of either is required. CPE is a subfield of political science concerned with the comparative study of how (democratic) politics shapes, constrains, and supports the (capitalist) economy. R is a free and open-source programming language for statistical computing and graphics. The point behind teaching both in one course is to allow students to get the best of both worlds. On the one hand, they will get a good sense for how to actually do comparative political research: how to get data, how to bring them in the right shape, how to visualize them, and how to analyze them in basic ways. On the other hand, students will get a practical but also substantively interesting introduction to R. After basic introductions to both CPE and R, we will have 4 substantive blocks where we discuss CPE papers in one session and do related analyses or play around with similar data in the other. The goal is not full replication, but learning, in principle, how to get CPE data, transform them, and use them to address substantively important questions such as: Why does it cost a fortune to attend university in some (European) countries while it’s essentially free in others? Why are some (European) states doing a lot to combat climate change while others don’t? Why is home ownership more prevalent in some (European) societies and renting in others? What is the relationship between media ownership and media bias in various (European) countries?