I would like this module to be an opportunity for you to strengthen your writing skills and
critical thinking. For this, the assignment consists in writing either a “Vox EU column” or
“referee report”. Please, chose only one of these two options.
You may work on this assignment in teams up to 5. If you work in teams, each of you have to
submit an identical document and put the other student IDs on top of the first page clearly
visible in each of the documents.
Notice that the PDFs of some of the studies listed below may be updated before the due date
(if the paper is not yet published in a journal) so please download it only right before you start
working on it.
All submissions must be presented in typescript (MS Word Format or PDF, 12pt, 1.5 line
spacing). The deadline for submitting the essay is May 6, 2022.
Note that late submissions will not be accepted unless full details of extenuating
circumstances are provided. If you have any query about extenuation, please contact the
See Faser for further details on how to submit your essay.
1. Write a Vox EU column
The website Vox https://voxeu.org/ (the policy portal of the Centre for Economic Policy
Research) provides excellent examples of columns with research-based policy analysis and
commentary. Many leading and upcoming economists disseminate their work over this
website to a wider audience. Write a Vox column about one of following studies:
• DeFilippis, E., Impink, S.M., Singell, M., Polzer, J.T. and Sadun, R., 2020. Collaborating
during coronavirus: The impact of COVID-19 on the nature of work (No. w27612).
National Bureau of Economic Research. Available here.
• Freedman, M., 2017. Persistence in Industrial Policy Impacts: Evidence from
Depression-Era Mississippi. Journal of Urban Economics. Available here.
• Gathmann, C., Helm, I. and Schönberg, U., 2020. Spillover effects of mass
layoffs. Journal of the European Economic Association, 18(1), pp.427-468. Available
a. The Vox column should contain approximately 1500 words (excluding, references,
footnotes, or tables).
b. Start by mentioning a current policy debate or concern.
c. The column should be written in a non-technical style. It should not be a newspaper
opinion piece, but it should be more accessible than a journal article.
d. Do not report regression tables or equations in the text; just give the results in words.
e. Although your column has to be based on one study, you should make clear references
to the broad policy debate on the issue discussed.
f. Graphs are welcome.
g. Put the references in as you do in academic papers, not as in blogs. Vox is not a blog.
Many briefings or commentaries at https://voxeu.org/ are fun to read and can certainly give
you some inspiration for your own column. You can find some examples here, here, and here.
2. Referee report
Write a referee report for one of the following papers:
• Bartik, A.W. and Rinz, K., 2018. Moving costs and worker adjustment to changes in
labor demand: Evidence from longitudinal census data. Manuscript, University of
Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Available here.
• De la Croix, D., Docquier, F., Fabre, A. and Stelter, R., 2020. The Academic Market and
the Rise of Universities in Medieval and Early Modern Europe (1000-1800). Available
• Leonardi, M. and Moretti, E., 2022. The Agglomeration of Urban Amenities: Evidence
from Milan Restaurants (No. w29663). National Bureau of Economic Research.
a. The referee report should contain approximately 1500 words (excluding, references,
footnotes, or tables).
b. Describe briefly what the paper does.
c. Discuss whether and why the paper is important or interesting compared to the
d. Try to describe potential problems in the paper.
e. Try to make suggestions on how to improve the paper.
f. You should also indicate if equations and graphs/tables are not clear, or if you find
sections that are unclear, unconvincing, incomplete.
You can find additional guides on how to write a referee report in Moodle. Unlike what it is
suggested in those documents, do not include your recommendation to the editor. This is
what you do in a real-life referee report, but you are not requested to do this here, though
you can have a final paragraph with your concluding remarks.