Douglas McKee

Senior Lecturer

Active Learning Initiative Project Lead

Department of Economics

Uris Hall

Cornell University

Ithaca, NY, 14853-7601

tel: 310-266-2438


Twitter: @TeachBetterCo

Curriculum Vitae

Research Teaching Code Other Sites


Development Economics, Labor Economics, Health Economics, Economic Education


"Teaching Economic Evaluation with Population Health Cases." (with Green, Jeremy C., Corneliu Bolbocian, Kara Busken, Rocco Gonzalez, and Wendy Yi Xu) Journal of Health Administration Education, 2017.

"Obesity is in the Eye of the Beholder: BMI and Socioeconomic Outcomes across Cohorts." (with Vida Maralani) Sociological Science, 2017.

"Efficacy of individualized diets in patients with irritable bowel syndrome: a randomized controlled trial." (with Ali, Ather, Theresa R. Weiss, Alisa Scherban, Sumiya Khan, Maxine R. Fields, Damian Apollo, and Wajahat Z. Mehal) BMJ Open Gastroenterology, 2017.

"Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction for Adolescents with Functional Somatic Syndromes: A Pilot Cohort Study." (with Ather Ali, Theresa R. Weiss, Anne Dutton, Kim D. Jones, Susmita Kshikar-Zuck, Wendy K. Silverman, and Eugene D. Shapiro. Journal of Pediatrics, 2016. (paper)

"Association between payments from manufacturers of pharmaceuticals to physicians and regional prescribing: cross sectional ecological study" (with William Fleischman, Shantanu Agrawal, Marissa King, Arjun Venkatesh, Harlan Krumholz, Douglas Brown, and Joseph Ross) The British Medical Journal, 2016. (paper)

"An Empirical Evaluation Of Devolving Administrative Control To Costa Rican Hospital And Clinic Directors" (with Theodore Lee) International Journal of Health Services, 2015. (abstract, paper)

"Externalities of Prevention of Mother-to-Child HIV Transmission Programs: A Systematic Review" (with Sarah Nutman and Kaveh Khoshnood) AIDS and Behavior, 2013. (abstract, paper)

"The Longer-term Effects of Human Capital Enrichment Programs on Poverty and Inequality: Oportunidades in Mexico" (with Petra Todd) Estudios de Economía, 2011. (abstract, paper)

"Health Consequences of Forest Fires in Indonesia" (with Elizabeth Frankenberg and Duncan Thomas), Demography, 2005. (abstract, paper)

Work in Progress

"The Evolution of Latent Health over the Life Course" (with Fabian Lange) (Revise and Resubmit) (abstract)

In this project, we propose a new method to estimate rich dynamic models of health that exploits longitudinal observations of multiple health measures. We combine standard tools from factor analysis with the method of simulated moments. Our method works with continuous as well as discrete measures and corrects for mortality selection. We demonstrate the method by estimating health processes for men and women using data from the Health and Retirement Study.

"Do Good Kids Finish First? Characterizing the Bequest Motive in Mexico" (with Beth Soldo) (abstract, paper)

This paper tests the major bequest motive theories using longitudinal data (the Mexican Health and Aging Study) that include a population-representative sample of bequests and bequest plans in Mexico. Results show that children who provide support to parents and have more frequent contact with them were significantly more likely to receive higher future bequests than their siblings.

"The Impact of Teacher Training and Information Technology on Student Outcomes: Evidence from the Intel Teach for the Future Program in Costa Rica" (with Sarah Mayer) (abstract)

Intel Teach for the Future is an international program that trains teachers how to incorporate information and communications technology into their classrooms. In Costa Rica, the program has reached 30% of public elementary and high school teachers over the last ten years. We match data on program roll out over time across the country to nationally representative household survey data and use both temporal and spatial variation to estimate causal effects of the program on student retention, college-going, employment, and wages.

"The Intergenerational Transmission of Smoking and Schooling" (with Vida Maralani) (abstract)

Across birth cohorts of Americans, education and smoking status in families of origin have become more aligned. We use a two-sex demographic projection model, which accounts for the statuses of both men and women, combined with simulations to examine how changes in assortative mating affect the distribution of smoking and education in future generations.

Classes (Cornell)

Intermediate Microeconomic Theory (ECON 3030)

Latest Syllabus: Spring 2017

Applied Econometrics (ECON 3120)

Latest Syllabus: Fall 2016
Course Evaluations: Fall 2016

Introduction to Probability and Statistics (ECON 3130)

Latest Syllabus: Fall 2016
Course Evaluations: Fall 2016

Classes (Yale)

Econometrics and Data Analysis I (ECON 131)

Latest Syllabus: Fall 2015
Large Lecture Course Evaluations: Fall 2015, Fall 2014
Small Online Course Evaluations: Summer 2015b, 2015a, 2014b, 2014a, 2013b
Small Lecture Course Evaluations: Summer 2013a, 2012a

Economics of Human Capital in Latin America (ECON 462)

Latest Syllabus: Spring 2016
Course Evaluations: 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010

Economics of Aging (ECON 466)

Latest Syllabus: Fall 2013
Course Evaluations: 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009

Core Biostatistics (RWJ Clinical Scholars Program)

Latest Syllabus: Summer 2015
Taught: Summer 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015

Linear and Logistic Regression (RWJ Clinical Scholars Program)

Latest Syllabus: Fall 2015
Taught: Fall 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015

Advanced Methods in Biostatistics (RWJ Clinical Scholars Program)

Latest Syllabus: Spring 2016
Taught: Spring 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016

Public Economics (ECON 275)

Latest Syllabus: Summer 2012
Course Evaluations: 2012

Microeconomics for Health Care Professionals (HPA 586)

Latest Syllabus: Fall 2011
Course Evaluations: 2011, 2010

Methods in Health Services Research (HPA 583)

Latest Syllabus: Spring 2012
Course Evaluations: 2012, 2011

About Course Evaluations

Course evaluations are imperfect measures of course quality. Students often don't realize the value of a class until years later. Similarly, students can be beguiled by an entertaining or easy professor. But I do believe students are pretty good at distinguishing bad classes from good classes. For example, the second time I taught microeconomics I did a better job than the first time and the evaluations reflect that. The bottom line is that I don't have any better measures of course quality, so I've posted all of my evaluations here.

Teach Better

I share my thoughts on teaching and the education system in general at Teach Better. I like to try new things in the classroom, and the bulk my writing on Teach Better reports on the success or failure of these experiments. During 2014 there were many of these experiments as I taught classes online during the summer and my first big lecture in the fall. I also have the occasional big idea and link to interesting articles elsewhere.


Recently I've been recording short videos on statistical methods for my advanced seminar students to help them read primary research articles. These are available on my YouTube channel.

C Programming

I spend a fair amount of my time writing code to either set up data, solve models, or estimate models. I use Stata when I can, but I tend to write programs in C when Stata can't do the job. There are lots of resources out there for learning Stata (e.g., idre at UCLA), but it's much harder for economists to get up to speed programming in C. I've written down a few C programming tips that might help.


When it comes to writing up my analyses, I use LaTeX. It's a wonderful and efficient tool for preparing documents with lots of math and it's straight-forward to automate the construction and inclusion of tables, figures, and bibliographies. I've also found that as I push LaTeX harder and harder, it becomes more and more like programming. Even in its simplest incarnation, you still have to compile your document and worry about syntax errors! As is the case for Stata, there are lots of resources on the web for learning LaTeX. I've put together a few of my favorite LaTeX links to help people get the most out of this powerful document markup language.

My Own Code

In the course of my research, I sometimes write code that other people might find useful.

nptools 1.01 (7/7/2008, download, README.txt)

nptools is a C library and a set of command-line programs that compute multivariate and univariate nonparametric densities and do various things with them. One of the most interesting things is computation of counterfactual densities of the sort reported in McKee and Todd (2011) and in fact, this software was originally written for that paper.

siman_mp (9/9/2007, download, README.txt)

This code parallelizes the GNU Scientific Library implementation of the simulated annealling optimization algorithm. Simulated annealing is a global optimization algorithm that works well when the objective function is poorly behaved and may have multiple local minima. It's not the fastest algorithm in the world, but this code lets you exploit a cluster of computers to speed up the annealing process. Using this C code as a starting point, you should be able to plug in your own objective function and go. rw

summout (6/22/2008, .tar.gz, .zip)

summout is a collection of four new Stata commands that are used to generate tables of summary statistics. summ2 acts just like summarize, but it allows the use of summstore to save means, medians, and standard deviations of variables in a given sample. summout combines saved results to produce tables in Latex, tab-separated value, and fixed (human-readable) format. misumm does exactly the same thing as summ2, except it works with multiply imputed data sets created with Patrick Royston's ice command. All four commands come with Stata help files. This package was inspired by Ben Jann's outstanding estout package.

Teach Better

I share my thoughts on teaching and the education system in general at Teach Better. I like to try new things in the classroom, and the bulk my writing on Teach Better reports on the success or failure of these experiments. During 2014 there were many of these experiments as I taught classes online during the summer and my first big lecture in the fall. I also have the occasional big idea and link to interesting articles elsewhere.

The Teach Better Podcast

The Teach Better Podcast is a series of conversations with teachers about teaching. My cohost Edward O'Neill and I talk mostly with faculty in higher education, but will occasionally talk with other teachers too.

My YouTube Channel

I've recently been recording short videos on econometric methods for my classes and sharing them on YouTube. I also post the occasional longer lecture such as one on evaluating social policy in Latin America that I did for the Yale Model UN Conference.

High Variance

During the day, I spend my time teaching and doing research on economics and statistics at Yale, and most evenings and weekends, I'm playing with and taking care of my two wonderful girls. When inspiration strikes and deadlines permit, I write at High Variance. The topics are eclectic, but most articles seem to fall into a small number of categories: kids, music, tech, and economics.