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 Other Sites Code


Economic Education, Development Economics, Labor Economics, Health Economics


"Explaining Heterogeneity in Student Diversity across Economics Departments" (with Anna McDougall and George Orlov) Journal of Economic Education, forthcoming. Online Appendix

"The Economic Statistics Skills Assessment (ESSA)" (with George Orlov) International Review of Economic Education, 2023.

" Automated Assessment of Economics Skills" (with Steven Zhu and George Orlov) Eastern Economic Journal, 2023.

"Racial and Gender Achievement Gaps in an Economics Classroom" (with Daria Bottan, George Orlov, and Anna McDougall) International Review of Economic Education, 2022.

"Learning during the COVID-19 pandemic: It is not who you teach, but how you teach" (with George Orlov, James Berry, Austin Boyle, Thomas DiCiccio, Tyler Ransom, Alex Rees-Jones, and Jörg Stoye) Economics Letters, 2021.

"Identifying Students at Risk Using a New Math Skills Assessment" (with George Orlov, Irene R. Foster, Daria Bottan, and Stephanie R. Thomas) American Economic Review, Papers & Proceedings, 2021.

"Using Invention Activities to Teach Econometrics" (with George Orlov), Journal of Economics Teaching, 2021.

"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

"Who Cares about Economics? Determinants and Consequences of Intrinsic Motivation" (with Richard Amaro, Sophia Giarrusso, and George Orlov)

"Total Recall? Short- and Long-term Retention of Statistics and Econometrics Skills" (with George Orlov)

"The Effects of Peers on Effort and Achievement: Evidence from Random Group Assignments in Multiple Classrooms" (with George Orlov)

"As Time Goes By: The Effect of Active Learning Pedagogy on Long-term Retention of Economics Skills" (with George Orlov)

"Improving Math Skills Using Concurrent Support Courses for Introductory Microeconomics" (with George Orlov and Anna McDougall)

"Student Stress and Its Impact on Learning During the COVID-19 Pandemic" (with George Orlov and Anna McDougall)

"Who Goes to Office Hours?" (with Daria Bottan, Anna McDougall, and Jenny Wissink)

Classes (Cornell)

Intermediate Microeconomic Theory (ECON 3030)

Latest Syllabus: Fall 2022
Taught: Spring 2017, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Fall 2020, Spring 2022, Fall 2022

Applied Econometrics (ECON 3120)

Latest Syllabus: Spring 2023
Taught: Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Spring 2020, Spring 2021, Spring 2022

Introduction to Probability and Statistics (ECON 3130)

Latest Syllabus: Fall 2022
Taught: Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2019, Fall 2020, Fall 2021, Fall 2022

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

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.

The Economic Education Network for Experiments (EENE) is a new collaboration of instructors around the world that cooperate to run synchronized studies in their classrooms. We will tackle important research questions, come to agreement about study protocols, implement treatments, collect comparable data, and pool our samples. These pooled samples will be big enough to give us precise estimates, and because we have a wide range of courses, institutions, and students, we will be able to generalize our results. In turn, these results will help us all improve our teaching, increase student learning, address equity issues in our classrooms, and potentially increase diversity in our profession.

Standard assessments can give instructors reliable objective measures of student skills at the beginning and end of a term. hosts nine standard assessments developed at Cornell for commonly taught economics courses and allows instructors worldwide to set up any of these assessments for their students. Instructors get a link to their chosen assessment that can be shared with students, and students take the timed assessment when they follow the link. At the end of the test-taking period, instructors receive a report that summarizes performance in aggregate and by learning goal.

The Cornell Economic Education Research Group

Born of Cornell's Active Learning Initiative (ALI) in 2017, the Economic Education Research Group at Cornell focuses on developing standard assessments of undergraduate learning and analyzing the copious data generated by the ALI to learn how students learn economics and how we can best teach the subject. We also work closely with education researchers in other disciplines to study big issues like gender gaps in performance and the determinants of long-term retention of knowledge.

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.