Researching COVID-19: Regression discontinuity designs (online)

Course Code


Organised by

The University of Edinburgh


Professor Alisdair Rutherford, Professor of Social Statistics, The University of Stirling




Online delivery by The University of Edinburgh


View in Google Maps  (EH8 9LN)


Laura Marshall
Working week Monday - Wednesday


The global COVID-19 pandemic has provided an interested living laboratory. COVID-19 has impacted a very wide spectrum of activities in social and economic life. The pandemic had lead many national governments to implement lockdowns and other measures aimed at controlling and containing the spread of the virus. These measures represent an explicit ‘treatment’ or ‘intervention’.

Regression discontinuity design (RDD) is a quasi-experimental pre-test and post-test method, that seeks to elicit causal effects. By examining observations that are lying closely on either side of the threshold it is possible to estimate ‘treatment effects’ in environments where experimentation using randomisation would not be feasible. RDD approaches offer great potential for studying the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic, and related policies and interventions. RDD techniques are widely understood in areas such as econometrics, but have been used less frequently in other areas of social science.

The course will

  • Introduce the concept of discontinuity designs
  • Outline the statistical theories that underpin regression discontinuity designs (RDD)
  • Highlight how RDD can be used to test ideas and theories
  • Showcase some examples of research questions and data that are suited to RDD
  • Comment on the appropriate use of statistical data analysis software for RDD analyses

Participants will

  • Understand the fundamental concepts associated with RDD
  • Be able to interpret the result of RDD analysis
  • Better understand which research questions and data that are suited to RDD
  • Be aware of statistical data analysis software for RDD analyses

Course will be delivered online via zoom and will run from 10:00 - 16:00

Participants should have access to Stata. Participants must have used Stata previously. They should have a strong knowledge of statistical analysis, especially regression models. An awareness of causal methods would be an advantage, but is not essential.


Advanced (specialised prior knowledge)


The fee per teaching day is: • £30 per day for students registered at UK/EU University. • £60 per day for staff at UK/EU academic institutions, UK/EU Research Councils researchers, UK/EU public sector staff and staff at UK/EU registered charity organisations and recognised UK/EU research institutions. • £100 per day for all other participants. In the event of cancellation by the delegate a full refund of the course fee is available up to two weeks prior to the course. NO refunds are available after this date.

Website and registration




Regression Methods, Stata, Causal methods , , , , Regression discontinuity design , , , , COVID-19

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