Netherlands, Amsterdam

Crime in Numbers: From Correlation to Causation

when 22 July 2017 - 5 August 2017
language English
duration 2 weeks
credits 3 ECTS
fee EUR 1000

Randomized controlled trials are the gold standard for causal inference. Using an experimental and a control group, double-blind and with a placebo, the effect of an intervention can be neatly determined. But this ideal scenario is not always practicable, or even ethically desirable. What if we want to know how effective sex-offender treatments are? Or whether employment makes people happier? In such cases, special methods have to be used to be able to make causal statements.

This course details five such methods: propensity score matching, instrumental variables, regression discontinuity design, fixed effects methods and trajectory analysis. After a brief refresher on regression models, you analyse a real-life dataset to assess whether various “remedies” (therapy, employment, marriage, punitive sanctions) are effective in reducing criminal recidivism. The techniques are explained in a conceptual manner, and the course provides you with numerous hands-on exercises using SPSS and Stata. You also practise reporting on the findings from such analyses, in scientific article format, as well as in conference-type presentation.

This course is taught by experienced lecturers from the Netherlands Institute for the Study of Crime and Law Enforcement (NSCR) and VU Amsterdam.

Course leader

Dr Steve van de Weijer

Target group

Students of Criminology, Sociology, Psychology, Education, Political Science, Policing and Conflict Studies.

Course aim

You can choose an appropriate technique for causal analysis of observational data.
You can use SPSS and Stata to analyse that data.
You can determine the effect of an intervention.
You can summarize the findings for an academic journal.
You can present research findings.

Credits info

Contact hours: 45

Fee info

EUR 1000: The tuition fee includes an airport pick-up service, welcome goodiebag, orientation programme, on-site support, 24/7 emergency assistance, and a transcript of records after completion of the course.

An early bird discount of €150 is available for students who apply before 15 March, and students from VU Amsterdam as well as from exchange partner universities will receive a €250 discount. You apply for the discount simply by indicating that you are currently a student at VU Amsterdam or at a partner university in the online application.

All courses include excursions. We will also organize trips and excursions as part of our social programme, which is a great way to get to know your fellow students and learn more about Amsterdam and the Netherlands. The social programme is not included in the tuition fee.

Furnished accommodation is available. Various housing options will be offered.


The Amsterdam Summer School offers ten scholarships that cover the full tuition fee of one course. Information about how to apply for the scholarship will be posted on the website.

Register for this course
on course website