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Can anyone recommend some free software for students studying economics for use in senior projects, theses, or dissertations?

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    $\begingroup$ Could you specify what you mean by "economics software"? Do you mean software for econometric analysis, symbolic mathematics, etc.? In other words, what exactly do you need the software to do? $\endgroup$ – Ubiquitous Dec 3 '14 at 14:28
  • $\begingroup$ Also, why is it important that the software be for students, and not for economists more generally? $\endgroup$ – Ubiquitous Dec 3 '14 at 14:28
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    $\begingroup$ The question is too broad and off-topic for most SE sites. Please note there is a Software Recommendations SE. Please also note that of late, the R statistical system is finding wide use, and is free. $\endgroup$ – Deer Hunter Dec 3 '14 at 14:50
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    $\begingroup$ code:julia, R, octave pictures: geogebra $\endgroup$ – Pburg Dec 3 '14 at 15:54
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    $\begingroup$ One thing to keep in mind is that your senior project/thesis will be hard enough as it is--trying to also teach yourself a new programming language at the same time will probably be overly burdensome. Your best bet is probably just to ask your thesis advisor what s/he recommends. $\endgroup$ – Steve S Dec 5 '14 at 23:18
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I never understood why discussion about specialized software should be off-topic in the specialty's website. And of course I don't agree. So:

Before diving into R, which indeed appears to be the dominant (and rich) freeware for statistical computing, one can try Gretl. It is an Econometrics freeware, with a lot of functionality, a very good Random Number Generator, and has both menu-driven implementation but also code-writing by the user. It is easier for beginners - but it is serious stuff. The wikipedia page for Gretl lists some reviews about Gretl.

The other kind of "economics" (not mathematics) software apart from econometrics packages would be specialized simulation software, for say Dynamic Stochastic General Equilibrium Models, or micro-applications. For DSGE, one such is Dynare. A lot of DSGE-code for various other software can be found at International Network for DSGE Modeling, Monetary and Fiscal Policy.

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    $\begingroup$ Dynare, among others. $\endgroup$ – Deer Hunter Dec 3 '14 at 21:56
  • $\begingroup$ @DeerHunter Thanks, I added it in the body with link. $\endgroup$ – Alecos Papadopoulos Dec 3 '14 at 22:10
  • $\begingroup$ we should make this post meta and add links to IDEAS as well. $\endgroup$ – Deer Hunter Dec 3 '14 at 22:13
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    $\begingroup$ I agree that discussions about software are on topic. But for a list of responses to be useful I think there is need for more focus (e.g.: "What are good open source software tools for microeconometrics?") $\endgroup$ – Ubiquitous Dec 4 '14 at 11:18
  • $\begingroup$ Dynare.runs on top of Matlab which is commercial software. It also runs, with a degraded performance, on Octave, an open source alternative to Matlab. $\endgroup$ – BKay Mar 28 '17 at 14:16
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@Pburg mentions Geogebra which is a great drawing tool with export in LaTex.

Regarding graphs in LaTex, an alternative which I prefer to Geogebra is Latexdraw.

If you want to use LaTex for your thesis, a good editor might also help. I personally use Texstudio.

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Python is also something you could look at for econometric and/or data analysis in addition to R and Gretl mentioned above. Alternatively you could check out the Ox programming language. The Ox console is free to download for academic use. The Ox programming language is the basis for OxMetrics and it is relatively easy to use and extremely fast.

For optimization etc. you can get Octave which is a free alternative to MATLAB. I haven't tried Octave so I cannot comment on its qualities but its free so it might be worth checking out. You can also use Octave to simulate economic models in.

For simulation of economic models I would recommend you to check out Dynare which is a module for simulating and estimating DSGE and OLG models. Note that in order to use Dynare you'll need to have MATLAB or Octave installed on you computer (Octave is free!). I have used Dynare with MATLAB and it is really easy and intuitive to use.

For typesetting you should check out LaTex or the "easier-to-start-to-use" alternative Lyx. In case you want a "Word" type enviroment instead you should check out Open Office. Open Office also has a spreadsheet á la Excel.

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  • $\begingroup$ I just have to add - my university uses OX and it is has a very steep learning curve and a small audience. It has some basic point and click features that are okay, but if you want to do anything other than point and click it is hard. $\endgroup$ – Thorst Dec 4 '14 at 10:32
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If you feel LaTex is too much you can download a free math extension for word that's easy to use. http://www.eduap.com/wordmat/

(I would recommend LaTex, but starting using LaTex, R and writing a thesis can be a bit much at the same time)

Also, atop of R - get R-Studio

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    $\begingroup$ Luckily for me, I'm double-majoring with Math as my second major, so LaTeX is no problem! $\endgroup$ – abroad-and-away Jan 18 '15 at 18:50
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There's a difference between "free software" and "free software for students studying economics". For example, when I was studying economics at University, the University provided (free) access to software such as Maple, MATLAB, Datastream, and Stata, to mention just a few.

These software packages are not free, but to economics students at many Universities, there is free access to all of this software making it free, effectively (to the economics student).

As a result, I'd recommend that economics students consult with their instructors to find out what software is being made available to them. The University doesn't pay the licence fees just for kicks.

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