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Regular version of the site

Economic Development

Academic Year
Instruction in English
ECTS credits
Delivered at:
Department of Demography (Institute of Demography)
Course type:
Elective course
1 year, 3 module


Course Syllabus


The course introduces basic concepts and approaches to global economic development. We consider such possible explanations of striking differences between countries in terms of income and development as geography, human capital, institutions, and culture. A group discussion will be held to analyze comprative importance of each of these factors in global development. We will discuss complex development problems like the resource curse problem and the international aid debate. Studens will also be required to submit their essays on timely development issues. Finally, the aforementioned concepts would be applied to examine possible reasons of development success and failures. The course is built on rigorous econometric evidence and also gives basic understanding of topics like causal inference and program evaluation.
Learning Objectives

Learning Objectives

  • To overview basic theories on origins of global economic disparities
  • To consider the roles geography, human capital, institutions, and culture play in creating cross-country differences in economic development
  • To examine origins and potential solutions of development problems like management of natural resource revenues and distribution of international aid
  • To offer explanations for individual country cases of development successes and failures
Expected Learning Outcomes

Expected Learning Outcomes

  • To name basic theories and conceptual frameworks used to analyze global development
  • To analyze comparative roles of geography, human capital, institutions, and culture in global development
  • To apply the concepts from the course to development problems like management of natural resource revenues and distribution of international aid
  • To interpret individual country cases of successful and unsuccessful development using concepts from the course
  • To suggest novel development strategies and solutions for development problems facing the global community basing on concepts from the course.
Course Contents

Course Contents

  • Global Inequality. Basic Development Theories
    This topic discusses the eviolution of global inequality during recent decades, introduces basic concepts and theories for the course, with the focus on modernization theory and the neoinstitutionalist perspective of comparative development
  • Geography and development
    This topic covers the role of geographic factors in economic development, and their interaction with other, in particular, institutional factors.
  • Human Capital and Development
    This topic covers the concept of human capital, its role in comparative development, and policies to foster it, with particular focus on developing countries
  • Institutions and Development
    This topic covers the role of institutions in development, with particular emphasis on the concepts of extractive and inclusive institutions by Acemoglu - Johnson - Robinson
  • Culture and Development
    This topic covers the role cultural factors like social capital and diversity play in development process
  • Resorces: Curse or Blessing
    This topic considers the role of resources in the development process, whether and under which conditions they turn out to be curse or blessing for development outcomes
  • International Aid
    This topic conseiders rationales and limitations of international aid as a tool of promoting development of underdeveloped parts of the World. Arguments of both proponents and opponents of aid are considered.
  • The East Asian Miracle
    This topic uses several cases of the East and Southeast Asian countries to apply concepts from the course and analyze the causes of development success and failure.
Assessment Elements

Assessment Elements

  • non-blocking Essay on a development problem
  • non-blocking Activity during seminars
  • non-blocking Final Exam
Interim Assessment

Interim Assessment

  • Interim assessment (3 module)
    0.25 * Activity during seminars + 0.25 * Essay on a development problem + 0.5 * Final Exam


Recommended Core Bibliography

  • Acemoglu, D., Johnson, S., & Rosinson, J. A. (2001). The Colonial Origins of Comparative Development: An Empirical Investigation. American Economic Review, 91(5), 1369. https://doi.org/10.1257/aer.91.5.1369
  • Alesina, A., & Giuliano, P. (2015). Culture and Institutions†. Journal of Economic Literature, 53(4), 898–944. https://doi.org/10.1257/jel.53.4.898
  • Burnside, C., & Dollar, D. (2000). Aid, Policies, and Growth. American Economic Review, 90(4), 847–868. https://doi.org/10.1257/aer.90.4.847
  • Easterly, W. (2001). The Elusive Quest for Growth : Economists’ Adventures and Misadventures in the Tropics. Cambridge, Mass: The MIT Press. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=62733
  • Easterly, W., & Levine, R. (1997). Africa’s Growth Tragedy: Policies and Ethnic Divisions. Quarterly Journal of Economics, 112(4), 1203–1250. https://doi.org/10.1162/003355300555466
  • Evans, P. B. (1995). Embedded Autonomy : States and Industrial Transformation. Princeton University Press.
  • Guns, germs, and steel : the fates of human societies, Diamond, J., 1999
  • Hanushek, E. A., & Woessmann, L. (2008). The Role of Cognitive Skills in Economic Development. Journal of Economic Literature, 46(3), 607–668. https://doi.org/10.1257/jel.46.3.607
  • Jeffrey D. Sachs. (2005). The End of Poverty : Economic Possibilities for Our Time. Penguin Books.
  • Making democracy work : civic traditions in modern Italy, Putnam, R. D., Leonardi, R., 1994
  • Michael L. Ross. (2012). The Oil Curse : How Petroleum Wealth Shapes the Development of Nations. Princeton University Press.
  • Milanovic, B. (2013). Global Income Inequality in Numbers: in History and Now Global Income Inequality in Numbers: in History and Now. Global Policy, 4(2), 198–208. https://doi.org/10.1111/1758-5899.12032
  • Philippe Aghion, & Steven Durlauf. (2005). Handbook of Economic Growth. North Holland.
  • Rajan, R. G., & Subramanian, A. (2008). Aid and Growth: What Does the Cross-Country Evidence Really Show? Review of Economics & Statistics, 90(4), 643–665. https://doi.org/10.1162/rest.90.4.643
  • Rodrik, D., Subramanian, A., & Trebbi, F. (2004). Institutions Rule: The Primacy of Institutions Over Geography and Integration in Economic Development. Journal of Economic Growth, 9(2), 131–165. https://doi.org/10.1023/B:JOEG.0000031425.72248.85
  • Sachs, J. D. (2012). Government, Geography, and Growth. Foreign Affairs, 91(5), 142–150.
  • WANTCHEKON, L., KLAŠNJA, M., & NOVTA, N. (2015). Education and Human Capital Externalities: Evidence from Colonial Benin. Quarterly Journal of Economics, 130(2), 703–757. https://doi.org/10.1093/qje/qjv004

Recommended Additional Bibliography

  • Acemoglu, D., & Robinson, J. A. (2012). Why Nations Fail : The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty (Vol. 1st ed). New York: Currency. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=590177
  • Angrist, J. D., & Pischke, J.-S. (2009). Mostly Harmless Econometrics : An Empiricist’s Companion. Princeton: Princeton University Press. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=329761
  • Joe Studwell. (2013). How Asia Works : Success and Failure In the World’s Most Dynamic Region. Grove Press.
  • North, D. C., Weingast, B. R., & Wallis, J. J. (2009). Violence and Social Orders : A Conceptual Framework for Interpreting Recorded Human History. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=273785