ECON 378
Long-Run Perspectives on Economic Growth Fall 2014
Division II Quantative/Formal Reasoning
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The world today is marred by vast differences in the standard of living, with about a 30-fold difference in per-capita incomes between the poorest country and the most affluent. What explanations do long-run growth economists have to offer for these differences in levels of prosperity across nations? Are the explanations to be found in underlying differences between countries over the past few decades, the past few centuries, or the past few millennia? If contemporary differences in living standards have “deep” historically-rooted origins, what scope exists for policies to reduce global inequality today? Can we expect global inequality to be reduced gradually over time, through natural processes of economic development, or are they likely to persist unless action is taken to reduce them? This course will present a unified theory of economic growth for thinking about these and related questions. Examples of issues to be covered include: the Neoclassical growth model and its inefficacy for answering questions about development over long time horizons; Malthusian stagnation across societies during the pre-industrial stage of economic development; the importance of the so-called demographic transition and of human capital formation in the course of industrialization; the persistent influence of colonialism, slavery, and ethnic fragmentation in shaping the quality of contemporary politico-economic institutions; and the long-lasting effects of geography on comparative development, through its impact on the emergence of agriculture in early human societies and its influence in shaping the genetic composition of human populations across the globe.
The Class: Format: lecture/discussion
Limit: 25
Expected: 25
Class#: 1477
Grading: yes pass/fail option, yes fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: at least one exam, a research paper and a class presentation
Prerequisites: ECON 251 and 252 or permission of instructor, familiarity with econometrics (ECON 255) will be helpful but not essential
Enrollment Preferences: junior and senior Economics majors
Distributions: Division II Quantative/Formal Reasoning
Attributes: POEC Comparative POEC/Public Policy Courses

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