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This course focuses on the proximate and ultimate causes of global economic inequality across nations. Motivated by several stylized facts from cross-country data, we will pose a series of questions: Why are some countries so rich while others remain so poor? What explains heterogeneity in the experience of economic growth across nations, with some growing at a moderate pace over long periods of time, others experiencing rapid growth over shorter intervals, and yet others stagnating persistently? Do all economies face comparable challenges to achieving sustained economic growth? Will poorer countries ever catch up to richer ones? To answer these and other related questions, we will explore the underlying mechanisms of economic growth. What role is played by savings and investment (i.e., the accumulation of physical capital)? What is the influence of population growth? How important are investments in human capital (i.e., education and population health)? What about technological differences across nations? How much significance should we ascribe to cross-country differences in geographical characteristics? How much should we ascribe to differences in the quality of institutions? For each question, we will explore both theoretical and empirical approaches, ranging from formal models to qualitative historical evidence to cross-country growth regressions. We will debate the usefulness of these different approaches for development policy and will discuss the reasons why so many questions about global economic inequality remain difficult to answer.
Format: lecture; This course will be taught in hybrid format in Fall 2020. All classroom lectures will be recorded and made available for remote learners unable to attend lectures virtually. Problem set assignments and exams may be submitted electronically as needed, and all exams will be "take home." Additional office hours will be offered to accommodate the needs of remote learners.
Grading: no pass/fail option,
no fifth course option
Problem sets, one midterm exam, final exam.
ECON 252 and either ECON 255 or STAT 346. ECON 251 recommended but not required.
Junior and senior economics majors.
The course material will draw heavily on mathematical and statistical models of economic growth and cross-country comparative development. Students will routinely work on sophisticated mathematical models of economic growth, involving the application of solution concepts from dynamic optimization and differential equations. Students will also be required to perform some econometric analyses in their assignments.
GBST Economic Development Studies Electives