ECON 378
Long-Run Comparative Development Fall 2021
Division II Quantative/Formal Reasoning

Class Details

The world today is marred by vast disparities in the standard of living, with about a 30-fold difference in real GDP per capita between the poorest and most affluent of nations. What are the causes of such differences in prosperity across countries? Are the origins of global inequality to be found in underlying differences among societies over the past few decades, the past few centuries, or the past few millennia? If contemporary differences in living standards have such “deep” historical roots, what scope exists for policies to reduce global inequality today? Can we expect inequality to be reduced through some natural process of macroeconomic development, or is it likely to persist unless acted upon by policy? 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 enduring effects of geography on comparative development, through its impact on the emergence of agriculture in early human societies and its influence in shaping the composition of traits in populations across the globe.
The Class: Format: lecture; discussion
Limit: 25
Expected: 25
Class#: 1506
Grading: no pass/fail option, no fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: problem sets, at least one exam, a research paper, and a class presentation
Prerequisites: ECON 251, ECON 252, and either ECON 255 or STAT 346
Enrollment Preferences: junior and senior Economics majors
Distributions: Division II Quantative/Formal Reasoning
QFR Notes: The course material will draw heavily on mathematical and statistical models of economic growth and macroeconomic development. Students will be required to routinely develop and solve sophisticated mathematical models of economic growth, involving the rigorous application of solution concepts from constrained optimization and from optimal control theory. Students will also be required to perform some econometric analyses in their assignments.
Attributes: POEC Comparative POEC/Public Policy Courses

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