ECON 459
Institutions and Development Fall 2023
Division II
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Why are some societies rich and others poor? While typical answers emphasize proximate causes like factor accumulation (i.e., growth in physical and human capital), technological progress, and demographic change, the institutional approach highlights the role of social, political, and cultural factors, broadly defined, as fundamental determinants of economic prosperity. The central idea is that the value-added of economic activities to society is primarily conditioned by the social arrangements within which these activities occur — namely, arrangements that generate a structure of private incentives, which can either promote behavior that is conducive to economic development or lead to the pursuit of private gain at the expense of the common good. Thus, the key to economic development in this approach is the emergence of complementary institutions and structures of governance in society. This course will survey the recent literature on the topic of institutions and economic development, with an emphasis on empirical evidence in the context of both historical and contemporary societies. The purpose of the course will be to expose students to the core ideas and empirical tools employed at the frontier of research in this area. The readings will primarily comprise published journal articles and unpublished working papers, and students should expect to apply concepts from across all the core courses in economics.
The Class: Format: seminar
Limit: 19
Expected: 19
Class#: 1806
Grading: no pass/fail option, no fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: extensive class participation, two 5-page review papers, two class presentations, and one 15- to 20-page empirical research paper (written in stages)
Prerequisites: ECON 251, ECON 252, and either ECON 255 or STAT 346
Enrollment Preferences: senior Economics majors
Distributions: Division II

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