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Unit information: Development Economics in 2016/17

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Unit name Development Economics
Unit code ECONM0003
Credit points 15
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Berg
Open unit status Not open

Completion of first-term courses



School/department School of Economics
Faculty Faculty of Social Sciences and Law


This course focuses on human capital in poor countries. It covers theoretical and empirical material relating to the prevalence of low levels of education and child labour and poor health and high levels of childhood mortality. It focuses on the role of poverty/income and the role of the state, with an emphasis on the political economy of public goods provision.

The aim of the course is to introduce students to issues of fundamental importance to welfare, human development and growth in developing countries and to equip them with the techniques for modelling and analysing these questions as problems of resource allocation. The ultimate objective of the course is to provide students with the analytical apparatus needed to assess alternative policy measures directed at improving human development in poor countries.

Intended learning outcomes

Students should be able to apply their knowledge of microeconomic theory and econometrics to understand the functioning of agents and markets in developing countries. They should be able to see the behavioural underpinnings of institutions. They should be acquainted with issues arising in measurement. The central learning objective is that students develop intuition and skill in using microeconomic models to explain relevant socio-economic outcomes in developing economies. This involves learning to understand economic behaviour as a function of the structure and constraints of particular problems, be they the division of work or food within a family that is subject to credit and subsistence constraints, the production of child health at very low levels of input, or the delivery of public services in environments rife with market, government and political failures. As there is often more than one plausible theoretical construct, a further objective is to teach students how alternative models may be tested and critically appraised. It is expected that this course will contribute foundational material to the overarching question of how some countries manage to increase their rates of economic growth and achieve widespread increases in human welfare more quickly than others.

Teaching details

The methods of teaching include lectures and classes. Lectures will introduce and explain the concepts, as well as their applications. Classes will provide the opportunity to discuss specific papers and ideas in more detail. Classes will also be used for student presentations on chosen topics.

  • 16 hours lectures
  • 8 hours classes
  • 30 hours preparation of essay
  • 2 hours final exam
  • 94 hours individual study

Assessment Details

Formative assessment: Students must submit a typed essay of not more than 2,500 words on an agreed topic. Essays should combine theoretical and empirical knowledge of the subject.

Summative assessment: Three hour unseen examination (100%) which will test the ability of students to apply and critically appraise microeconomic models relevant to the topic.

Reading and References

The course readings largely consist of recent journal articles. The following are not all directly related to the course, but are useful background reading for students interested in the area.

Acemoglu, Daron and James Robinson. 2013. 'Why Nations Fail'. Profile Books.

Banerjee, Abhijit and Esther Duflo. 2011. 'Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way to Fight Global Poverty'. PublicAffairs

Bardhan, Pranab and Christopher Udry. 1999. 'Development Microeconomics'. Oxford University Press.

Ray, Debraj. 1998. 'Development Economics'. Princeton University Press.