Development Economics


The broad objective of the course is to give students an overview of current knowledge on development economics. We also aim to offer basic research skills: we will often take the perspective of a researcher/analytic policy maker in this field. Both theory and empirics will be tackled. The course will introduce the main evaluation methods used in impact measurement of development interventions.

General characterization





Responsible teacher

Pedro C. Vicente


Weekly - Available soon

Total - Available soon

Teaching language




Banerjee, Abhijit V., and Esther Duflo (2011), Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way to Fight Global Poverty, Public Affairs; Collier, Paul (2007), The Bottom Billion: Why the Poorest Countries Are Failing and What Can Be Done About It, Oxford University Press; Collier, Paul (2009), Wars, Guns, and Votes: Democracy in Dangerous Places, HarperCollins Publishers;

Easterly, William (2006), The White Man´s Burden: Why the West´s Efforts to Aid the Rest Have Done So Much Ill and So Little Good, Penguin Press;

Sachs, Jeffrey D. (2005), The End of Poverty: Economic Possibilities for Our Time, Penguin Press.

Teaching method

There will be two classes of 1 hour and 20 minutes per week, based mainly on slides. For each topic, we will give a general overview of the theoretical and empirical issues, with examples taken from recent research studied in more detail. The participation of students will be strongly encouraged to foster discussion and critical thought. Individual written work will encourage students to gain research skills.

Evaluation method

1.    Final exam (50% of the grade).
2.    Presentation of a research paper (25% of the grade): Done in groups of 4/5 (depending on class size) for the duration of approximately 40 minutes (25 minutes presentation, 15 minutes discussion). Each group will prepare slides for the presentation and for posting on the class website. The presentation should: (i) provide motivation to the research question and highlight the main results, (ii) produce a clear and organized presentation of theory (if applicable) and evidence, (iii) be critical of the results, (iv) provide appropriate responses to questions from the class.

3.    Writing one proposal for a research/evaluation design (25% of the grade): Done individually. Each student will prepare one 10-page (maximum) design proposal (font size 12pp, 2.5cm margins). Each one should include: (i) research question, (ii) motivation relating to literature, including theory (if applicable), (iii) empirical method used (e.g., randomization, instrumental variables; field, lab, natural experiment), (iv) details of measurement namely main outcome variables. Importance of research question, appropriate choice of method and feasibility of the project will be important criteria in assessing the design proposals. Feasibility can be attested through the identification of a specific partner organization (e.g., implementing a development intervention to be evaluated), or with preliminary analysis of readily available data. At half-term, students are expected to send a draft for feedback (deadline: October 19). The final design proposal is due at the end of the term (deadline: December 7). Please send the mid-term draft and the final design proposal by email to the grader (with cc to the instructor).

Participation in class is expected and can marginally change final grades. All students are required to read the papers in advance, and to comment on the presentations and topics during class.

Subject matter

The focus of the course will be on the main current topics in the development economics literature. After a brief methodological overview, the course will discuss poverty traps and foreign aid effectiveness. Natural resources and ethnic divisions will follow. Good institutions will be portrayed as improving development. We will then examine democracy and corruption. The remaining of the course is devoted to assessing development interventions. We will first look at governance interventions. We will then analyze social programs devoted to health and education. Then we turn to incentivizing access to formal banking, namely to credit, savings, and remittances. Finally, we devote some attention to agriculture policy in developing countries.


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