Advanced Topics in Economics (Development)


This course will give students an overview of current research on development economics. Both theory and empirics will be tackled, with a strong applied focus.

General characterization





Responsible teacher

Alex Armand


Weekly - Available soon

Total - Available soon

Teaching language



Available soon


Readings by Class Subject (readings indicated with * are mandatory)

1.    Conflict
Natural resources
Dube, Oeindrila, and Juan F. Vargas. "Commodity price shocks and civil conflict: Evidence from Colombia." The Review of Economic Studies 80.4 (2013): 1384-1421.
Caselli, Francesco, and Tom  Cunningham.  "Leader  behaviour  and  the  natural  resource curse." Oxford Economic Papers 61.4 (2009): 628-650.
*Caselli, Francesco, and Guy Michaels (2013), Do Oil Windfalls Improve Living Standards? Evidence from Brazil, American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, 5(1), pp. 208-238.
Mehlum, Halvor, Karl Moene and Ragnar Torvik (2006), Institutions and the Resource Curse, The Economic Journal, 116(508), pp. 1-20.
Robinson, James A., Ragnar Torvik and Thierry Verdier (2006), Political Foundations of the Resource Curse, Journal of Development Economics, 79, pp. 447-468.
Sachs, Jeffrey D. and Andrew M. Warner (1995), Natural Resource Abundance and Economic Growth, NBER, Working Paper 5398.
Vicente, Pedro C. (2010), Does Oil Corrupt? Theory and Evidence from a Natural Experiment in West Africa, Journal of Development Economics, 92(1), pp. 28-38.
Ethnic divisions
Easterly, William, and Ross Levine (1997), Africa’s Growth Tragedy: Policies and Ethnic Divisions, Quarterly Journal of Economics, 112 (4), pp. 1203-1250.
*Habyarimana, James, Macartan Humphreys, Daniel N. Posner, and Jeremy M. Weinstein (2007), Why Does Ethnic Diversity Undermine Public Goods Provision? American Political Science Review, 101(4), pp. 709-725.
Posner, Daniel N. (2004), The Political Salience of Cultural Difference: Why Chewas and Tumbukas are Allies in Zambia and Adversaries in Malawi, American Political Science Review, 98(4), pp. 529-545.

2.    Corruption and Governance
Barron, Patrick, and Benjamin Olken (2008), The Simple Economics of Extortion: Evidence from Trucking in Aceh, Journal of Political Economy, 117 (3), pp. 417-252.
Bertrand, Marianne, Simeon Djankov, Rema Hanna, and Sendhil Mullainathan (2006), Obtaining a Driver's License in India: An Experimental Approach to Studying Corruption, Quarterly Journal of Economics, 122(4), pp. 1639-1676.
Besley, Timothy (2006), Principled Agents? The Political Economy of Good Government, Oxford University Press.
Ferraz, Claudio, and Frederico Finan. "Electoral accountability and corruption: Evidence from the audits of local governments." The American Economic Review 101.4 (2011): 1274-1311.
Fisman, Raymond (2001), Estimating the Value of Political Connections, American Economic Review, 91(4), pp. 1095-1102.
*Fisman, Raymond and Edward Miguel (2006), Corruption, Norms, and Legal Enforcement: Evidence from Diplomatic Parking Tickets, Journal of Political Economy, 115(6), pp. 1020-1048.
Reinikka, Ritva, and Jakob Svensson (2004). Local Capture: Evidence from a Central Government Transfer Program in Uganda, Quarterly Journal of Economics, 119 (2), pp. 679-705.
Besley, Timothy, and Robin Burgess (2002), The Political Economy of Government Responsiveness: Theory and Evidence from India, Quarterly Journal of Economics, 117(4), pp. 1415-1451.
*Bjorkman, Martina, and Jakob Svensson (2009), Power to the People: Evidence from a Randomized Field Experiment on Community-Based Monitoring in Uganda, Quarterly Journal of Economics, 124(2), pp 735–769.
Fearon, James, Macartan Humphreys, Jeremy M. Weinstein (2009), Can Development Aid Contribute to Social Cohesion After Civil War? Evidence from a Field Experiment in Post-Conflict Liberia, American Economic Review, 99(2), pp. 287–291.
Gordon, Roger & Li, Wei, 2009. "Tax structures in developing countries: Many puzzles and a possible explanation," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 93(7-8), pages 855-866, August.
Martinez-Bravo, Monica, Gerard Padro-i-Miquel, Nancy Qian, and Yang Yao (2011), Do Local Elections in Non-Democracies Increase Accountability? Evidence from Rural China, Working Paper.
Mansuri, Ghazala, and Vijayendra Rao. "Community-based and-driven development: A critical review." The World Bank Research Observer 19.1 (2004): 1-39.
Muralidharan, K, P Niehaus and S Sukhtankar (2016), “Building State Capacity: Evidence from Biometric Smartcards in India”, American Economic Review 106(10): 2895-2929.
Olken.B (2007) “Monitoring Corruption: Evidence from a Field Experiment in Indonesia”, Journal
of Political Economy 115: 200-249.
Piketty, Thomas, and Nancy Qian. "Income inequality and progressive income taxation in China and India, 1986–2015." American economic journal: applied economics 1.2 (2009): 53-63.

3.    Targeting Human Capital: Education
Baird, Sarah, Craig McIntosh, and Berk Ozler (2011), Cash or Condition? Evidence from a Cash Transfer Experiment, Quarterly Journal of Economics, 126(4), pages 1709-1753.
Barrera-Osorio, Felipe, Marianne Bertrand, Leigh L. Linden, and Francisco Perez-Calle (2011), Improving the Design of Conditional Transfer Programs: Evidence from a Randomized Education Experiment in Colombia, American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, 3(2), pp. 167-195.
Araujo, M. Caridad, et al. "Teacher quality and learning outcomes in kindergarten." The Quarterly Journal of Economics 131.3 (2016): 1415-1453.
*Duflo, Esther (2001), Schooling and Labor Market Consequences of School Construction in Indonesia: Evidence from an Unusual Policy Experiment, American Economic Review, 91(4), pp. 795-813.
Duflo, Esther, Rema Hanna and Stephen Ryan (2012), Incentives Work: Getting Teachers to Come to School, American Economic Review, 102(4), pp. 1241-78.
Muralidharan.K and V.Sundararaman (2007) Teacher Incentives in Developing Countries: Experimental Evidence from India. Mimeo Harvard University.
*Schultz.T.P (2004) “School Subsidies for the Poor: Evaluating the Mexican Progresa Poverty Program”, Journal of Development Economics 74: 199-250.
Glewwe, Paul, Michael Kremer, and Sylvie Moulin (2009), Many Children Left Behind? Textbooks and Test Scores in Kenya, American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, 1(1), pp. 112-35.

4.    Targeting Human Capital: Health
Armand, Alex, et al. "Do public health interventions crowd out private health investments? Malaria control policies in Eritrea." Labour Economics 45 (2017): 107-115.
*Almond, Douglas (2006), “Is the 1918 Influenza Pandemic Over? Long-term Effects of In Utero Influenza Exposure in the Post-1940 U.S. Population,” Journal of Political Economy, 114 (4): 672- 712.
Banerjee, Abhijit & Esther Duflo & Gilles Postel-Vinay & Tim Watts, 2010. "Long-Run Health Impacts of Income Shocks: Wine and Phylloxera in Nineteenth-Century France," Review of Economics and Statistics, vol 92(4), pages 714-728.
Cohen, Jessica, and Pascaline Dupas (2010), Free Distribution or Cost-Sharing? Evidence from a Randomized Malaria Prevention Experiment, Quarterly Journal of Economics, 125(1), pp.1-45.
Dupas, Pascaline. "Do teenagers respond to HIV risk information? Evidence from a field experiment in Kenya." American Economic Journal: Applied Economics 3.1 (2011): 1-34.
Gertler, Paul (2004), Do Conditional Cash Transfers Improve Child Health? Evidence from
Progresa’s Control Randomized Experiment, American Economic Review, 94(2), pp. 336-341.
Geruso, M. and D. Spears (2018b). Neighborhood sanitation and infant mortality. American Economic Journal: Applied Economics 10(2), 125–62. 4
*Kremer.M and E.Miguel (2004) “Worms: Identifying Impacts on Education and Health in the Presence of Treatment Externalities”, Econometrica 72: 159-217.
Subramanian. S and A.Deaton (1996) “The Demand for Food and Calories”, Journal of Political
Economy 104: 133-62.

5.    Female Empowerment
Alesina, Alberto, Paola Giuliano, and Nathan Nunn. "On the origins of gender roles: Women and the plough." The Quarterly Journal of Economics 128.2 (2013): 469-530.
Almås, I., A. Armand, O. Attanasio, and P. Carneiro (2016). Measuring and changing control:
Women’s empowerment and targeted transfers. Economic Journal (2017).
*Ashraf, N. (2009). ‘Spousal control and intra-household decision making: An experimental study
in the Philippines’, American Economic Review, vol. 99(4), pp. 1245–77.
Ashraf, N., Field, E. and Lee, J. (2014). ‘Household bargaining and excess fertility: An experimental study in zambia’, American Economic Review, vol. 104(7), pp. 2210–37.
*Benhassine, N., F. Devoto, E. Duflo, P. Dupas, and V. Pouliquen (2015). Turning a shove into a nudge? a “labeled cash transfer” for education. American Economic Journal: Economic Policy 7(3), 86–125.
Duflo, E. (2012). Women empowerment and economic development. Journal of Economic Literature 50(4), 1051–79.
Duflo, E. (2000), Child Health and Household Resources: Evidence from the South African Old- Age Pension Program, American Economic Review: Papers and Proceedings, 90(2), pp. 393-398.

6.    Information, communication and Development
Armand, Alex, Paul Atwell, and Joseph Gomes. The Reach of Radio: Defection Messaging and Armed Group Behavior. No. 01/2017. Navarra Center for International Development, University of Navarra, 2017.
Attanasio, O. P. and K. M. Kaufmann (2014). Education choices and returns to schooling: Mothers’ and youths’ subjective expectations and their role by gender. Journal of Development Economics 109, 203–216.
Chong,  Alberto,  and  Eliana   La   Ferrara;   Television   and   Divorce:   Evidence   from   Brazilian Novelas, Journal of the European Economic Association, Volume 7, Issue 2-3, 1 May 2009, Pages 458–468.
*Jensen, R. (2010). The (perceived) returns to education and the demand for schooling. The Quarterly Journal of Economics 125(2), 515.
Manacorda, M. and A. Tesei (2016, March). Liberation technology: mobile phones and political mobilization in africa. CEP Discussion Paper (1419).
Benjamin A. Olken, 2009. "Do Television and Radio Destroy Social Capital? Evidence from Indonesian Villages," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 1(4), pages 1-33, October.
*Yanagizawa-Drott, D. (2014). Propaganda and conflict: Evidence from the Rwandan genocide. The Quarterly Journal of Economics 129(4), 1947–1994.
7.    Climate and Development
Adhvaryu, A., P. Bharadwaj, J. Fenske, A. Nyshadham, R. Stanley, et al. (2016). Dust and death: evidence from the West African Harmattan. Technical report, Centre for the Study of African Economies, University of Oxford.
Bhalotra, S. (2010). Fatal fluctuations? cyclicality in infant mortality in India. Journal of Devel- opment Economics 93(1), 7–19.
Burgess, R., O. Deschenes, D. Donaldson, and M. Greenstone (2017). Weather, climate change and death in India. University of Chicago.
Burke, M., E. Gong, and K. Jones (2014). Income shocks and HIV in Africa. The Economic Journal 125(585), 1157–1189.
*Dell, M., B. F. Jones, and B. A. Olken (2014). What do we learn from the weather? the new climate- economy literature. Journal of Economic Literature 52(3), 740–98.
Deschênes, O., M. Greenstone, and J. Guryan (2009). Climate change and birth weight. American Economic Review 99(2), 211–17.
Deschenes, O. and E. Moretti (2009). Extreme weather events, mortality, and migration. The Review of Economics and Statistics 91(4), 659–681.
Geruso, M. and D. Spears (2018a). Heat, humidity, and infant mortality in the developing world. Technical report, National Bureau of Economic Research. 4
Heft-Neal, S., J. Burney, E. Bendavid, and M. Burke (2018). Robust relationship between air quality and infant mortality in Africa. Nature 559(7713), 254. 4, 14
Kudamatsu, M., T. Persson, and D. Strömberg (2012). Weather and infant mortality in Africa. 4 Majid, M. F. (2015). The persistent effects of in utero nutrition shocks over the life cycle: Evidence from Ramadan fasting. Journal of Development Economics 117, 48–57. 3
Miguel, E., S. Satyanath, and E. Sergenti (2004). Economic shocks and civil conflict: An instru- mental variables approach. Journal of Political Economy 112(4), 725–753. 13

Note: This reading list can be revised as the term progresses.

Teaching method

There will be five 6 classes of 3 hours, based on slides and class discussion. For each topic, a general overview of the theoretical and empirical issues will be given, and recent research will be studied in greater detail, including methodological issues and recent advances. The participation of students will be strongly encouraged to foster discussion.

Evaluation method

Final exam (60% of the grade).

Class assignment (30% of the grade). To be done individually. Each student will prepare one 5-page (font size 12pp) research proposal. It should include: (i) research question, (ii) motivation relating to literature, including theory (if applicable), (iii) empirical method used (e.g. field experiment, lab experiment, natural experiment, instrumental variables), (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 research proposals. Please submit your proposal directly on Moodle (or send me by email).

Participation in class (10% of the grade). 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. The course will discuss topics related to conflict, corruption and governance, human capital, information, and climate, with a specific focus on developing countries. The list of topics and readings are detailed in the bibliography section.


Programs where the course is taught: