fbpx Economic Development: Theory and Evidence | Harvard Kennedy School
Eliana La Ferrara Photo

Eliana La Ferrara

Professor of Public Policy

Dani Rodrik Photo

Dani Rodrik

Ford Foundation Professor of International Political Economy

DEV-101 is a semester-long course that evaluates theories of economic development and scrutinizes empirical evidence to understand key features of the economic development processes across countries. The course will utilize analytical frameworks, grounded in economic theory, to examine the determinants of factor accumulation by individuals, firms and societies and productivity and efficiency of resource allocation across activities and time. Drawing on empirical evidence and country illustrations, we will evaluate the relevance of these frameworks for diagnosing root causes of economic development and to develop an understanding of how the judicious use of theory and empirics can provide guidance for economic policy reforms, including anti-poverty policies. The course is organized along the following broad sections: (i) a methodological overview, including analytical frameworks for understanding economic growth, factor accumulation and institutional outcomes, as well as an overview of empirical methods to evaluate policy impact; (ii) a historical overview of comparative economic development, with focus on the Industrial Revolution, the Great Divergence, and colonialism; (iii) individual determinants and returns to investment in human capital (fertility, health and education), and financial capital (credit markets, savings behavior), and constraints to factor accumulation; (iv) determinants of productivity, with emphasis on land and agriculture, the environment, resource misallocation within and across households/firms, poverty traps, learning and coordination and their impacts on productivity; (v) principles of economic reform, the role of institutions, and public service delivery.

This course is only open to MPA/ID students.