This course examines the so-called “developing world.” Much of the course will focus on the nature and extent of poverty, economic explanations of development, institutions and policies that foster or impede growth, and the international environment in which developing nations operate.
Readings include these books, written by leading experts in the field:
- Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo, Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way to Fight Global Poverty, Public Affairs, 2011.
- William Easterly, The Elusive Quest For Growth: Economists’ Adventures and Misadventures in the Tropics, MIT Press, Cambridge, 2001.
A major component of the course is a team-based project, in which students collaborate on solving a problem that reflects some of the challenges frequently faced by people in developing economies. Here is a descriptions of one project recently chosen by a team:
Choose a location outside the USA and design an international volunteer- or eco-tourism experience in which both the participants and the host community derive long term benefit. Make sure you define “benefit” and be aware that it’s possible to have more than one. Also make sure to include a process that measures who benefits and why to determine if the program’s goals are achieved.
- Choose one of the NGO videos at the Half the Sky Movement website, http://www.halftheskymovement.org/ngotools
- Jared Malsin, “Egyptian Woman Reveals 42-Year Secret of Survival: Pretending to Be a Man,” The New York Times, 25 March 2015 (Evernote).
- Tina Rosenberg, “Talking Female Circumcision Out of Existence,” The New York Times, 17 July 2013 (Evernote).
Does the Half the Sky video you watched contain the same message about women and development that the works of Malsin and Rosenberg send? Why? What is the message? Identify which video you watched in your response.
- MRU: Knowledge Problems and Incentive Problems
- MRU: Examples of Aid that Works
- Easterly, Ch. 2, p. 25-45.
- David Damberger, “When NGOs Fail,” TEDx, 21 April 2011, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HGiHU-agsGY#t.
- Aida Edemariam, “Everybody Knows It Doesn’t Work,” The Guardian, 18 February 2009 (Evernote).
- Dave Kestenbaum and Jacob Goldstein, “Money for Nothing, and Your Cows for Free,” This American Life, 16 August 2013, http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/503/i-was-just-trying-to-help?act=1 (click on the small arrow).
- Lydia Polgreen, “A Music-Sharing Network for the Unconnected,” The New York Times, 4 June 2015 (Evernote).
Should developing societies be provided with foreign aid? Why? If so, what kind? Why?
- MRU: Trust and Economic Growth
- Easterly, Ch. 3, p. 47-69.
Given diminishing returns to capital, the lack of convergence, and the role of trust in economic growth, will societies that are poor now always be poorer than other societies? Why?