JCU Logo


COURSE NAME: "Issues in Economic Development "
SEMESTER & YEAR: Fall 2018

INSTRUCTOR: Yasmina Rim Limam
EMAIL: [email protected]
HOURS: TTH 1:30-2:45 PM
PREREQUISITES: Prerequisites: Junior Standing, EC 201, EC 202; Recommended EC 316 or EC 341

This course examines in-depth selected topics on development that are of current interest.

Facts and characteristics of developing countries.

Capital fundamentalism, productivity, and human capital.

Poverty, income inequality and pro-poor growth.

Balance of payments, foreign investment and trade.

Environmental economics and sustainable development.

Food policy.

Gender and economic development.

The role of institutions.


Upon completion of this course, students will be able to:

1. Understand basic concepts of development and the characteristics of developing countries.

2. Apply basic economic theory to economic development.

3. Communicate knowledge on current issues and challenges facing developing countries.

4. Comprehend the complex and multisided character of development.

5. Understand interconnections between economic variables and the effect of economic policies on economic outcome.



Book TitleAuthorPublisherISBN numberLibrary Call NumberComments
Economic Development (The Pearson Series in Economics) Paperback – 7 Aug 2014 Prof Michael Todaro & Stephen C SmithPearson978-1292002972  
Midterm ExamThe midterm exam covers all material up to the week prior to the exam.30
Final ExamThe final exam is cumulative and covers all material covered in class up to the last day of classes. NOTE: Exams emphasize understanding and capacity of analysis rather than memorization of information. 40
Written AssignmentThere will be one brief written assignment. The assignment will focus upon analyzing an economic development challenge faced by a developing country chosen spontaneously by each student (ideally, each student should select a different country). Student should be able to relate the issue of his choice to economic theory. The assignment should not exceed 800 words.15
  Note: Exams emphasize understanding and capacity of analysis rather than memorization of information. 
Class PresentationThere will be individual or group presentations (the amount of these will depend on the final number of students taking the course). Presentations can be either on pre-assigned readings (from the reading list below) or on an open research question. If feasible, we will try to have at least one presentation per topic. Presentations will often open the door for further class discussion and in class interaction. Students should be able to use theoretical and empirical instruments to justify/illustrate arguments or suggestions. More information on presentations dates will be provided as we move on with the semester.15

AWork of this quality directly addresses the question or problem raised and provides a coherent argument displaying an extensive knowledge of relevant information or content. This type of work demonstrates the ability to critically evaluate concepts and theory and has an element of novelty and originality. There is clear evidence of a significant amount of reading beyond that required for the course.
BThis is highly competent level of performance and directly addresses the question or problem raised.There is a demonstration of some ability to critically evaluatetheory and concepts and relate them to practice. Discussions reflect the student’s own arguments and are not simply a repetition of standard lecture andreference material. The work does not suffer from any major errors or omissions and provides evidence of reading beyond the required assignments.
CThis is an acceptable level of performance and provides answers that are clear but limited, reflecting the information offered in the lectures and reference readings.
DThis level of performances demonstrates that the student lacks a coherent grasp of the material.Important information is omitted and irrelevant points included.In effect, the student has barely done enough to persuade the instructor that s/he should not fail.
FThis work fails to show any knowledge or understanding of the issues raised in the question. Most of the material in the answer is irrelevant.


You cannot make-up a major exam (midterm or final) without the permission of the Dean’s Office. The Dean’s Office will grant such permission only when the absence was caused by a serious impediment, such as a documented illness, hospitalization or death in the immediate family (in which you must attend the funeral) or other situations of similar gravity. Absences due to other meaningful conflicts, such as job interviews, family celebrations, travel difficulties, student misunderstandings or personal convenience, will not be excused. Students who will be absent from a major exam must notify the Dean’s Office prior to that exam. Absences from class due to the observance of a religious holiday will normally be excused. Individual students who will have to miss class to observe a religious holiday should notify the instructor by the end of the Add/Drop period to make prior arrangements for making up any work that will be missed. The final exam period runs until ____________
As stated in the university catalog, any student who commits an act of academic dishonesty will receive a failing grade on the work in which the dishonesty occurred. In addition, acts of academic dishonesty, irrespective of the weight of the assignment, may result in the student receiving a failing grade in the course. Instances of academic dishonesty will be reported to the Dean of Academic Affairs. A student who is reported twice for academic dishonesty is subject to summary dismissal from the University. In such a case, the Academic Council will then make a recommendation to the President, who will make the final decision.
John Cabot University does not discriminate on the basis of disability or handicap. Students with approved accommodations must inform their professors at the beginning of the term. Please see the website for the complete policy.


Week1: The big questions in economic development: Principles and concepts of development.

- Easterly, William and Ross Levine, “The European Origins of Economic Development”, mimeo, NYU and Brown, December 2008.

- Wacziarg, Romain and Enrico Spolaore, “The Diffusion of Development”, Quarterly Journal of Economics, 124(2), May 2009.

Weeks 2 and 3: Economic growth:  capital fundamentalism, productivity, and human capital.

- Easterly, William and Ross Levine, “It’s Not Factor Accumulation: Stylized Facts and Growth Models”, World Bank Economic Review, 15(2), 2001.

- Singh Ajit, “Savings, Investment and the Corporation in the East Asian Miracle.” Journal of Development Studies, No. 34, 1998.

- Collins, Susan and Barry P. Bosworth, “Economic Growth in East Asia: Accumulation Versus Assimilation”, Brooking Papers on Economic Activity, 27(2): 135-204, 1996.

- Kim, Jungsuk and Jungsoo Park, “The Role of Total Factor Productivity Growth in Middle Income Countries”, African Development Bank Working Paper Series, No. 527, 2017.

Week 4: Poverty and foreign aid:  is growth pro-poor?

- Ravallion, Martin, “Pro-Poor Growth: A Primer” Development Research Group, World Bank 1818 H Street NW, Washington DC

- “Pro-Poor Growth and Development:  Linking Economic Growth and Poverty Reduction”. Overseas Development Institute Briefing Paper,  January 2008.

- Leibbrandt, Murray, I. Woolard, A. Finn and J. Argent, “Trends in South African Income Distribution and Poverty Since the Fall of Apartheid” OECD Social, Employment  and Migration Working Papers, No. 101, OECD: Paris, 2010.

Week 5: Monetary and fiscal policy, balance of payments and external debt.

-  De Beer, Barend, “South Africa’s Experience with Capital Flows Since the Financial Crisis:  From Measurement to Analysis,” South African Reserve Bank.  Paper  presented at the IFC satellite meeting, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 2015.

- Lucas, Robert E., “Why doesn’t Capital Flow from Rich to Poor Countries?”.  American Economic Review, No. 88: 92-96, 1990.

Weeks 6 and 7: Independence or interdependence – what role for trade, foreign investment, and global finance?

- “South Africa Economic Update Focus on Export Competitiveness”, The World Bank, 2014.

- Borensztein, E., J. De Gregorio and J.W. Lee, “How does Foreign Direct Investment Affect Economic Growth?” Journal of International Economics 45(1): 115-35, 1998.

- Meunier, Sophie, “Beware of Chinese Bearing Gifts: Why China’s Direct Investment Poses Political Challenges in Europe and the United States” Forthcoming in Julien  Chaisse ed., China’s three-Prong Investment Strategy: Bilateral, Regional, and Global Tracks (London: Oxford University Press, 2018).  https://scholar.princeton.edu/sites/default/files/smeunier/files/meunier_beware_of_chinese_bearing_gifts_100517.pdf

Weeks 8 and 9: Environmental economics: market and government failure and the price of nature.  AND MIDTERM 1

- Pollock, Nancy, “Nauru Phosphate History and the Resource Curse Narrative”, Journal de la Societe des Oceanistes, 2014. https://journals.openedition.org/jso/7055.

- Fankhauser, Samuel and Nicholas Stern, “Climate Change, Development, Poverty and Economics”, Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy Working Paper No. 284,  2017.

- “The Tragedy of the High Seas - Governing the Oceans” The Economist, February 2014.

Week 10: Climate change and public economics.

- Spash, Clive L., “The Brave New World of Carbon Trading”, New Political Economy 15(2): 169-95, 2010.

- Laing, Tim, M. Sato, M. Grubb and C. Comberti, “Assessing the Effectiveness of the EU Emissions Trading Scheme”, Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy Working  Paper No.126, 2013.

- Harris, Jonathan M., Brian Roach and Anne-Marie Codu, “The Economics of Global Climate Change”, Global Development and Environment Institute, Tufts University, 2017.

Week 11: Food policy: solving world hunger and food dumping.

- Paul, James A. And K. Wahlberg, “A new Era of World Hunger? The Food Crisis Analyzed” In Dialogue on Globalization, Global Policy Forum, 2008.

- Olomola, Aderibigbe S., “Ending Rural Hunger: The Case of Nigeria” Africa Growth Initiative at Brookings, October 2017.

- “State of Food Insecurity in the World in Brief” Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, 2015

Week 12 and 13: Gender and Economics:  Can women economic empowerment be the answer?

- Duflo, Esther, “Women Empowerment and Economic Development” Journal of Economic Literature, 50(4): 1051-1079, 2012.

- “Promote Gender Equality and Empower Women”, Thematic paper on MDG3, United Nations Development Group, 2010.

- Quisumbing, Agnes R., and Lisa C. Smith, “Intrahousehold Allocation, Gender Relations and Food Security in Developing Countries”, Cornell University, 2007.

Week 14:  Let’s not forget institutions

- Rodrik, Dani, A. Subramanian, and F. Trebbi, “Institutions Rule: The Primacy of Institutions over Geography and Integration in Economic Development”, Journal of  Economic Growth, 9(2), June 2004.

- Bates, R. , ‘The New Institutionalism’, in S. Galiani and I. Sened (eds), Institutions, Property Rights, and Economic Growth: The Legacy of Douglass North, New York:  Cambridge University Press, pp: 50 - 65, 2014.

Note:  only a subset of the readings will be mandatory


The internet has very useful sites where you can find a number of readings on different development topics. The World Bank home page has some interesting information at http://www.worldbank.org. In addition to academic papers, the World Bank has very useful regional reports that can be downloaded free of charge. The African Development Bank (www.adb.org) offers numerous case studies that can be useful for selecting the country of your essay.  Other sites such as the Encyclopedia of Nations (http://www.nationsencyclopedia.com) have detailed information on most countries in the world.  Finance and Development is a quarterly magazine published by the International Monetary Fund (www.imf.org) and provides a wide range of book reviews and articles on international economics, finance and economic development.

* This syllabus is preliminary and is subject to change