Feb 6th 2017

Foundations of Development Policy: Advanced Development Economics (edX)

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Using economic theory and data analysis, explore the economic lives of the poor, and the ways to design and implement effective development policy. In this course, we will study the different facets of human development in topics such as education, health, gender, the family, land relations, risk, informal and formal norms, public policy, and institutions.

While studying each of these topics, we will delve into the following questions:

- What determines the decisions of poor households in developing countries?

- What constraints are poor households subject to?

- What is the scope for policy interventions (implemented by the government, international organizations, or NGOs)?

- What policies have been tried out? Have they been successful?

At the same time, you will discover modern empirical methods in economics, in particular Randomized Control Trials (RCTs). Throughout the course, we will expose you to all facets of empirical projects, from experimental design and ethical issues, to data collection and data analysis.You will have the chance to gain experience working with real data using software for statistical analysis during weekly assignments.

What you'll learn:

- Lessons from cutting edge research in development across a range of topics

- How to build and apply economic models relevant to concrete development situations

- How to design and conduct a randomized control trial to learn more about these questions

- Data management and analysis using the software R

Course Syllabus

Module 1: Introduction and the Cycle of Poverty

Introduction to the scale of the problem, disparities between rich and poor countries, and different approaches to understanding development.

Module 2: Nutrition and Productivity

Presenting a theoretical framework for thinking about the relationship between income, nutrition, and poverty. Important methodological concepts include the causality problem and randomization design. Includes an in-depth case study of demand for and provision of health care in India.

Module 3: Education

Decisions about investing in children’s education and perceived returns to education. Introduction to instrumental variables estimation and innovative data collection methods.

Module 4: Gender in the Family

The impact of development policy on gender and intrahousehold dynamics. Introduction to ethical issues and solutions for working with human subjects.

Module 5: Insurance

How the poor deal with risk in the face of uncertainty and financial constraints. Introduction to modeling how households smooth consumption over time.

Module 6: Land

Theoretical and historical perspectives on land reform and property rights. Refresher of fixed effects and control variables in regression analysis.

Module 7: Credit

Discussion of market failures that microfinance seeks to address and the impact of microfinance on the credit-constrained poor.

Module 8: Savings

Discussion of savings as a risk mitigation and consumption smoothing strategy. Market and behavioral constraints on saving.

Module 9: The Role of Government

Discussion of key functions played by the government in provision of public goods, how to effectively target and reach the poor.

Module 10: Political Economy

Persistent impact of historical factors and institutions on current outcomes. In-depth discussion of instrumental variables and regression discontinuity design as identification strategies.

Module 11: Corruption

Strategies to measure and mitigate corruption.