This course is meant to train students on recent topics in development economics bridging the gap between theoretical and empirical research and the implementation of public policy to eradicate poverty. In this sense, the course will allow the students to apply the analytical tools they acquired during the first year of the master to specific questions and to relate them to targeted policies and their effectiveness.
This course will focus on microeconomic issues, seeking to understand the factors and constraints influencing individual-level, household-level, or firm-level decision-making in developing countries.
We will cover a series of broad topics. The first will concern human capital. Health and education are desirable per se, but they are also important determinants of productivity and of fertility levels (and of each other). What prevents poor households from becoming healthier and to acquiring more education ? Why are girls often at a disadvantage within the household ? What policies can improve health and education levels in developing countries ?
The second broad topic will concern financial capital. Most people in developing countries are self-employed earning highly irregular income, either a daily profit in the informal sector when business is good or only realizing income once or twice a year in farming when the harvest is good. How do households deal with such irregular income ? Can they borrow and save, and if not why not ? How and how well do informal insurance networks work ? Is microfinance the solution to all problems ?
We will also consider the importance of physical capital. Since the majority of poor households live in rural areas, agricultural productivity is central determinant of income for most of the world’ poor. How do the land distribution, property rights and access to technology matter for agricultural productivity ?
To summarize, the course will cover complementary topics in the development literature linking relevant econometric techniques and theoretical models to the implementation of relevant public policies.
Course outline :
The detailed list of the topics covered (and the related plan of the course) is the following :
- What is economic development ? Measuring poverty.
1. Determinants of health : the household behaviour
- Nutrition based poverty traps
- Adoption and use of health products
2. Education :
- The demand for education and child labour
- The returns to education
3. Fertility, gender gaps and
- The determinants of fertility choices and the missing women
- Intra-household decision making
1. Microfinance and micro-savings
- Access to credit in poor countries
- Why don’t the poors save more ?
2. Coping with risk
- Income risk and agricultural production
- Informal safety nets
- Property rights and technology adoption :
- Property right and farm productivity
- Technology adoption and information