67159 - Economics of Development, Human Development and Protection of Cultural Items

Course Unit Page

  • Teacher Paolo Zagaglia

  • Credits 12

  • SSD SECS-P/02

  • Teaching Mode Traditional lectures

  • Language Italian

  • Course Timetable from Sep 25, 2017 to Nov 30, 2017

Academic Year 2017/2018

Learning outcomes

A considerable share of the world's population lives on less than 2 US Dollar per day. The goal of this course is to better understand the lives of the world's poor. Why do they remain poor? What institutional distortions and failure of market mechanisms hinder their quest to improve their well-being? Can policy really help the world's poor, and by how far?

The course will present selected topics on development economics. The points of discussion will be defined together with the students, based on their background in economics and on their interests.

Economic theory will play a limited role in our overview of these issues. Rather, we will look at the data and consider empirical studies of the world's poor. We will discuss why poverty and hunger, child mortality, low-levels of education, gender inequality, environmental degradation, high fertility, and child labor are pervasive in the developing world. We will also examine the economic consequences of infectious diseases, such as malaria and HIV. Finally, the course will discuss the issue of international mobility of labour and capital, and their impact on the least-developed countries.

Course contents

The course will start with a presentation of a framework for macroeconomic analysis. This represents the starting point on which the course topics will be developed. The aim of this part of the course will be to provide all the students - regardless of their previous studies - with a unified approach to studying macroeconomic issues.

A discussion of selected topics within the field of development economics will follow:

Economic development and economic growth: what they are, how they are related

Measuring economic developments: issues and methods
Human capital and cultural goods: links and methodological perspectives

The geography of world development

Beyond the scope for economic policy: the role of formal and informal institutions

Income inequality, poverty and underdevelopment traps

Gender and economic development

What role for education?

Natural resources and phases of economic development

Structural change and economic development: the role of technological advancements

It should be stressed that the choice of the specific topics discussed during the course may change depending on interaction with the students.


The study material will be based on a reading list including several scientific papers and book chapters. These materials focus on alternative aspects of the process of economic development. Obviously the students will have an opportunity to discuss about the reading list with the teacher. The target to to re-adapt the reading list to the preferences for topics expressed by the students.

The key references are represented by the following:

World Development Report, several years/issues, including 2012: "Gender Equality and Development", World Bank.

A. Banerjee and E. Duflo, Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way to Fight Global Poverty, PublicAffairs, 2012

A. Banerjee, R. Benabou, and D. Mookherjee, editors, Understanding Poverty, Oxford University Press: March 2006

D. Karlan and J. Appel, More than Good Intentions, Plume, 2012

Banerjee, A.V. and Duflo, E. (2007). The Economic Lives of the Poor. The Journal of Economic Perspectives. 21(1):141–167

Canning, David. “The Economics of HIV/AIDS in Low-Income Countries: the Case for Prevention.” Journal of Economic Perspectives, Vol 20:3 (Summer 2006): 121-142.

Edmonds, Eric and Nina Pavcnik (2005), "Child Labor in the Global Economy," Journal of Economic Perspectives, Winter 2005.

Ben Jones and Ben Olken, “Do Leaders Matter? National Leadership and Growth since World War II,” Quarterly Journal of Economics 120 (3), pp. 835-864, August 2005.

Olken, Benjamin, “Monitoring Corruption: Evidence from a Field Experiment in Indonesia,” Journal of Political Economy 115 (2), pp. 200-249, April 2007.

Wade, Robert (1982) “The system of administrative and political corruption: Canal irrigation in South India.” Journal of Development Studies, 18(3), 287-328.

Banerjee, Abhijit: "Making Aid Work," Boston Review, July 2006

Kremer, M. (2002). "Pharmaceuticals and the Developing World," Journal of Economic Perspectives 16(4)

Kremer, M. "Population Growth and Technological Change: 1,000,000 B.C. to 1990," Quarterly Journal of Economics, August, 1993, pp. 681-716.

Guidolin, M. and E. La Ferrara (2007), “Diamonds are forever, Wars are not. Is conflict bad for private firms?,” American Economic Review, 97(5), 1978-93.

Blattman, C. And E. Miguel (2010), “Civil wars”, Journal of Economic Literature, 48(1), 3-57.

The references reported here represent only part of the material that may be covered during the course. Development economics is a broad field of investigation. For this reason, the reading list refrains from reporting any specific textbook that may eventually lead the students away from the relevant topics. In this sense, the students are encouraged to contact the teacher at any time.

Teaching methods

The lecture series will be organized over an intense schedule. Attendance is kindly encouraged. Interaction between the teacher and the students will represent a key element of the course. The students may be encouraged to prepare class presentations on specific topics of interest.

Assessment methods

The assessment strategy of student performance will be discussed at the beginning of the course. It may include a combined evaluation of active participation, graded assignments during the course, workshop presentation and/or a final written exam. The students who cannot take part to the course are encouraged to get in touch with the teacher.

Teaching tools

The discussion will follow a set of slides prepared for the course. These will, in turn, refer to material available online in the form of working papers and reports distributed by international organizations, such as the World Bank.

Office hours

See the website of Paolo Zagaglia