75574 - Development Economics and Sustainability

Course Unit Page


This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.

No poverty Quality education Decent work and economic growth

Academic Year 2018/2019

Learning outcomes

The purpose of this course is to enable students to rigorously analyse the complex relationship between growth, development and the supporting resource base. Students will be led to analytically assess the possibility and consequences of decreasing returns on living standards and welfare. Although theoretical and general, formal analysis will be complemented by historical reference to acquire a methodological approach relating abstract analysis to actual historical record. Mathematical methods will be used to deal with innovation-led growth but the implicit costs in terms of pollution will be carefully considered. Students will learn that environmental policies are an essential part of the process of development. It will be shown that pollution abatement methods are to be fully considered in the economy’ production core and as crucial determinants of the overall rate of growth. It is an object of the course to shed light on the implicit race between increasing productivity and decreasing returns to natural resources suggesting that, in the long run, the race has no apparent winner.

Course contents

Learning outcomes

The course introduces students to the main issues in sustainable economic development. In particular, students will learn what the main facts of economic growth are; why poverty in some countries persists; why countries are at different stages of economic development; why some countries converge in terms of income per capita and why some others diverge; how to combine economic development and environmental sustainability.


              1. Development and sustainability: questions and issues (Sachs, 2015)

              2. From stagnation to growth (Galor, 2005)

              3. Poverty traps (Gahtak, 2015 and Matsuyama, 2011)

              4. Convergence and Divergence (Aghion, Howitt, 2009, ch 7 and Jones, 2016)

              5. Growth and the environment (Aghion, Howitt, 2009, ch 16)


              Aghion, Philippe and Peter Howitt, 2009. The Economics of Growth. MIT Press.

              Galor, Oded, 2005, From Stagnation to Growth: Unified Growth Theory, Handbook of Economic Growth, 2005, 171-293

              Galor, Oded and David N. Weil, 2000, Population, Technology and Growth: From Malthusian Stagnation to the Demographic Transition and Beyond, American Economic Review, 90, 806-828

              Ghatak, Maitreesh, 2015, Theories of Poverty Traps and Anti-Poverty Policies, World Bank Economic Review, 29, S77-S105

              Jones, I. Charles, 2016. The facts of Economic Growth. Forthcoming, Handbook of Macroeconomics 2A, Ch1.

              Matsuyama, Kiminori, 2011, Imperfect Credit Markets, Household Wealth Distribution, and Development, Annual Review of Economics, 3, 339-362.

              Sachs, Jeffrey D., 2015. The Age of Sustainable Development. Columbia University Press.


              Links to papers and books will be available through the e-learning webpage

              Teaching methods

              Traditional lectures. Slides will be available in the e-learning web page.

              Assessment methods

              Grading (out of 30) will be as follows:

              • 50% Written test (essay) on topics discussed during lectures
              • 50% presentation and research project

              Presentation: Students should choose one of the topics discussed during lectures (i.e. Unified growth theories - demographic transition; poverty traps; convergence - divergence; growth and the environment) and present a paper published in a leading economic journal. The presentation should conclude with a research proposal. The research project, to be handed in at a later date, should be 2/3 pages long and contain the following: background, research question and methodology (data sources and model).

              Office hours

              See the website of Rainer Andergassen