Economic Growth and Inequality

Course content

The course is divided in seven lectures on economic growth and development, and global and local inequalities. Each lecture starts with a specific question combining these topics and looking at them from different angles: What is development? Why are some people and countries so rich and others so poor? Why are some of the economic inequalities so persistent over time? Does culture differences explain economic disparities? What role do institutions like property rights, democracy and the state play in shaping different patterns of economic growth and inequality? By the end of the course we discuss whether the international development community, foreign aid and social assistance are effective and sustainable to combat poverty and inequality. We address questions about causality throughout the course, asking for example whether institutions that protect personal liberties and property rights are a cause or a consequence of development. We also discuss the extent to which historical, cultural, geographic and climatic factors correlating with development and inequalities can explain these phenomena. In these discussions, we explore solutions with the potential to contribute to more sustainable development and less inequalities, and compare their strengths and weaknesses.


The course studies these issues combining an economic approach focusing on quantitative macro-analysis at the international level, with an anthropological approach focusing on qualitative micro-analysis at the infra-national level. The course is therefore organized in weekly lectures and group exercises to train students in (a) quantitative and qualitative data analysis for development, (b) critical review of the existing literature, and (c) writing short critical essays and reports on data analysis about topics covered in the course.


MSc programme in Global Development

Learning outcome

By the end of the course the students will be able to:



  • Describe global and local patterns of economic growth and inequality, in a modern and a historical perspective.

  • Explain the reasons behind the large and persistent differences in economic outcomes across and within countries, using different approaches.



  • Build an argument about the drivers of economic development and inequality combining both quantitative and qualitative data.

  • Relate economic growth and inequality to societal processes such as cultural change, legal institutionalization, and democratization, using both quantitative and qualitative approaches.



  • Assess the fairness, efficiency and/or sustainability of development solutions from a global and a local perspective, using appropriate methodologies.

  • Apply knowledge of quantitative and qualitative research methods to conduct empirical analysis in less developed countries.

The course will consist of one weekly lecture and one weekly exercise class during 7 weeks. During the lectures, economics and anthropology lecturers will engage with ‘the question of the week’, presenting different points of view on the specific topic and setting the floor for a debate. During the exercises, the focus will alternate on quantitative analysis (led by the economics lecturer), qualitative analysis (led by the anthropologist lecturer) and critical debate (led by both lecturers).

Students are required to do the readings before each lecture and come prepared to actively participate in class and exercises. Students will receive 6 assignments, and will be required to upload present, and discuss them. Students should be ready to provide constructive feedback to their classmates, and will also receive feedback from teachers, teaching assistants and other students will. By the end of the course, students will be required to choose freely and upload 2 out of the 6 assignments they handed in during the semester, in a revised version. The set of these 2 revised assignments will constitute the portfolio of exercises that will be graded.

The course is aimed at 2nd semester MSc students at the Global Development program; and students that have passed basic econometric and development economics courses at the level of a 1st year master’s program in Economics, or courses in anthropological theory, methodology and analysis at the level of the 1st year master’s program in Anthropology. Erasmus/exchange students who have a bachelor degree in Economics, Anthropology, Sociology, Geography, or Political Science may also apply.

7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Individual portfolio of 2 assignments, combining quantitative and qualitative analysis on selected topics covered in the course. These 2 assignments are revised versions of 2 out of the 6 assignments that each student has worked in throughout the course, that have been freely selected from the set of 6 assignments, and that have been individually revised based on feedback received throughout the course. 7-point grading scale. All aids allowed. Internal evaluation
All aids allowed
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship
Criteria for exam assessment

See 'Learning outcome'

  • Category
  • Hours
  • Lectures
  • 21
  • Seminar
  • 17
  • Preparation
  • 132
  • Exam
  • 40
  • English
  • 210