Advanced Development Economics - Macro Aspects

Course content

The course covers three broad themes:

Theme 1. The historical origins of comparative development

Accounting for the vast income differences we see across countries today requires a comprehensive understanding of the historical characteristics of the development process,  and of the differential timing of the take­off to sustained growth (or the Industrial Revolution that took place about two centuries ago in the Western world) in particular. Given that not all countries have embarked on a trajectory of sustained growth at the same time, and that some countries have not even taken-off to a path of sustained development yet, visible gaps in income and productivity have emerged in the course of history. This has essentially shaped the contemporary pattern of comparative development that we aim to study in this course. Therefore, in the first lectures will discuss the forces that have kept economies in a state of stagnation for the bulk of human history and, by extension, how economies are ultimately released from stagnation.

Theme 2. Fundamental determinants of productivity

2A. Climate and geography

2B. Culture

2C. Institutions

In this part of the cours we ask why haven’t all countries taken off at the same time? Or, put differently, why did the Industrial Revolution not diffuse rapidly across the world as a whole? Why do some countries that have taken­off, have not managed to catch­up? And why have many countries have still not taken off yet?

At the proximate level, answers by existing growth models (such as the Solow­Swan model and extensions) suggest that some countries have simply not been able to accumulate enough (physical and human) capital, adopt new ideas and technologies, and ensure a high degree of macro efficiency as others. But then again, why is that? If policy is part of the story, why do some countries apparently impose growth hampering policies? If low savings are part of an answer, why do citizens of some countries display more "thriftiness" and willingness to save than citizens of other countries? Etc.

This part of the course relies on a recent body of research that seeks an answer in aspects related to climate/geography, culture, and Institutions, understood as countries’ fundamental dimensions or characteristics. Differences in these three broad dimensions are critical in understanding both the differential timing of the take­off and the post take­off different economic trajectories that countries embark on during their path to development.

Our study and discussion of the existing literature in this part of the course will also reveal questions that have played out an important role in the macro discussion of development, and in many cases are still open and the subject of on­going research and debate. Examples of these questions are: Does greater longevity lead to higher income? Do cultural differences matter? Are the formal rules of the game of an economy (e.g.., property rights protection) important to growth once we take into account that the informal rules of the game differ across countries (e.g., social norms, values, cultural aspectds like generalized trust, differentlial valuation of skills and wealth, etc)?

Theme 3. Policy debates

By the end of the course we will explore recent or relevant policy debates about our main topic. Examples of these debates are the effectiveness of development policy tools like foreign aid, the role for active state intervention in the process of economic development, and the causes and consequences of income inequality in the developing world.


Learning outcome

After completing the course, the student should be able to:


  • Describe the global pattern of economic development, from a historical and a modern perspective.
  • Have a broad appreciation of important research literature relevant to the process of development in less advanced economies.
  • Understand theoretical models and arguments related to the topics in the contents of the course, and the empirical evidence accompanying them.



  • Identify and explain the causes of differences in the development path that different countries have followed, and relate them to fundamental drivers of economic development.
  • Provide the basic economic intuition behind central driving mechanisms in theoretical models.
  • Assess the capacity of theoretical models and arguments to generate testable predictions, and evaluate the correspondence between theoretical predictions and empirical evidence.



  • Appreciate some of the key debates in development economics, understand how they relate to contemporary policy issues, and discuss about the effectiveness of policies aimed to promote growth and economic development.
  • Apply our expertise as economists to understand and assess quantitative analysis carried out in the context of less developed regions.
  • Work effectively as a trained economist analyzing problems of less developed countries in an international organization, business environment, non­governmental organization, or governmental institution.


Three of the classes will include exercises, in which students will work individually and in groups, to further our analysis of specific topics or engage in discussion.

The readings for the course are book chapters, journal articles, and recent working papers. Accordingly, the precise content of the course, in terms of required readings, will vary from time to time. However, the reading list will cover the three broad themes explained in the content of the course consistently.

Development economics; long-run macro from Macroeconomics I; and simple regression analysis and instrumental variables from Econometrics I, are requisites.
Students will benefit from having taken Economic History and Applied Econometric Policy Evaluation – but these courses are not requisites.

2 hours lectures 1 to 2 times a week from week 36 to 50 (except week 42).

The overall schema for the Master can be seen at https:/​/​​economics_ma/​courses/​CourseCatalogue-E17/​Courseschema/​Pages/​default.aspx

Timetable and venue:
To see the time and location of lectures please press the link under "Se skema" (See schedule) at the right side of this page. E means Autumn.

You can find the similar information partly in English at
-Select Department: “2200-Økonomisk Institut” (and wait for respond)
-Select Module:: “2200-E17; [Name of course]””
-Select Report Type: “List – Weekdays”
-Select Period: “Efterår/Autumn – Weeks 31-5”
Press: “ View Timetable”

7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Written examination, 3 hours under invigilation
Individual closed-book exam at the computers of Copenhagen University.
The exam assignment is in English and must be answered in English.
Without aids
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
External censorship
if chosen by the Head of Studies.
Criteria for exam assessment

Students are assessed on the extent to which they master the learning outcome for the course.

To receive the top grade, the student must be able to demonstrate in an excellent manner that he or she has acquired and can make use of the knowledge, skills and competencies listed in the learning outcomes.

Single subject courses (day)

  • Category
  • Hours
  • Lectures
  • 42
  • Preparation
  • 161
  • Exam
  • 3
  • English
  • 206