Seminar: Economic and Political Development in Latin America CANCELED

Course content

Latin America has left behind a long era of structural political instability and disappointing results in terms of economic development. Poverty has declined, and income distribution has become less unequal in almost every country during the last decades, essentially due to a combination of better macro performance and successful social policies for redistribution. Most of Latin American countries, though, still face important obstacles to consolidating this trend of progress, especially in terms of implementing necessary reforms in key areas like education, democracy and governance; and in closing still large inequality gaps in several areas.


The purpose of the seminar is getting a deeper understanding of these specific economic and political aspects of development in Latin America, with research that looks at different angles of development in this region and studies the precise mechanisms at work.


Participants can choose any topic as a frame for her or his individual paper. Examples are:

  • Government and democracy
  • History and institutions
  • Civil conflict and the state
  • Education
  • Health
  • Economic growth and inequality
  • Impact evaluation and field experiments
  • Culture
  • Growth diagnostics


MSc programme in Economics

The seminar is primarily for students at the MSc of Economics

Learning outcome

Additional for the learning outcome specified in the Curriculum, the student should after completing the seminar be able to:


  • identify relevant economic and political aspects for the process of development in general, and for economic and political development Latin America in particular,
  • gauge the contribution of these aspects to the overall process of development.



  • design a research strategy to conduct empirical analysis on economic or political development,
  • interpret and evaluate the validity and robustness of results of empirircal research,
  • relate the results to existing research on the topic.



  • communicate effectively the results of own empirical analysis and theoretical argumentation in the context of an academic discussion,
  • incorporate suggestions received from external revisions of one’s own work,
  • provide constructive criticism to others’ work.

Kick-off meeting, research and writing process of the seminar paper, sessions with presentation of own paper and critical evaluation/feedback to another student´s paper, actively participating in discussions at class.

Before the session a "so-finalized-as-possible"-version of the paper must be uploaded in Absalon. After the presentations, the student submit an edited version of the paper in the Digital Exam portal as the final exam paper. The aim is that students use the presentation sessions as an opportunity to receive and use the constructive feedback to improve the paper.

History and institutions

  • Dell, Melissa (2010), “The Persistent Effects of Peru's Mining Mita”. Econometrica 78(6): 1863-1903.
  • Acemoglu, Daron, and James A. Robinson (2008), “The Persistence and Change of Institutions in the Americas”. Southern Economic Journal 75(2), 282–299.


Civil conflict and the state

  • Dube, Oeindrila, and Juan Vargas (2013), “Commodity Price Shocks and Civil Conflict: Evidence from Colombia”. Review of Economic Studies 80(4): 1384-1421.
  • Acemoglu, Daron, James A. Robinson and Rafael J. Santos (2009), “The Monopoly of Violence: Evidence from Colombia”. Mimeo, Harvard University.
  • United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (2010), “The destabilizing influence of drug trafficking on transit countries: The case of cocaine”. Ch. 3 in World Drug Report 2010. UN Publications, New York.


Government and democracy

  • Baland, Jean-Marie, and James A. Robinson (2008), “Land and Power: Theory and Evidence from Chile”. American Economic Review 98(5), 1737-1765.
  • Chang, Roberto, Constantino Hevia and Norman Loayza (2010), “Privatization and Nationalization Cycles”, NBER Working Paper No. 16126.
  • Scartascini, Carlos, Ernesto Stein and Mariano Tommasi (eds., 2010), “How Democracy Works: Political Institutions, Actors, and Arenas in Latin American Policymaking”. IADB and David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies, Harvard University.



  • Urquiola, Miguel, and Eric Verhoogen (2009), “Class size caps, sorting, and the regression- discontinuity design”.  American Economic Review 99(1), 179-215.
  • Calderón, Valentina, and Miguel Urquiola (2006), “Apples and oranges: Educational enrollment and attainment across countries in Latin America and the Caribbean”. International Journal of Educational Development 26: 572-590.
  • Urquiola, Miguel (2006), “Identifying class size effects in developing countries:  Evidence from rural Bolivia.” Review of Economics and Statistics 88(1), 171-177.
  • Hsieh, Chang-Taim, and Miguel Urquiola (2006), “The effects of generalized school choice on achievement and stratification: Evidence from Chile's school voucher program.”  Journal of Public Economics 90, 1477-1503.


Impact evaluation and field experiments

  • Karlan, Dean, Margaret McConnelly, Sendhil Mullainathanz and Jonathan Zinmanx (2010), “Getting to the Top of Mind: How Reminders Increase Saving”. Mimeo, Yale University.
  • Karlan, Dean, and Jonathan Morduch (2009), “Access to Finance”. Ch. 2 in Handbook of Development Economics, vol. 5, Dani Rodrik and Mark Rosenzweig, eds.


Growth diagnostics

  • Rodrik, Dani (2010), “Diagnostics before Prescription.” Journal of Economic Perspectives 24(3): 33-44.
  • Velasco, Andrés (2008), “Why Doesn’t Latin America Grow More, and What Can We Do About It?” Working Paper 2008-0115, Weatherhead Center for International Affairs, Harvard University.
  • Hausmann, Ricardo, Dani Rodrik and Andrés Velasco (2008), “Growth Diagnostics”, in J. Stiglitz and N. Serra, eds., The Washington Consensus Reconsidered: Towards a New Global Governance, Oxford University Press, New York.


It is recommended that Development Economics has been followed before taking the seminar.

Students will benefit from having taken: Advanced Development Economics: Macro Aspects, Applied Econometric Policy Evaluation, and Economic History– but these courses are not requisites

BSc in Economics or similar
Simple regression analysis and instrumental variables from Econometrics I are requisites.


Autumn 2018:
• Kick-off meeting: Monday September 3, 2018, 13-14 in CSS 26-1-21B
• Extra days of introducing teaching: Monday Sept 3, 14-16 in CSS 26-1-21B
• Deadline commitmentpaper: In agreement with the lecturer and not later than 1st of October.
• Deadline of pre-paper uploaded to Absalon: One week before the presentations
• Presentations/Workshops: Week 45/46

7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Written assignment
- a seminar paper in English that meets the formal requirements for written papers stated in the curriculum of the Master programme and at KUNet for seminars.
All aids allowed


Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
External censorship
Criteria for exam assessment

Students are assessed on the extent to which they master the learning outcome for the seminar and can make use of the knowledge, skills and competencies listed in the learning outcomes in the Curriculum  of the Master programme.

To receive the top grade, the student must with no or only a few minor weaknesses be able to demonstrate an excellent performance displaying a high level of command of all aspects of the relevant material.

  • Category
  • Hours
  • Seminar
  • 20
  • Project work
  • 186
  • English
  • 206