Seminar: Economics of Culture and Institutions CANCELED

Course content

A large body of research shows that differences in the characteristics and the quality of institutions are fundamental to understand differences in economic outcomes in the short- and the long-run. A growing literature complements that idea by showing that cultural differences are also fundamental to understand different trajectories for economic and political outcomes. Recently, these two lines of research have been integrated in studies focused on the relationship between culture and insitutions, in particular on their interdependence and coevlution.


The purpose of this seminar is extending our understanding of (a) the direct roles that culture and institutions play for economic and political development, and (b) the interaction between different cultural and institutional characteristics for the development of different economic and political outcomes.


Therefore, students will write short empirical papers focused on any country or region of the world, and on a particular cultural or institutional issue, to estimate and analyze its impact for different economic or political outcomes. Examples of cultural aspects that can be studied in this seminar are: gender equality, generalized trust, collectivism and individualism, risk and uncertainty avoidance, long-term orientation, etc. Examples of instituional aspects are democracy, auticracy, corruption, the structure of markets, competition, contractual systems, property rights. Students in this seminar can also choose to make an empirical analysis of the interaction between culture and institutions. Finally, students can also opt to focus on an unexplored angle in the existing literature, or in the critical revision of existing studies.


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:


  • understand how does a particular cultural or institutional aspect, or their interaction, contribute to a given economic or political outcome,
  • estimate the size of that contribution and gauge its robustness and potential for generalization,
  • relate those results to existing studies on the topic;



  • design a research strategy to conduct empirical analysis on the economic or political impact of cultural and instituional features, or to further our understanding of the interaction between them,
  • interpret and evaluate the validity of empirical results in comparative research,



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

  • Alesina, Alberto and Paola Giuliano (2015), “Culture and Institutions.” Journal of Economic Literature 53(4): 898-944.
  • Alesina, Alberto, Paula Giuliano and Nathan Nunn (2013), “The Origin of Gender Roles, Women and the Plough.” Quarterly Journal of Economics 128(2): 469-530.
  • Gorodnichenko, Yurij and Gerard Roland (2017), “Culture, institutions and the wealth of nations.” Review of Economics and Statistics 99(3): 402-416.
  • Tabellini, Guido (2010), “Culture and Institutions: Economic Development in the Regions of Europe.” Journal of the European Economic Association 8(4): 677-716.
  • Tabellini, Guido (2008), “Institutions and Culture.” Journal of the European Economic Association 6(2/3): 255-294.
  • Lowes, Sara, Nathan Nunn, James A Robinson, and Jonathan Weigel (2017), “The Evolution of Culture and Institutions: Evidence from the Kuba Kingdom”. Econometrica 85(4): 1065-1091.
  • Moscona, Jacob, Nathan Nunn, and James A Robinson (2017), “Keeping it in the Family: Lineage Organization and the Scope of Trust in Sub-Saharan Africa”. American Economic Review 107(4).
  • Nunn, Nathan (2012), “Culture and the Historical Process.” Economic History of Developing Regions 27(S1): 108-126.
  • Nunn, Nathan, and Leonard Wantchekon (2011), “The Slave Trade and the Origins of Mistrust in Africa.” American Economic Review 101(7): 3221-3252.



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.

• Kick-off meeting: Tuesday September 4, 2018 at 13-14 in CSS 26-2-20
• Extra days of introducing teaching: Tuesday Sept 4 at 14-16 in CSS 26-2-20.
• Deadline commitmentpaper: In agreement with the lecturer and not later than 1st of October.
• Deadline of pre-paper uploaded to Absalon: appr. one week before presentations
• Presentations/Workshops: Week 45/46

7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Written examination
- 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