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 where students work with (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.


Full-degree students enrolled at the Faculty of Social Science, UCPH 

  • Master Programme in Social Data Science
  • Master Programmes in Anthropology
  • Master Programmes in Sociology
  • Master programme in Global Development
  • Master Programmes in Economics
  • Master Programe in Political Science


This course will be offered for the last time in the spring semester of 2024.

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, combining different perspectives from both micro economic and anthropological 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
Type of assessment details
Type of assessment details -- Individual portfolio of 2 assignments on selected topics covered in the course. These 2 assignments are individually revised versions of 2 group assignments (one qualitative and one quantitative) that the students have worked on throughout the course. 7-point grading scale. All aids
allowed. Internal evaluation
Exam registration requirements

To take part in the examination, students are requried to hand in 2 group assignments (one qualitative and one quantitative) throughout the course.

All aids allowed
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship

If you fail an examination, you will be allowed two more attempts to pass the relevant course. The first re-examination will typically be scheduled immediately following the semester (February/August). The second re-examination will typically be scheduled in the following exam period.

In order to contact to sign up for the re-exam please contact Ulla Andersen, You must sign up no later than 14 days before the re-exam date.

On special occasions the reexam can consist of a written assignment

Criteria for exam assessment

See 'Learning outcome'

Single subject courses (day)

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


Course number
7,5 ECTS
Programme level
Full Degree Master

1 block

See weekplan
Study Board for Global Development
Contracting department
  • Department of Anthropology
  • Department of Political Science
  • Social Data Science
  • Department of Sociology
  • Department of Economics
Contracting faculty
  • Faculty of Social Sciences
Course Coordinator
  • Atreyee Sen   (11-497c7a6d816d6d365b6d764869767c707a7736737d366c73)

Henrik Hansen

Saved on the 02-02-2024

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