Ideas to Action:

Independent research for global prosperity

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The goal of this course is to better understand the microeconomic foundations of development issues in poor countries, with a particular focus on sub-Saharan Africa. The course will first focus on microeconomic theory as a framework for analyzing households’ and policymakers’ behavior. We will then review the empirical methods that can be used to understand such behavior, to develop individual and institutional-level interventions, and to evaluate the impact of such interventions.

The course will first focus on the microeconomic foundations of household-level decision-making behavior in low-income countries. We will then discuss issues that constrain and support development: risks and shocks, labor and human capital, risk and vulnerability; social networks, learning and technology adoption’ human capital (education and health), markets (including land, labor, credit and information); and institutions and conflict. For each topic, we will take a twofold approach: using the theory to analyze behavior and outcomes, and then using empirical tools to make (or evaluate) policy recommendations.

This course is complementary to EIB E241, but is different in two ways. First, it will rely primarily upon the examination of empirical research papers by academic economists, in an effort to understand more about the challenges and methods and value of good empirical research. Second, the course discusses the way in which an academic approach to development economics can be used to complement and improve practical field projects, and vice versa.