Brandeis academic calendar (spring 2007)



Jan. 15    Introduction and overview


Jan. 17     Measuring economic growth and development


                  Required readings:

                    > Perkins Chapter 1, Chapter 2 (excluding p.41-45), browse thru, pay attention to graphs                        and tables.

                    > Nominal vs. PPP

                         "Measuring Economies." Economist Magazine, May 27, 2004. (on WebCT)

                    > Shortcomings of traditional GDP measurement

                         Stiglitz, Joseph. "Good Numbers Gone Bad." Fortune, October 2006.(also on WebCT)           


Jan.24     A brief history of economic growth and development

                                Required readings:

                                   > Perkins Chapter 2, p.41-45 and Chapter 3, p. 60-62.

                                   On "great divergence"

                                       > "The Road to Riches." Economist Magazine, Millennium ed., 1999.

                                       > "Imperial China Fell Prey to A Lack of Pluralism." Financial Times, Sept. 17, 2003.


                                Optional readings:

                                   >On "great divergence"

                                      Brad DeLong's review on book "Great Divergence" by Ken Pomeranz, 2000.

                                   On the question "Is economic growth desirable?"

                                      > "Happiness and Economics." Economist Magazine, Dec. 19, 2006. (WebCT)

                                      > "Happiness (and how to measure it)." Economist Magazine, Dec. 19, 2006. (WebCT)


Jan.29     Economic methodology and the framework of economic analysis

                               Required readings:

                                   >On "understanding incentives"

                                      Levitt Chapter 1, free online version (very fun to read)

                                                 Background reading on Steven Levitt and his "Freakonomics" (optional, read it if you                                                  want to know more about the book and the author)

                                   >On "What distinguishes economic approach?"

                                     Becker, G. "The Economic Approach to Human Behavior" in Becker, G. The Economic                                     Approach to Human Behavior, 3-14. Chicago: U. of Chicago Press, 1976. (on WebCT, difficult                                     reading, be prepared to ask questions)


                               Optional readings:

                                  > Friedman, M. "The Methodology of Positive Economics" in Friedman, M. Essays in Positive                                     Economics, 3-43. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1966.  (difficult reading, browse, get                                     basic idea)                    


Jan.31     Basic theories of economic growth I: Harrod-Domar (HD) model

                                 Required readings:

                                  > Perkins Chapter 4 (p.103-117)

                                  > Easterly Chapter 2    


                                 Optional readings:

                                  > "The Economics of Saving: The shift away from thrift." Economist Magazine, April 7, 2005.

                                      (on WebCT, quite difficult reading, totally optional)                                  


Feb. 5     Basic theories of economic growth II: Solow growth model

                                Required readings:

                                  > Perkins Chapter 4, p.117-133.

                                  > Easterly Chapter 3, p.47-54 (able students are encouraged to read the entire chapter)


                                 Optional readings:

                                  More on development aid:

                                  > Online debate between Easterly and British Cabinet Minister for Aid   


Feb. 7     Quiz #1 (covers materials from Jan.22 to Jan. 31, inclusive)

                Extension of growth theory: Endogenous growth model

                                Required readings:

                                   > Easterly Chapter 4

                                  > "Counting Heads." Economist Magazine, August 26, 2004. (on WebCT)


Feb.12    Outside Speaker: Dr. Mohamed Bakarr, World Agroforestry Center, Nairobi, Kenya.

                                detailed info on his talk



              Feb. 19    NO CLASS

              Feb. 21    NO CLASS


              Feb. 26    Review of growth theories

                                Required readings:

                                  > "The Growth of Growth Theory." Economist Magazine, May 18, 2006. (on WebCT)


              Feb. 28    First Mid-term exam (covers materials up to Feb. 5, inclusive)


Mar. 5      Population theory and the role of labor

                               Required readings:

                                  > Perkins Chapter 5 (p.237-263)

                                  > "Does Population Matter." Economist Magazine, Dec. 5, 2002. (on WebCT)

                               Optional readings:

                                  > Malthus on population, the original excerpts . (Pay attention to the highlights in red)

                                  > Easterly Chapter 5


Mar. 7     Basic theories of economic development: Lewis two-sector migration model

                               Required readings:

                                  > Perkins Chapter 16 (p. 607-614) and Chapter 18 (p.685-693)

                                  > Spence, Michael. "Why China Grows So Fast ."Wall Street Journal, Jan. 23, 2007. (on WebCT)


Mar. 12   Basic theories of economic development (continued)

                               Required readings:

                                  > Easterly Chapter 8: Tales of Increasing Returns

                               Helpful links:

                                  > Notes on Big-push theory

                                  > Easterly on Africa's poverty trap and big-push



Mar. 14   How to establish counterfactuals

                &  Inequality and economic development                

                               Required readings:

                                  > Levitt Chapter 4 (Read it carefully)

                                  > Perkins Chapter 6: Inequality and Poverty (Browse thru very quickly)

                               Helpful links:


                                              Gini World Distribution Map

                                              Gini World Trend Time Series

                                              World Income Distribution Time Series

                                     OECD countries:

                                             Lorenz curve example

                                             A deep look at American income distribution

                                             Top decile income share: various, Sweden

                                             Top percentile income share OECD

                                             Average Income Tax by country


Mar. 19   Quiz #2 (covers materials from Solow model to March 14, inclusive)

                 Economic systems and development

                               Required readings:

                                  > Perkins Chapter 5: States and Markets

                                  > Easterly Chapter 11: Governments Can Kill Growth

                                  > Friedman on government spending

                                  > Smith on the limited roles of government

                               Helpful links:

                                  > Why Germany is losing skilled workers?

                                  > A brief report on European labor markets


Mar. 21  Term paper prospectus due

               Economic systems and development (continued)

                               -PBS video: Commanding Heights ---The Battle of Ideas (1:15)

                               - Recommended reading:

                                 >Phelps, Edmund. "Entrepreneurial Culture". Wall Street Journal, Feb. 12, 2007.


Mar. 26  Democracy and economic development

                               Required readings:

                                  > Williamson, Oliver. "The New Institutional Economics: Taking Stock, Look Ahead". Journal of                                      Economic Literature, Sept. 2000, pp. 595-613. (on WebCT) (for exam purpose, just read                                      section 1 and 2).                                    


                                  >"Poverty and the Ballot Box: Why are poor democracies not better at ending poverty?"                                       Economist Magazine, May 12, 2005. (on WebCT)


Mar. 28  Second session review

               More on inequality, government, democracy and political institutions


              Apr. 2    NO CLASS

              Apr. 4    NO CLASS

              Apr. 9    NO CLASS


Apr. 11  2nd Mid-term exam


Apr. 16  Legal institutions and development: The role of property rights


               Required readings:     

               > Hernando de Soto. "The Mystery of Capital". Finance & Development, March 2001.  


Apr. 18  Financial institutions and development

                               Required readings:

                                  > "China's and India's Financial Systems: A Barrier to Growth". McKinsey Quarterly, Nov. 2006.


Apr. 23 Environment and economic development                

                               Required readings:

                                  > Perkins Chapter 20, pp. 757-787.

                                  >"Economic Man, Cleaner Planet". Economist Magazine, Sept. 27, 2001. (on WebCT)


                               Optional readings (recommended for those who write on this topic in term paper):

                                  >"Rescuring environmentalism". Economist Magazine, Apr. 21, 2005.

                                  >"China Cashes In on Global Warming". Wall Street Journal, Jan. 8, 2007.

                                  >"The New Math of Alternative Energy". Wall Street Journal, Feb. 12, 2007.


Apr. 25  Term Paper Due

               Trade and economic development

                                Required readings:

                                  > Perkins Chapter 17

                                  > Spence, Michael. "What Drives High Growth Rates ."Wall Street Journal, Jan. 24, 2007.

                                       (on WebCT)

                                  > Prescott, Edward. "Competitive Cooperation." Wall Street Journal, Feb. 15, 2007. (WebCT)


                                Recommended reading:

                                  > "Pain From Free Trade Spurs Second Thoughts." Wall Street Journal, Mar. 28, 2007. (WebCT)


Apr. 30  Quiz #3 (covers materials from April 16 to Apr. 25)

               Religion and economic development            

  Required readings:

                     > "God, Man and Growth." Economist Magazine, Nov. 13, 2003.

                     > "Wealth from Worship." Economist Magazine, Dec. 20th, 2005.



May 2   Last Day of Class

             Frontier of development economics