Economic Growth and Development

SAM16 Economic Growth and Development

Autumn 2021

  • Topics

    We examine the strategies that different countries have used to maximize their advantages - and minimize their disadvantages - in order to generate economic growth and development. We use economic tools (theoretical and empirical) to structure our analysis. 

    Much of the first part of the course focuses on strategies to maximize the value of the national stock of human capital, taking the Philippines, Iceland and Singapore as case studies. 

    The second part of the course examines economic growth in China, India and Japan, particularly looking at the timing and nature of their economic acceleration and the challenges that they face in maintaining their high performance.

    The third part of the course focuses on institutions as both consequences of economic growth, and as a source of growth performance. It considers the role of inherited institutions - as in the cases of South Africa and Saudi Arabia - and the failure of formal institutions, in the form of corruption.

    The fourth part of the course considers how we can, and perhaps should, measure economic growth, taking into consideration the environment, health and well-being, as well as GDP.

  • Learning outcome


    Upon completion of the course, students will

    • have knowledge of different metrics of economic growth (such as GDP, TFP, green GDP, Human Development Index, "Happy Planet Index") and understand their pros and cons.
    • be able to discuss the different growth strategies pursued by various developing and developed countries.
    • be able to critically evaluate the central roles of human capital, natural resources, technology, capital and institutions in generating economic growth.


    Upon completion of the course, students will

    • be able to use the empirical and theoretical tool kit of economists to frame and analyze problems that we see in the world.
    • be able to critically analyze economic research papers on economic growth and development.

    General competence

    Upon completion of the course, students will

    • be able to participate in informed discussions of key challenges in securing economic growth, such as climate change, adapting to resource constraints, improving human capital and technology.

  • Teaching

    The course is structured around the analysis of Harvard Business School cases, which we typically do in real time in the classroom; normally, all students are expected to fully participate in every class and this is where much of the learning occurs. Students work in small groups to prepare for each class discussion beforehand, so that they are up to speed on the topic. Each week, every group member should read (at least) one of the items on the reading list and then discuss it with the rest of the group. In this way, all - or most - of the reading materials assigned each week will be covered by every group. The group can use this discussion to prepare their responses to the accompanying assignment questions, which we discuss in class. In the current situation, it may be necessary to swap a number of classroom sessions for recorded analysis of the case by the professor. In such instances, the professor will try to facilitate a discussion either in small groups (face-to-face with professor and students) or online meetings. The number of classroom versus recorded sessions must remain flexible to accommodate requirements of students (who may or may not be able to physically attend) and the evolving disease environment - neither of which can be known with certainty until the semester is under way.

  • Required prerequisites


  • Credit reduction due to overlap

    Overlap with VOA022

  • Requirements for course approval

    Students must participate (i.e. speak) regularly in class in order to be eligible to take the exam.

  • Assessment

    The students are graded based on a 3-hour written home exam.

    All answers must be written in English.

  • Grading Scale

    Grading scale A - F

  • Computer tools


  • Literature

    First, each week's class discussion will revolve around a Harvard Business School case; the case collection should therefore be purchased by the students, using the link to the course pack on the Harvard Business School Publishing website. Second, the cases will be supplemented each week by a selection of research papers that are downloadable from the web.

    Required readings:

    The collection of Harvard Business School cases; the associated research papers.


ECTS Credits
Teaching language

Spring. Offered Spring 2021.

Course responsible

Professor Liam Brunt, Department of Economics.