Introduction to Economic Growth: Why are Some Countries Richer than Others?

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Course DatesLengthMeeting TimesStatusFormatInstructor(s)CRN
July 19, 2021 - August 18, 20217/19 - 8/184 WeeksOnlineWaitlistedOnlineAlexander Yarkin

Course Description

This course explores the vast inequalities in well-being and economic development across the world and discusses various explanations for why certain places and populations are richer than others.

The richest countries in the world today are as much as 60 times more prosperous in terms of incomes per capita than their poorest counterparts. Other living standards vary enormously as well: in 35 countries, less than half of the population has access to electricity (in 2019!); and life expectancy is below 50 in some of the poorest areas. What can explain these inequalities? Many of the poorer countries are knee-deep in civil conflicts, corruption, and despotic governance… but are these the cause or the consequence of underdevelopment (or maybe both)? What mechanisms are behind the long-run accumulation of capital, knowledge, and ideas that make some countries richer? And what are the “deep-rooted” determinants behind prosperity? For example, what is the role of geography? What is the role of culture: our social norms, beliefs, and behavioral practices? Or do formal institutions, such as the democratic government and the rule of law, decide the game? Along the way of exploring the questions outlined above, this course will: (i) expose students to the huge and rapidly growing field of economic growth, (ii) present some of the key models of long-run economic development that illustrate and illuminate the main reasons for why the world looks the way it does today, and (iii) outline some of the most widely used methods of data analysis that are used nowadays to better understand the issues and prospects of economic development.

Prerequisites: High school algebra required; some familiarity with probability and statistics recommended; high school / AP Economics is a plus, but not required

Course Information

  • Course Code: CEEC0940

Program Information


Brown’s Pre-College Program in the liberal arts and sciences for students completing grades 9-12 by June 2021.

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