Comparative Development, Institutions and Demography

Course description
The course covers topics in the broad area of long-term comparative development. The goal is to bring students to get a critical understanding of the state-of-art theoretical and empirical literature in selected topics that are subject to important ongoing debates on the deep roots of long-term development.

A non- comprehensive list of research topics covered by the course include:

  1. Political institutions, and particular democracy, and development.
  2. Long-Term demographic dynamics and the Demographic Transition;
  3. The Legacy of Culture and Historical Institutions;
  4. Health, Epidemic Diseases and Civil Conflicts;
  5. Measurement of Pre-industrial Data on Political History.
  6. The use of spatially-disaggregated data for empirical analysis of development;
  7. Quantitative Analysis of Long-Term Development: Unified Growth Theories and Quant-Spatial Models

There is no textbook. The topics will be covered by reading published or unpublished research articles. Each year only a selected set of topics will be covered. The selection of the topic reflects the evolution of the literature but also the research interests and prospective projects of the students that enrol in the course (this is done talking to the students interested in taking the course some time in advance). Students potentially interested in following the course are warmly encouraged to get in contact with the instructor and have a chat.

Participation to the course does not require any prior knowledge of the field, but a basic background econometrics is needed to read and understand the published papers. Depending on the specific topics covered some understanding of the basics theoretical frameworks or spatial econometrics can be useful.

Teaching methods
Presentation and discussion of selected papers. Particular attention will be devoted to understand the factual contribution of a paper at the time of its publication and to specific methodological aspects of the papers. All students are expected to carefully read all required papers.

Assessment methods

In-class participation: 30% of the final mark. Individual or group presentation of research papers: 70% of the final mark.

The reading list will be distributed at the beginning of the course (depending on the covered topic).