In this course, students examine the challenges and opportunities of national development. Following Lant Pritchett, we define national development as the lockstep improvement in (i) economic productivity, (ii) political representation, (iii) public sector’s administrative capacity, and (iv) respect for minority rights. In contrast to targeted or piece-meal policy interventions that strive to improve conditions in one sector or alleviate the poverty of a chosen group, the pursuit of national development promises sustained gains to the entire nation. And yet, national development is difficult to achieve, and advances in one dimension are often accompanied by setbacks in others.
The course is comprised of three modules. During the first module, we discuss the main differences between national development and poverty alleviation. We also conduct a series of data-driven, inductive exercises to help students understand how national development has been pursued over time and around the globe. Through this effort, we identify some of the most important models of development that have existed, and how their different parts fit together.
During the second module, we discuss six recent books (or soon-to-be published manuscripts) that present leading-edge analysis on some of the main themes covered during the first module, at a rate of one book per week. Each of these books examines one critical topic –public health, primary education, rule of law, public sector capacity, human capital, and business competitiveness and labor standards – and is rooted in the experience of one key country or region –China, India, Brazil, Egypt, US, Germany and France. After reading each book, we discuss and critique its main premises, data & methods, conclusion, and policy implications. We also discuss how the insights it generates might change our own views on the challenges and opportunities of national development.
During the third module, students present and discuss their own papers or research proposals on themes that intersect with the topics discussed in the course.