Not available in 2020/21
GY308      Half Unit
The Economic Geography of Growth and Development

This information is for the 2020/21 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof Olmo Silva STC 5.06a


This course is available on the BA in Geography, BSc in Economic History and Geography, BSc in Economics, BSc in Environment and Development, BSc in Environmental Policy with Economics and BSc in Geography with Economics. This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit and to General Course students.

Course content

The course will introduce students to the framework and tools used by economists to study the processes of growth and development, and analyse its determinants. After a short discussion of the basic modelling framework, the course will focus on empirical aspects. First, it will discuss the drawbacks and failures of simple models in which technological change fully determines the rate of growth of a country or region. Then it will present a set of enriching ingredients, which will allow for a better understanding of why different countries and regions around the world are characterised by different stages of development. The presentation of the material will be structured around four main blocks: Human Capital, Education and Growth; the Information Technology Revolution; Trade and Globalization; and the New Institutional Paradigm. The course will close with a discussion of how the original framework worked out by economists back in ‘60s, coupled with new insights, provides a flexible tool to derive policy implications for growth and development.

Topics covered:

1. Stylized facts and a general economic framework for studying growth

2. Physical and human capital accumulation

3. Information and Communication Technologies (ICT), innovation and growth

4. Trade and globalization: their effects on growth and inequality

5. Institutions and growth


10 hours of lectures, 9 hours of classes and 2 hours of classes in the LT.

Students on this course will have a reading week in Week 6.

Formative coursework

Students will be expected to prepare for group discussion of some readings and hand in short essays. There is also a class debate (normally taking place in Week 9 during the students' assigned classes) where students are asked to work in small groups and deliver a presentation on an assigned debate topic.

Indicative reading

- Mankiw, G. (1995): “The Growth of Nations”, Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, vol. 1.

- Van Reenen, J. and B. Sianesi (2003): “The Returns to Education: A Review of the Empirical Macro-Literature”, IFS Working Paper WP02/05 (appendix material is optional).

- Wolf, A. (2004): “Education and Economic Performance: Simplistic Theories and their Policy Consequences”, Oxford Review of Economic Policy, vol. 20.

- Daveri, F. (2003): “Information technology and productivity growth across countries and sectors”, Chapter 5 in The New Economy Handbook, D. Jones (ed.), Elsevier Academic Press.

- Oliner, S. and D. Sichel (2000): “The resurgence of Growth in the Late 1990s: Is Information Technology the Story?”, Journal of Economic Perspectives, vol. 14.

- Autor, D., D. Dorn and G. Hanson (2012): “The China Syndrome: Local Labor Market Effects of Import Competition in the United States”, NBER Working Paper 18054.

- Frankel, J. and D. Romer (1999): “Does Trade Cause Growth?”, American Economic Review, vol. 89.

- Persson, T. and G. Tabellini (1994): “Is Inequality Harmful for Growth?”, American Economic Review, vol. 84.

- Rodrik, D., A. Subramanian and F. Trebbi (2004): “Institutions Rule: The Primacy of Institutions over Geography and Integration in Economic Development”, Journal of Economic Growth, vol. 9.

- Tabellini, G. (2010): “Culture and Institutions: Economic Development in the Regions of Europe”, Journal of the European Economics Association, vol. 8.


Exam (100%, duration: 2 hours) in the summer exam period.

Important information in response to COVID-19

Please note that during 2020/21 academic year some variation to teaching and learning activities may be required to respond to changes in public health advice and/or to account for the situation of students in attendance on campus and those studying online during the early part of the academic year. For assessment, this may involve changes to mode of delivery and/or the format or weighting of assessments. Changes will only be made if required and students will be notified about any changes to teaching or assessment plans at the earliest opportunity.

Key facts

Department: Geography & Environment

Total students 2019/20: 25

Average class size 2019/20: 13

Capped 2019/20: No

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Leadership
  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Problem solving
  • Application of information skills
  • Communication
  • Application of numeracy skills
  • Commercial awareness
  • Specialist skills