Understanding Economic Development

Discipline: Semester at Sea Seminars
Instructor: White
Credits: 3
Day: B
Start: 14:30
End: 15:45
Field Work: Day 1 | England Download Syllabus

This course focuses on one of the most significant recent events in the world economy – the inception of modern economic development. It starts by defining what is meant by modern economic development, with its self-sustaining element of continuing innovation, but its increasing stress on ecological systems. It analyzes the determinants of that economic development, whether proximate, that is inputs and technology as represented in the economist’s production function, or ultimate, the longer-term elements dealt with by economic historians, such as resources – seen in the context of the geography of the Eurasian land mass, Africa and the Americas; risk environments; culture or attitudes; the accumulation of human or social capital; and institutions. It considers growth episodes which occurred in the pre-modern period and emphasizes the poverty traps which prevented those episodes initiating modern economic development, notably the Malthusian trap, which reflects a continuing negative interaction between population, resources and the natural environment. The core emphasis is on the analytic narrative as an explanatory tool, combining economic theory and historical narrative, adopting a deliberately comparative approach. It considers the pioneer success of Europe, introducing the Industrial Revolution in Britain and the economic rise of the USA, in the context of the nature of a capitalist market system. It analyses the failure of an alternative, the Soviet economic model, which significantly influenced the pattern of economic development policy in Asia and Latin America, notably Cuba. It considers the slow development of the ‘Latin economies’, the lack of economic development in Africa and the ‘coming full circle’ – the temporary success of Europe between two periods of Asian economic dominance. Particular attention is paid to the late starter Japan and to five emerging economies (BRICS) – Brazil, Russia, China, India, and South Africa. It explores the implications of the economic rise of Asia and shows how the Asian capitalist market model differs from the European.

Special Requirements:
A previous economics or economic history course

Field Work

Country: England
Day: 1

The workshop is focused on a comparison of levels of achievement in economic development. It involves a visit to the prestigious School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London. During the bus journey to London I will brief the students on how to approach a theory of economic development from a comparative perspective and the kind of questions they need to have in mind in listening to the later talks. Prof. Ash will introduce the students to the kind of studies pursued at the School. After lunch the students will be addressed by Prof. Ash on the role of China in the Asian Economic Miracle. After a session of questions and answers they will be addressed by a second specialist from the London School of Economics, one on African economic development discussing the constraints on economic development in Africa.