Foundations of Development Policy

This course provides a deeper dive into how to design and evaluate effective policies to improve the lives of the poor. In this class, students will delve into cutting-edge research and learn more about how to design effective experiments.

start date
May 31, 2022
length
Estimated 11 weeks
effort
12–14 hours per week

About this course

This course is part of the MITx MicroMasters program in Data, Economics, and Development Policy (DEDP), which provides a path towards MIT’s Master’s in DEDP. To enroll in the courses, remain on this site and click the “enroll now” button. If you want to earn a certificate for the courses or start your path towards a MicroMasters program credential, please visit the MicroMasters portal after you enroll.

In this course, we will study the different facets of human development in topics such as education, health, gender, the family, land relations, risk, informal and formal norms, public policy, and institutions. While studying each of these topics, we will delve into the following questions:

  • What determines the decisions of poor households in developing countries?
  • What constraints are poor households subject to?
  • What is the scope for policy interventions (implemented by the government, international organizations, or NGOs)?
  • What policies have been tried out? Have they been successful?

At the same time, you will discover modern empirical methods in economics, in particular Randomized Control Trials (RCTs). Throughout the course, we will expose you to all facets of empirical projects, from experimental design and ethical issues, to data collection and data analysis. You will have the chance to gain experience working with real data using software for statistical analysis during weekly assignments.

Course Previews:

Our course previews are meant to give prospective learners the opportunity to get a taste of the content and exercises that will be covered in each course. If you are new to these subjects, or eager to refresh your memory, each course preview also includes some available resources. These resources may also be useful to refer to over the course of the semester.

A score of 60% or above in the course previews indicates that you are ready to take the course, while a score below 60% indicates that you should further review the concepts covered before beginning the course.

Please use this link to access the course preview.

What you’ll learn

  • Lessons from cutting edge research in development across a range of topics
  • How to build and apply economic models relevant to concrete development situations
  • How to design and conduct a randomized control trial to learn more about these questions
  • Data management and analysis using the software R

Prerequisites

  • Familiarity with high school calculus
  • Basic understanding of statistics or econometrics
  • Familiarity with introductory microeconomics

Meet your instructors

  • Abhijit Vinayak Banerjee

    Abhijit Banerjee is the winner of the 2019 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences. He was educated at the University of Calcutta, Jawaharlal Nehru University, and Harvard University. He is currently the Ford Foundation International Professor of Economics at MIT. Banerjee is a past president of the Bureau for Research in the Economic Analysis of Development, a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the Econometric Society, and has been a Guggenheim Fellow and an Alfred P. Sloan Fellow. He is the recipient of many awards, including the inaugural Infosys Prize in 2009, and has been an honorary advisor to many organizations including the World Bank and the government of India.

  • Esther Duflo

    Esther Duflo is the winner of the 2019 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences. She is also the Abdul Latif Jameel Professor of Poverty Alleviation and Development Economics in the Department of Economics at MIT. She was educated at the Ecole Normale Supérieure, in Paris, and at MIT. She has received numerous honors and prizes including a John Bates Clark Medal for the best American economist under 40 in 2010, a MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship in 2009. She was recognized as one of the best eight young economists by The Economist magazine, one of the 100 most influential thinkers by Foreign Policy since the list exists, and one of the “Forty under 40” most influential business leaders under forty by Fortune magazine in 2010.

    To learn more, please click here.

  • Benjamin Olken

    Benjamin Olken is a Professor of Economics at MIT. His research focuses on political economy and public sector issues in developing countries, with a particular interest in corruption. He is a faculty Director of the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab at MIT, Co-Scientific Director of the Lab’s Southeast Asia office in Jakarta, and Co-Chair of the Lab’s Governance Initiative. Olken received his BA _summa cum laude _as a double-major in Mathematics and Ethics, Politics, and Economics from Yale University in 1997, and his Ph.D. in Economics from Harvard University in 2004. In 1997-1998 he was a Henry Luce Scholar, living in Jakarta, Indonesia. He joined the MIT faculty as a tenured faculty member in 2008, directly after a three-year term as a Junior Fellow of the Harvard Society of Fellows and a one-year post-doctoral fellowship at the NBER.