Political Economy and Economic Development

Explore why and how political institutions affect economic development, and apply key theories and empirical techniques to real-world examples ranging from voting and corruption to the role of the media.

start date
September 6, 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 class, we will study some of the key theoretical and empirical ideas for why and how politics and institutions affect economic development. We will also look at a variety of empirical examples drawn from throughout the developing world.

We have three basic goals for this class:

  • Build a foundation for critical thinking about the role of political economy in understanding economic development.
  • Understand some core theoretical concepts in political economy, with illustrations from developing countries.
  • Understand empirical evidence in economics. What makes a good empirical study? How do we learn about the world empirically? What are some of the techniques we can use to better understand the world?

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

  • Key theories and concepts in political economy and their application to studying economic development.
  • Evidence from recent studies on the role of politics and institutions in economic development, and how to interpret their findings.
  • Empirical techniques and econometric tools to study political economy and development.
  • Data analysis using the software R.

Prerequisites

Basic understanding of statistics and familiarity with microeconomics will be helpful for this course. There are no prerequisites, but you may find it helpful to take 14.100x (Microeconomics) and 14.310x (Data Analysis for Social Scientists) before this course.

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.

  • 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.