Module description: Selected Topics in Economics of Growth: Theory and Applications

Module name

Selected Topics in Economics of Growth: Theory and Applications

Credit points

5 ECTS credits


Master Seminar (2 hours/week): 5 ECTS

Mandatory assistance


Teaching Staff

Dr. Kateryna Khorkhordina

Module Coordinator

Dr. Kateryna Khorkhordina


This course covers selected topics in economic growth. In the first classes, basic models of economic growth as well as their empirical applications are examined. Each participant of the course works on an assigned topic focusing on one of the central questions of economic growth, including empirics for growth and income distribution, directed technological change, the linkages between growth and trade, education, human capital, culture, financial sector, institutions etc., as well as some of the implications of economic growth on health and the environment. Each session of the course starts with a short discussion of the paper marked as a “must” reading for all participants, proceeding with individual presentations. After corresponding presentation, each participant has four weeks to write his or her paper on specific individual research question to be discussed with course instructor.

Learning objectives and skills

This seminar aims for students to critically analyse central questions of economic growth. The focus is both on theoretical and policy-oriented knowledge.

Subject-specific skills:

  • Students learn about various theoretical models of economic growth, critically analyse their implications and impacts on various factors.
  • Students reflect on how these models apply to empirics for growth.
  • Students learn about different linkages, as well as implications of growth and reflect on current controversies around empirics for growth.

Learning and methodological skills:

  • Students carry out research projects independently, using a wide range of instruments for research methods.
  • Students plan and implement stages of work for their independent project, selecting a topic that suits their interests and expertise.
  • Students write a research paper adhering to academic writing requirements.

Personal skills:

  • Students reflect critically on current growth related issues, e.g. drivers of and barriers to growth, and the controversies around growth policy.
  • Students evaluate their own strengths and weaknesses in relation to policymaking.

Social skills:

  • Students engage actively by asking questions and clearly communicating their points of view and arguments.
  • Students engage with fellow classmates in exchanging different points of view on various topics.
  • Students work in small groups for joint presentations to reflect critically on current growth related issues.



Integration in curriculum

Second semester (summer semester).

Module compatibility

Master program “Development Economics and International Studies”: Elective module or elective complementary module

Method of examination

Written assignment (ca. 15 pages), presentation (45 minutes)

Grading procedure

  • Written assignment (67%)
  • Presentation (33%)

Module frequency

Yearly (summer term)

Resit examinations

Failed exams can be retaken twice.


  • Class time: 30 hours
  • Study time: 120 hours


1 semester

Teaching and examination language


Recommended reading

  • Caselli, F. (2005): Accounting for Cross-Country Income Differences, in: Aghion, P. and S. Durlauf (ed.), Handbook of Economic Growth, ed. 1, vol. 1, Ch. 9, 679-741, Elsevier.
  • Jones, C. I. (2015): Pareto and Piketty: The Macroeconomics of Top Income and Wealth Inequality, Journal of Economic Perspectives, 29(1): 29-46.
  • Firebaugh, G. (2000): The Trend in Between-Nation Income Inequality, in: Annual Review of Sociology, Vol. 26 (2000), 323-339.
  • Jones, C. I. (1997): On the Evolution of the World Income Distribution, Journal of Economic Perspectives vol. 11, 19-36.
  • Dollar, D. and A. Kraay (2004): Trade, Growth, and Poverty, Economic Journal, 114, F22-F49.
  • Rodríguez, F. and D. Rodrik (2000): Trade Policy and Economic Growth: A Skeptic’s Guide to the Cross-National Evidence, NBER Macroeconomic Annual, eds. Ben Bernanke and Kenneth S. Rogoff, MIT Press for NBER, Cambridge, MA.
  • Ventura, J. (2005): A Global View of Economic Growth, in: Aghion, P. and S. Durlauf (ed.), Handbook of Economic Growth, ed. 1, vol. 1B, Ch. 22, 1419-1497, Elsevier.
  • Acemoglu, D. and J. Ventura (2002): The World Income Distribution, Quarterly Journal of Economics, 117, 659-694.
  • Gennaioli N., R. La Porta, F. Lopez-de-Silanes and A. Shleifer (2013): Human Capital and Regional Development, Quarterly Journal of Economics, vol. 128(1), 105-164.
  • Jones, B. F. (2014): The Knowledge Trap: Human Capital and Development Reconsidered.
  • Easterly, W. and R. Levine (2012): The European Origins of Economic Development, National Bureau of Economic Research, No. w18162.
  • Pritchett L. (2001): Where has all the education gone? In: World Bank Economic Review, 15 (3), 367-391.
  • Weil, D. N. (2014): Health and economic growth, in: Aghion, P. and S. Durlauf (ed.), Handbook of Economic Growth, vol. 2, Ch. 3, 623-682, Elsevier.
  • Acemoglu, D., Johnson, S. (2007): Disease and development: the effect of life expectancy on economic growth, Journal of Political Economy 115 (6), 925–985.
  • Behrman, J.R., Rosenzweig, M.R. (2004): Returns to birthweight, Review of Economics and Statistics 86 (2), 586–601.
  • Deaton, A.S. (2007): Height, health, and development, PNAS 104 (33), 13232–13237.
  • Hazan, M., Zoabi, H. (2006): Does longevity cause growth? A theoretical critique, Journal of Economic Growth, vol. 11, 363–376.
  • Herrendorf, B., R. Rogerson and Á. Valentinyi (2014): Growth and Structural Transformation, in: Aghion, P. and S. Durlauf (ed.), Handbook of Economic Growth, vol. 2, Ch. 6, 855-941, Elsevier.
  • Hsieh, C. and P. Klenow (2009): Misallocation and Manufacturing Productivity in China and India, Quarterly Journal of Economics 124, 1403-1448
  • Acemoglu, D. and M. Dell (2010): Productivity Differences Between and Within Countries, American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, 2:1, 169–188.
  • Diao, X., M. McMillan, and D. Rodrik (2017): The Recent Growht Boom in Developing Economies: A Structural Change Perspective, NBER Working Paper 23132, Cambridge, MA: National Bureau of Economic Research.
  • Aghion P., N. Bloom, R. Blundell, R. Griffith and P. Howitt (2005): Competition and Innovation: An Inverted-U Relationship, Quarterly Journal of Economics 120, 701-728.
  • Acemoglu D., G. Gancia and F. Zilibotti (2012): Competing Engines of Growth: Innovation and Standardization, Journal of Economic Theory, 147 (2), 570-601.
  • Helpman E. (1993): Innovation, Imitation and Intellectual Property Rights, Econometrica 61, 1247-1280.
  • Desmet, K. and E. Rossi-Hansberg (2012): Innovation in Space, American Economic Review, 102:3, 447-452
  • Acemoglu, Daron (2002): Directed Technical Change, Review of Economic Studies, 69, 781-810.
  • Acemoglu, Daron (2003): Labor- and Capital-Augmenting Technical Change, Journal of European Economic Association, 1, 1-37.
  • Acemoglu, Daron and Fabrizio Zilibotti (1997):  Was Prometheus Unbound by Chance? Risk Diversification and Growth, Journal of Political Economy, 105, 709-751.
  • Song, Z., Storesletten K., and F. Zilibotti (2011): Growing like China, American Economic Review, vol. 101, issue 1, 202–241.
  • Kose, A., E. Prasad, K. Rogoff, and S. Wei (2009): Financial Globalization: A Reappraisal, IMF Staff Papers, 56, 8–62.
  • Henry, P.B. (2007): Capital Account Liberalization: Theory, Evidence and Speculation, Journal of Economic Literature, Vol. XLV, 887–935.
  • Acemoglu D., P. Aghion, L. Bursztyn and D. Hemous (2012): The Environment and Directed Technical Change, American Economic Review, 102(1), 131-66.
  • Grossman G. and A. Krueger (1995). Economic Growth and the Environment, Quarterly Journal of Economics 110, 353-377.
  • Stokey N. (1998). Are There Limits to Growth? International Economic Review 39, 1-31.
  • Acemoglu, D., U. Akcigit, D. Hanley and W. Kerr (2016): Transition to Clean Technology, Journal of Political Economy, vol. 124, no. 1.
  • Acemoglu, D.; Johnson S.; Robinson J. A. (2005): Institutions as a Fundamental Cause of Long-Run Growth, in: Handbook of Economic Growth (Chapter 6), Volume 2A, ed. by P. Aghion and S. N. Durlauf. Elsevier, Amsterdam.
  • Acemoglu, D., J. Robinson and T. Verdier (2016): Asymmetric Growth and Institutions in an Interdependent World, Journal of Political Economy, forthcoming.
  • Acemoglu, D., S. Johnson and J. A. Robinson (2001): The Colonial Origins of Comparative Development: An Empirical Investigation, American Economic Review, 91, 1369-1401.
  • Glaeser, E. L., R. La Porta, F. Lopez-de-Silanes, and A. Shleifer (2004): Do Institutions Cause Growth?, Journal of Economic Growth, 9, 271-303.

General References:

  • Weil, D. N. (2012): Economic Growth, 3rd ed., Routledge.
  • Helpman, E. (2004): The Mystery of Economic Growth, Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.
  • Acemoglu, D. (2009): Introduction to Modern Economic Growth, Princeton University, Press, Princeton NJ.
  • Aghion, P., and P. Howitt (2009): The Economics of Growth, MIT Press, Cambridge.

Last modified

October 2017