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ECON303 Economics of Developing Countries

2021 information for papers will be published in early September. 

Economic problems in developing countries. Topics covered include theories of economic growth, underdevelopment, basic needs, human development, education and population growth.

In New Zealand, income per capita is US$37,800; virtually everyone can read and write; and, on average, people can expect to live for 81 years. In India, income per capita is US$1,600; about a third of the population cannot read and write; and average life expectancy is 68 years. Most of the countries that make up the world economy have more in common with India than with New Zealand. These countries (where more than two thirds of the world's population live) are known as the "Third World". Other names for this group of countries include "developing countries" and "less-developed countries (LDCs)".

This paper is about the economies of these countries. We will analyse why it is that most of the world's economies appear to be trapped at low standards of living for most of their citizens. We will also ask what policies, if any, are likely to encourage the economic development of these countries. The approach followed will be to relate the theoretical literature to the real-world experience.

Paper title Economics of Developing Countries
Paper code ECON303
Subject Economics
EFTS 0.1500
Points 18 points
Teaching period First Semester
Domestic Tuition Fees (NZD) $863.25
International Tuition Fees (NZD) $4,276.80

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ECON 201 or ECON 271
Schedule C
Arts and Music, Commerce, Science

Teaching staff

Professor Stephen Knowles

Todaro and Smith (2015) "Economic Development," Addison Wesley.
Graduate Attributes Emphasised
Global perspective, Interdisciplinary perspective, Lifelong learning, Scholarship, Communication, Critical thinking, Ethics, Information literacy, Research, Self-motivation.
View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.
Learning Outcomes

In this paper we will study different theories and models of the process of economic growth and development. We will compare the predictions of these theories and models to what we observe in the real world, with reference to cross-country data. Some topics will also analyse evidence from randomised controlled trials (RCTs). Some time will also be spent discussing how to measure concepts like economic development, income inequality and poverty. It is your understanding of these theories, models and concepts, and your ability to apply these, that will be examinable in both the internal assessment essay and the final exam.

In addition to general mastery of the material, a number of specific learning outcomes follow from this: critical thinking, the ability to reconcile competing arguments and written communication are a key focus.

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First Semester

Teaching method
This paper is taught On Campus
Learning management system


Stream Days Times Weeks
L1 Monday 13:00-13:50 9-13, 19-22
Wednesday 13:00-13:50 9-12, 19-22


Stream Days Times Weeks
Attend one stream from
T1 Tuesday 12:00-12:50 9-11, 18-19, 21
T2 Wednesday 16:00-16:50 9-11, 18-19, 21
T3 Thursday 09:00-09:50 9-11, 18-19, 21
T4 Thursday 12:00-12:50 9-11, 18-19, 21