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Growth, Inequality and Poverty


Credits: 4 ECTS

Second semester

Elective Courses



This course is focusing particularly on inequality and poverty in the context of developing and ‘emerging’ middle-income countries. It uses some of the tools of development economics, but it is intended to be also accessible for non-economists, as it will be taught in a non-technical manner. Primary attention will be given to the three main issues within “development” mentioned in the title, namely Growth, Inequality and Poverty (GRIP), which have become even more important as the global economic crisis of 2008-2010 has impacted most developing countries in a disproportional way (except for China and India). It will introduce the participant into the principal debates in the field of development economics; the role of the state in development (from a developmental towards an enabling state); different development strategies (such as the Import Substitution Industrialisation, Export Orientation under Structural Adjustment, the East-Asian model, and transition strategies); and crucial issues such as poverty, inequality in income and assets in developing countries and transition economies, in the context of a rapidly globalizing world economy and during and after the recent economic downturn as a consequence of the global financial crisis, and in relation to the previous Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) that were to be realized by 2015, and the newly formulated Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030.

The course will consist of four sub-modules, with in total 12 sessions (of 2 hours):

  1. Globalisation, Trade and Unequal Development (4 sessions)
  2. Inequality and Poverty in Development and Transition Countries (3 sessions)
  3. Growth with Poverty Reduction, PRSPs and the MDGs-SDGs (3 sessions)
  4. Student-led outline presentations of individual course papers (2 sessions)

Various teaching methods will be used. The core of this Elective Course will be a series of classroom lectures, including question, answer and discussion periods, in order to continuously test the understanding and absorption of the material presented and the required readings by the students. Whenever possible, exercises will be included to show (with data sources) certain trends (such as growth, poverty and inequality trends) in practice. Student presentations will contribute to sharpening the outlines of individual course papers, and their final content.


The assessment will take place in the form of the writing of an essay (maximally 3,500 words), which will have to deal with a policy-oriented problem and/or a policy intervention, particularly focused on issues such as poverty, income distribution, globalization and its impact (90% of total mark). The outline of this essay needs to be submitted in its final form before the end of the series of classroom lectures, in order to be approved by the course leader and presented during one of the two final (student-led) sessions (10% of total mark).