Course description

Development research is fascinating and can be approached from very different angles. The lecture provides an overview of the central questions and topics in the field of behavioral development economics. The course takes the micro perspective to provide an understanding of the major determinants and consequences of poverty and their impact on individual behavior. Students will become familiar with key concepts used by behavioral economists, and analyze the reasoning of the poor thought the concept of the rational actor, quasi-rational actor and enculturated actor.

This course exposes students to different methodological approaches in development policy design and provides students with the necessary tools to understand empirical and experimental literature in development economics and related fields that use similar methodological toolboxes. Thus, it will provide a summary of recent experimental findings and new developments in the fields of Behavioral Economics and Development Economics. The overarching aim is to train students to take part in the development discussion by discussing different approaches through the lens of behavioral economics.

The course is organized around three substantive methodological themes: the use of laboratory experiments, randomized evaluations, and psychological approaches. To examine how these approaches can help development policy we will cover several topics: Aspiration Failures, Access to Finance, Investments in Human Capital (Health and Education), Corruption, and Discrimination and Conflicts.

Lecture 1 – Introduction
Lecture 2 – Core Concepts of Behavioral Economics
Lecture 3 – Cognitive capacity and Decision Making
Lecture 4 – Aspiration Failures and Self-Affirmation
Lecture 5 – Poverty Traps and the Economics Lives of the Poor
Lecture 6 – Health and Sanitation
Lecture 7 – Morals and Social Norms
Lecture 8 – Corruption
Lecture 9 – Culture
Lecture 10 – Development Aid Discussion

Students are required to write an essay and a blog entry. You can write about the same topic for the blog and the essay. Thus, your blog entry is a possibility to get student feedback on your essay. Course material can be accessed via ILIAS.