Course Description

Course Name

Economics of Developing Countries

Session: VDNS3121

Hours & Credits

18 Credit Points

Prerequisites & Language Level

Taught In English

  • There is no language prerequisite for courses at this language level.


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$35,520; virtually everyone can read and write; and, on average, people can expect to live for 81 years. In India, income per capita is US$1,570; more than a third of the population cannot read and write; and average life expectancy is 66 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 of developing countries. Note that this is a paper based around economic theory; only minimal use is made of case studies.

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 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:
1. Critical thinking (the ability to decide what the strengths and weaknesses of an argument or model are and to decide if you agree with the argument and/or the predictions of the model): you will get practice at this in tutorials, and this will be assessed in the internal assessment essay and final exam
2. The ability to reconcile competing arguments and to draw conclusions (an extension of critical thinking ? if two models make different predictions, and/or you are faced with what appear to be contradictory arguments, can you decide which of the arguments are the most convincing and draw conclusions based on this): you will get practise at this in tutorials, and this will be assessed in the internal assessment essay and final exam
3. Written communication (can you write a good academic essay, demonstrating the ability to think critically, to reconcile competing arguments and to draw conclusions based on sound argument): you will be given guidance on this in lectures and tutorials (and see the material at the end of this handout). This will be assessed in the internal assessment essay and in the essay section of the final exam

*Course content subject to change