ECON 4774 Topics in Economic Development, History and Political Economy

Instructor Contact

Dr. Murat Iyigun

About the course

Sustained economic growth is a relatively recent economic phenomenon that came about due to the Industrial Revolution and as a result of which the standards of living improved dramatically in the Anglo-Saxon West since the 18th century. However, global inequality has also risen to unprecedented levels because other parts of the world still significantly lag the West in economic, social and political terms. In this class, we shall study the comparative development paths of Anglo-Saxon Europe and the Middle East. In doing so, we shall primarily focus on an expansive list of influential and relevant articles published and the four books required for the class.

Course Prerequisites: Requires prerequisite course of ECON 3070 or ECON 3080 (minimum grade C-).

Proctoring: This course requires proctored examinations. Exams are proctored which will require planning on your part. Proctors are individuals who administer the exam process following the guidelines provided by University of Colorado Boulder to ensure academic integrity. Some proctoring options require the student to pay a fee.


By the end of the course you should be able to:

  • Identify the basic facts related to the evolution of the world income distribution, inequality across countries and demographic trends related to economic development.
  • Study & comprehend the 3 versions of the neoclassical economic growth model, its testable implications.
  • Evaluate what the relevant data say about the neoclassical growth model’s testable hypotheses.
  • Identify what are the relative roles of factor accumulation and TFP improvements in sustaining economic growth and development.
  • Understand the main arguments offered by the seminal literature on the role of institutions in development.
  • Analyze the existing empirical work on the role of institutions and their shortcomings.
  • Investigate the important empirical work on the role of culture in economic development.
  • Study & determine the key empirical work on the nexus of institutions versus culture in economic development.
  • Know how culture generally and religion more specifically came to bear on institutional change and
  • sociopolitical and economic progress in Europe and the Middle East historically.
  • Distill what the above mean for interpreting the importance of institutions versus culture in economic development.

Required Texts

  1. The Rise and Decline of Nations by Mancur Olson (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press), 1984, reprint.
  2. War, Peace and Prosperity in the Name of God by Murat Iyigun (Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press), 2015.
  3. A Culture of Growth: The Origins of the Modern Economy by Joel Mokyr, (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press), 2017.
  4. Rulers, Religion and Riches by Jared Rubin (Cambridge, UK, Cambridge University Press), 2017.


Assignment Frequency GRADE PERCENTAGE
In-Video Quizzes 12 10%
Article Discussion Postings 4 15%
Book Discussion Postings 4 15%
Problem Sets 2 10%
Midterm Exam 1 20%
Cumulative Final Exam 1 30%
TOTAL 100%

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Monday – Friday
9:00am to 4:00pm


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1505 University Avenue
University of Colorado Boulder
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Boulder, Colorado