Economics 420I, Growth Theory & Applications

Fall 2023

Welcome to the website for Professor Jenny Minier's Economics 420I, Growth Applications and Policy (fall 2023).

More specific course information will be available on Canvas. 

Why study economic growth? The traditional motivation is the difference in incomes across countries: around the world, many countries (Malawi, for example) have income per person of approximately $500 per year, while in the U.S. and similar countries, income per person is about $60,000. What explains this difference, and what can countries like Malawi do to increase standards of living for their citizens? This difference is relatively new - five centuries ago, average standards of living were much more similar. And these differences mean a lot more than whether an average citizen can buy a new iPhone - how long you can expect to live, whether you're able to read or not, how long you can attend school, what types of jobs you can have are all highly correlated with average income in the country where you live.

While these differences across countries are striking, there are also significant differences in income within the U.S. Some counties have 2021 personal income per capita below $30,000 (Wheeler GA, Crowley CO, Union FL, Madison ID, Lake TN, Elliott KY, Forest PA) while it's over $160,000 for others (San Mateo CA, San Francisco CA, Marin CA, Summit UT, New York NY, Pitkin CO, Teton WY). Even just in Ohio, personal income per capita ranges from $32,000 in Noble County, $40,636 in Hardin County, and $40,663 in Athens County to $78,294 in Geauga County and $83,603 in Delaware County.
Regional data from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis for 2021

While economic growth contributes to increased average standards of living, it doesn't necessarily improve distributional issues (are most people's standards of living increasing, or only a few?) and may cause significant environmental degradation. We'll also talk about some of the negative side effects of some approaches to economic growth, and about the goal of sustainable, inclusive growth.

In this course, we'll build on the growth models you've seen in ECO 317 to understand these differences and consider policy recommendations for increasing economic growth. Throughout the semester, we'll also be working with the U.S. Embassy in Turkmenistan to conduct an analysis of the business environment in Turkmenistan as a Diplomacy Lab project through the U.S. State Department.

Prerequisite: ECO 317 or instructor permission. If you've taken ECO 347 from me, I'd be glad to give you permission!

Want more motivation? Watch this video (Hans Rosling's 200 Countries, 200 Years, 4 Minutes - from 2012 but a great overview!)
Questions? Feel free to email: jminier at miamioh dot edu

Required book: Oded Galor, The Journey of Humanity: A New History of Wealth and Inequality with Implications for our Future (2022, should be under $20)