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Summer Semester


The class is an introduction to the basic concepts in the field of industrial economics. After discussing some simple formal models, we will learn how to apply these concepts to explain empirically observed phenomena of industry development. Some aspects from behavioral, institutional and in particular Schumpeterian economics will be added to the discussion to gain a better understanding of the role of human cognition as well as political institutions in industry evolution.

The objective of the course is to introduce the main questions, theories and methods in the field of development economics, while also to critically question the conventional discourse in the discipline. After an overview of the great debates in the field, a number of classic and contemporary models, theories and strategies of economic development will be introduced. We will then focus on a number of specific topics more in detail, such as industrial policy, population growth, inequality, health and education, the environment, development aid, international trade, as well as the role of domestic and international financial markets.
The course will be based both on a number of key books representing the larger debates in the field, as well as on a discussion of cutting-edge research papers in development economics, to provide students with an understanding of the methodologies currently at use. Throughout the course, we will also look at the interaction between policies and political institutions, and examine the impact of new technologies (and here in particular digitalization) on development strategies and outcomes.

The course is an introduction to the study of experimental methods and causal inference in the social sciences, with a particular focus on institutional and development economics. The overall goal of the course is to help students conceive and design their own research project – from finding a precise research question and testable hypothesis, through the design and implementation of an experiment, to the interpretation of the data and the successful publication of the results. In the first part of the course, we will discuss the increasing popularity of experiments in economics and political science, as well as the theoretical and methodological foundations of experimental design. The second part will cover a number of different types of experiments, such as lab, field, survey and list experiments, as well as natural and quasi-natural experiments. For each type of experiment, we will discuss in detail a number of high-quality research papers as examples. The third part of the course will center on a number of typical problems often encountered when conducting experiments, in particular with respect to external validity, causality and ethical questions. Finally, students will have the possibility to conceive and present their own experimental design in class.


According to the Economist’s Democracy Index, 92 out of 167 countries in the world can either be characterized as hybrid or as authoritarian regimes, i.e. countries where political pluralism is severely limited or nonexistent. In this class, we will study how the economic systems of these countries work, how they differ in their functioning from the economies of democratic countries, and what outcomes they produce. During the class, students will familiarize themselves with central concepts from the institutional and comparative political economy literature, for example the importance of property rights security for economic outcomes, the role of patron-client relationships, the political economy of corruption, and the role played by firms and entrepreneurs in authoritarian political systems. These concepts will be illustrated by numerous case studies from contexts such as China, North Korea, Vietnam, Russia, Belarus, Cuba, Saudi Arabia, Rwanda and Singapore. 

In parallel to providing an in-depth introduction to the topic of authoritarian economic systems, the class will also introduce students to qualitative and quantitative research methods in the fields of comparative political economy and institutional economics. The class will be taught in parallel by Ekaterina Paustyan, who has extensive experience in studying authoritarian systems by using qualitative empirical approaches, and Michael Rochlitz, who studies similar questions by using quantitative data. As a result, students will be able to compare the advantages and disadvantages of both approaches, and see what method fits best to study a given question.

For the last 40 years, the Chinese economy has been growing at a rate never experienced before by any country in human history. It is also highly likely that the People’s Republic of China will soon replace the United States as the most important economy in the world. A good understanding of why the Chinese economy became so successful (1), how the Chinese economic system works (2), and how the future of the Chinese economy is likely to look like (3) is therefore crucial for everyone interested in economic questions at the regional, national and global level, in Germany and elsewhere.

The first part of this class will provide students with a solid introduction to China’s recent economic history, from the early 20th century until today. We will then focus on a number of specific topics (outlined below). The course will mostly be based on a detailed analysis of relevant empirical research articles and books from the fields of economics, economic history, political economy and political science. This analysis will be complemented by a discussion of other relevant sources such as original newspaper articles, short videos, novels, interviews and memoirs, to provide students with a vivid and holistic understanding of China’s growth experience during the last 40 years.

Students will learn to understand how research and innovation work in modern economies, and how political institutions – democratic and authoritarian – can impact research activity and innovation. The class will combine methods from innovation economics and comparative political economy, and will provide students with a solid understanding of the foundational literature from both approaches.