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Winter Semester


China's Economic Growth

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.

Applied Quantitative Research: New Methods, Tools and Tricks

The aim of the course is to provide students with a hands-on introduction to some of the most advanced research methods in economics, such as regression discontinuity designs, instrumental variables, differences-in-differences, and a range of experimental approaches to establish causality. The objective of the course is not to enable students to use these methods themselves. Rather, after finishing the class students will be able to understand why and when these methods are useful (1), how they work (2), and be able to follow, evaluate and participate in discussions of research papers that use these methods (3). The ultimate objective of the class is to provide students with an understanding of what a powerful tool applied quantitative research can be to answer questions that otherwise can often not easily be answered.

There are no prerequisites to attend the class. A prior understanding of statistics and econometrics is helpful, but not required. At the end of the class, students will have the possibility to focus on one research method in particular, and design their own small project.  

To illustrate specific methods and approaches, we will focus on a range of recent research papers from institutional and development economics, as well as applied political economy. The papers will show how it is possible to answer a whole range of tricky questions with the help of applied quantitative research – examples of questions that we will focus on in class include the following:

Did the presence of the international coalition in Afghanistan affect the economic empowerment of women? Does sending soldiers stop terrorism? What is the most cost-effective way to vaccine children in poor rural areas in India? What are the social effects of civil war? How to test for electoral fraud? What are the hidden economics of the US prison system? How do economic conditions affect the death rate of suicide attacks?  Does it benefit a businessman to become a politician? How did the ethnic background of the Valide Sultan (queen mother) affect the probability that the Ottoman Empire went to war? What is the long-term effect of colonialism? And how would a visit of the Dalai Lama affect trade of your country with China?  

Der Kurs hat das Ziel, Studierende auf das Verfassen der Bachelorarbeit vorzubereiten. Nach dem erfolgreichen Abschluss des Kurses werden Studierende in der Lage sein, ein Forschungsthema auszuwählen und einzugrenzen, eine Literaturrecherche durchzuführen, die Gliederung einer Bachelorarbeit zu erstellen, und eigenhändig ein Forschungsprojekt zu planen und durchzuführen. Zum Ende des Kurses werden die Studierenden ein eigenes Forschungsprojekt entwerfen, und vor ihren Kommilitonen vorstellen. 

Inhaltlich wird sich der Kurs mit Themen der Transformations- & Institutionenökonomik beschäftigen, insbesondere mit der Frage wie politische und soziale Institutionen wirtschaftliche Entwicklungen beeinflussen können. Studierende haben die Möglichkeit, aus einem weiten thematischen wie geographischen Feld das Thema ihres Forschungsprojekts auszusuchen. Mögliche Themen sind z.B. die wirtschaftliche Transition in Osteuropa, Russland und der Volksrepublik China, aber auch Fragen der wirtschaftlichen Entwicklung von Schwellenländern in Südostasien, im Nahen Osten, Lateinamerika oder Sub-Sahara Afrika.