Archived Versions

14.74 Foundations of Development Policy

As taught in: Spring 2009

Students sit in a classroom in a grassy field.

South African outdoor classroom. (Image courtesy of the U.S. Peace Corps.)




Prof. Esther Duflo

Course Features

Course Description

This course explores the foundations of policy making in developing countries. The goal is to spell out various policy options and to quantify the trade-offs between them. We will study the different facets of human development: education, health, gender, the family, land relations, risk, informal and formal norms and institutions. This is an empirical class. For each topic, we will study several concrete examples chosen from around the world. While studying each of these topics, we will ask: What determines the decisions of poor households in developing countries? What constraints are they subject to? Is there a scope for policy (by government, international organizations, or non-governmental organizations (NGOs))? What policies have been tried out? Have they been successful?

Technical Requirements

Special software is required to use some of the files in this course: .dta.