Course Syllabus

Ec 1530 

Health, Hunger and the Household in Developing Countries

Professor: Andew D. Foster (
Office Phone: 401 863 2537 
112 Mencoff Hall (68 Waterman Av)
Office hours: Mon:  1-3 and by appointment

Primary Meeting: T R 02:30 pm - 3:50 pm

Location:  Salomon Center 202

Exam: 12/21/2013, 9AM

This course uses the tools of the empirical microeconomics to understand the process of economic development from the perspective of the household in low income settings.  We emphasize in particular the extent to which economic models of individual and household decision making can be used to better understand relationships among health, nutrition, fertility, savings, schooling, labor productivity, wage determination, and gender-based inequality; the use of quantitative tools for the assessment of these economic models;  and the potential for theoretically grounded empirical research to assist in the design of more effective interventions to improve the well-being of poor households in the developing world.


Required: Economics 1110 or 1130
Recommended: Economics 1620 or 1630 

Related courses:

For its size Brown has a very large number of courses related to economic development and you are encouraged to take more than one if you have an interest in this area. Economics concentrators would generally take 1510 and then take one or more of the more specialized course, but you can take the specialized courses in any combination or sequence and are not required to take 1510.

Ec 0510 Development and International Economy -- general course for non-majors
Ec 1510 Economic Development -- general development course for majors
Ec 1520 The Economic Analysis of Institutions -- specialized upper level course focused on land, labor and credit markets and the role of community institutions
EC 1530 Health, Hunger and the Household in Developing Countries -- specialized upper level course focused on health, education, and household behavior.
Ec 1355 Economics of the environment in developing countries -- specialized upper level courses focused on the environment
Ec 1560 Economic Growth -- specialized upper level course focused on macroeconomic analysis of the process of development 

Course requirements:

We are using Canvas for this course.  Students registered for the course should be able to access the full canvas site by logging in through Those not registered can access a limited version of the site through

Paper and single chapter readings will general be available here and assignments should be submitted through Canvas unless indicated otherwise.

Readings:   The primary focus of the course will be on reading and working through articles published or suitable for major economics journals.  These will be available on the class web page. If you are off campus you will need VPN to access some articles. You will be expected to read these articles and understand their basic approach and conclusions on your own. You are not responsible for the technical details in these articles unless these details are discussed in class. You should also buy or have access to the Duflo and Banerjee book which will form the basis of periodic in class discussions.

Problem sets (3 over semester): Build on readings and lectures and test theoretical and empirical skills. You are welcome to work with others but should submit your own. Problem sets will count equally and will, in total, represent 20% of your grade. I will schedule a section outside of the normal class to go over problem sets that will particularly be useful for those of you without strong statistical skills. 

Online quizzes (almost every week): 2-3 short answer questions, usually T/F with explanation. Online quizzes will count equally and will, in total, represent 20% of your grade.

Short paper (3): You are asked to write three 3-5 page papers on a current issue related to the material in the course. I will provide a list of questions from which you should select one and you should answer them using both papers on the syllabus and those from the literature. You may find it particularly useful to look at papers presented at recent development conferences listed at and   Short papers will count equally and will, in total, represent 20% of your grade. 

Class participation: You are expected to participate in class discussion both by asking and responding to questions during lectures and in class discussions.Overall class participation will constitute 20% of your grade.

Final: You will have a final during the exam period. It will count 20% of your grade. 


A. Banerjee and  E. Duflo,  Poor Economics: A Radical Rethining of the Way to Fight Global Poverty, Perseus, 2011
This book provides an excellent framework and background for the topics discussed in the course and cites many of the specific articles.  I have asked you to purchase the book as we will be reading most of the chapters and I will not place on line.  

Some other useful books:

GS Becker A Treatise on the Family, Harvard, 1981, 1991
A classic book illustrating economic models of household behavior

WK Bryant and CD Zick, The Economic Organization of the Household, Cambridge 2006
An alternative book on household behavior that may be easier to follow

JF Ermisch An Economic Analysis of the Family, Princeton 2003
A third book that focuses particularly on demographic aspects of household behavior. 

D Ray, Development Economics, Princeton, 1998
This text is used by other development courses in the Economics Department and provides a useful summary treatment of some topics in the course.  

G. Koop Analysis of Economic Data, Wiley, 2005 Available online as ebook: 
Useful summary of statistics and regression.

JD Angrist and JS Pishke, Mostly Harmless Econometrics: An Empiricist's Companion, Princeton 2008 
A useful summary of practice of applied econometrics

 Details of course modules that include readings and online quizzes are at:

 Modules List

 Dates on dates assignments are below followed by a long list of as yet undated assignements.






Course Summary:

Date Details