Do human societies progress? It seems uncontestable that some societies have made immense leaps forward over the last 200 years, reaching levels of wealth and welfare that had long been unthinkable. Technology, in all its guises, has been an essential driver of this progress. At the same time, however, it is clear that welfare has been unevenly spread: while Norwegians on average live until they are 81 and face a 0.3% chance that their newborn baby will die before the age of 5, Malians only live for 51 years and face a 13% chance of child mortality. To account for this global inequality in development, social scientists argue that innovation and human welfare are contingent on certain political, economic, and social systems (or ‘institutions’). This course introduces students to the ways in which institutions shape human welfare and the ‘right’ institutions can be designed and reinforced. As such, it provides students with the social scientific tools to understand and address the global challenges of good governance, international development, and public health.
Upon successful completion of the course, students will:
Be able to reflect on the meanings, measurements, and drivers of prosperity and human welfare;
Be able to apply several core analytical tools from the social sciences to the study of prosperity and human welfare; and
Have practiced translating the scholarly literature on prosperity into practical policy recommendations.