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Economics: North America


Admission requirements

This course is only available for students in the BA International Studies.
Limited places are also open for exchange students. Please note: this course takes place in The Hague.


Building on our students’ previous experience with macroeconomics, this course aims to provide an area-specific exploration of the recent economic history of North America, while simultaneously helping students to become increasingly familiar with key aspects of economic theory and policy as they played out in the recent North American past.
The course “Economics – North America” is designed to provide an overview of economic, institutional, and economic policy developments in North America since the time of the New Deal, with an additional emphasis on how North American developments have impacted and been impacted by global economic and economic policy forces, including the advent of NAFTA and WTO. The sweeping policy changes of the 1930s cemented the modern American economic order which forms the baseline for subsequent developments. Since then, there have been tremendous swings in the power of labor, monetarism, laissez-faire movements. Sea changes in banking and market regulation have occurred. And yet, apart from a few ultimately unfounded ‘scares’ (such as the Japanese challenge of the 1980s), American economic hegemony seemed to go only up and up until the crash of 2008. Will this prove to have been a pivotal turning point in global economic history? And what role should the new awareness of income inequality play in national debates and economic policy? On a broader level, what lessons can we learn from the ‘American model?’ How much of it was the result of policy, institutions, path dependencies, and/or just plain ‘dumb luck?’
Having completed this course, it is hoped that students will look back on it as a foundational moment in their understanding of the historical and ongoing importance of North American economic power as a major player in global human development.

Course objectives

Students learn to develop a basic familiarity with the key milestones in (North) American economic policy and development from the WWII era to the present. In order to do this, they will become increasingly familiar with some of the basic concepts of macroeconomic and mnicroeconomic theory and policy. They will learn to critically evaluate and interpret American ‘success’ and ‘failures,’ which requires a familiarity with some of the principal lines of interpretation and debate in academia and public policy. In order to gain this knowledge, they will gain an introduction to the interested parties both inside and outside of the U.S. who have sought to use this story as grist for their own ideological mill. Students will thus learn to develop a critical faculty which is capable of seeing beyond economic headlines, and making informed decisions about the deeper causes of these movement.
In order to hone the critical faculties addressed above, students will develop and present a number of spoken and written assignments, and express opinions in essay-format examinations. This requires an ability to comprehend sophisticated academic debates on economics and economic policy in the English language (which are nonetheless accessible to an educated layperson), and to report, both in oral and in written form, on their studies and their research; to participate in debates in an active, prepared and informed way, respecting other people’s convictions and emotions; understand fundamental cultural differences and divisions; work and write under time-pressure, and deal with deadlines.
In short, the following academic skills are acquired and developed: time management and structuration, critical thinking, notes taking, research skills, academic reading and writing, referencing, communicative skills (oral presentation, discussion, giving of feedback).


The timetable is available on the BA International Studies website

Mode of instruction

One two hour lecture per week; tri-weekly tutorials.

Attending all tutorial sessions is compulsory. If you are unable to attend a session, please inform the tutor of the course in advance, providing a valid reason for your absence. Being absent without notification and valid reason or not being present at half or more of the tutorial sessions will mean your assignments will not be assessed, and result in a 1.0 for the tutorial (30% of the final grade).

Course Load

Total course load for this course is 5 EC (1 EC = 28 hours), this equals 140 hours, broken down by:

  • Atending lectures: 2 hours per week x 12 weeks: 24 hrs

  • Atending attending tutorials 2 hours per three weeks: 8 hrs

  • Assessment hours (midterms and final exam): 4 hrs

  • Time for studying the compulsory literature: 68 hrs

  • Time for completing assignments, preparation classes and exams: 36 hrs

Assessment method


Tutorial Grade (includes):
-Oral Presentation
-Short Essay (1,500-2,000 words)

Midterm Exam:
-* Written examination with essay questions

Final exam:

  • Written examination with essay questions


Tutorials 30%
Midterm Exam 30%
Final Exam 40 %

To complete the final mark, please take notice of the following: the final mark for the course is established by determining the weighted average.


If the final grade is insufficient (lower than a 6), there is the possibility of retaking the full 70% of the exam material, replacing both the earlier mid- and endterm grades. No resit for the tutorials is possible.


Blackboard will be used. For tutorial groups: please enroll in blackboard after your enrolment in uSis

Students are requested to register on Blackboard for this course.

Reading list

Course Readings (required):

  • M. French, US Economic History Since 1945 (Manchester, 1997).

  • S. Engerman and R. Gallman. Cambridge Economic History of the United States, Vol. III, 20th century. (Available online through Leiden Library) (Abbreviated ‘CEH’ below).

  • C. Reinhart and K. Rogoff. This Time Is Different: Eight Centuries of Financial Folly (Princeton, 2011).

Course Readings (reference):

  • J. Hughes, American Economic History (Pearson, 8th ed.).


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.
General information about uSis is available in English and Dutch

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable


For tutorials
Dr. J. Fynn-Paul