Economics 454

Economic Growth
Jeffrey Parker, Reed College
Fall Semester, 2011

Course Information


This course surveys modern theories and evidence about economic growth. This has been one of the most active areas of economic research in the last 25 years. Most of what we study is from this recent literature.


Because the class is very small, the format will be very open. Students will be expected to participate actively in discussions and in presentation of theoretical and empirical content.


Economics 314 is the only prerequisite. Students will be expected to know growth theory at the level covered in Romer's text for that course.

Office Hours

The instructor will hold office hours on Mondays and Wednesdays from 1:30 to 2:30. If these times are not convenient, you may contact him via email or at extension 7308 to arrange an appointment.

Course Requirements

Exams: A mid-term and a final examination will be required. The mid-term will occur sometime near fall break. The final exam is scheduled for Thursday, December 15, 1-4pm.
Homework: There will be some homework assignments throughout the course. Most will be traditional problem sets taken from the texts we read.


Grades will be based on all evidence of the student's knowledge of the subject matter. Students may demonstrate such knowledge through performance on exams, problem sets, and presentations, as well as through class participation and conversations with the instructor outside of class.

Texts and Other Readings

Much of modern growth theory has been collected in several excellent textbook. We will cover most of Robert Barro and Xavier Sala-i-Martin's Economic Growth, 2nd ed. There are several other texts that contain useful information:

  • Aghion, Phillipe, and Peter Howitt, The Economics of Growth, MIT Press, 2009. (An alternative text at a similar level.)
  • Acemoglu, Daron, Introduction to Modern Economic Growth, Princeton University Press, 2009. (This is a brilliant and comprehensive treatment of growth at a more advanced level than our course.)
  • Weil, David, Economic Growth, Addison-Wesley, 2005. (An undergraduate text at a lower level.)
  • Jones, Charles I., Introduction to Economic Growth, 2nd ed., Norton, 2002. (Another undergraduate text.)
After covering basic growth theory in the first eight chapters of Barro and Sala-i-Martin, we will turn to more specialized models, empirical analysis, and growth-related policies. Coverage of these topics will be through a combination of seminal literature and the excellent summaries provided by selected chapters of the Handbook of Economic Growth, Volumes 1A and 1B, published in 2005 by North-Holland.