The final exam for this course last year asked each student to write an economic rationale in support of one of two policy options, using information from course readings as evidence. Generally students students did not do well on the exam, mainly because they did not discuss applicable concepts like moral hazard and discounting the future. These concepts were found in several course readings and discussed in class. While I didn’t explicitly mention these concepts in the exam prompt, the benefits of including them in the rationale should have been obvious given course content.
Now I’m thinking of a question like this for the final exam:
What has a greater influence on economic development in Egypt: law (institutions) or geography (luck)? Why?
In your answer, reference the items below and relevant course readings listed in the syllabus:
- Daron Acemoglu, “Root Causes: A Historical Approach to Assessing the Role of Institutions in Economic Development,” Finance & Development, June 2003, p. 27-30, https://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/fandd/2003/06/pdf/Acemoglu.pdf.
- Banerjee and Duflo, Ch. 10 and Conclusion.
- Easterly, Ch. 10, p. 195-214.
- Hernando de Soto, “Thoughts on the Importance of Boundaries,” Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society 157, 1 (March 2013): 22-31 (on Canvas).
- Richard Conniff, “The Vanishing Nile: A Great River Faces a Multitude of Threats,” Yale Environment 360, 6 April 2017, https://e360.yale.edu/features/vanishing-nile-a-great-river-faces-a-multitude-of-threats-egypt-dam.
- Livia Albeck-Ripka, “Faced With Drought, the Pharoahs Tried (and Failed) to Adapt,” The New York Times, 31 March 2018, https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/30/climate/egypt-climate-drought.html.
The downside here is that I’m giving up an authentic writing exercise in favor of (I assume) even more transparent alignment with course objectives.