BUS073 Development Economics

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AS1: Societal issue within the context of campaigns

Module: BUS073 Development Economics

Second Essay Assignment Guidelines (50% of final mark)

Your final assignment consists of two parts:

  • First, analysing two datasets that will be provided to you using the statistical software STATA (represents 20% of your total grade). Guidelines for this data assignment will be emailed to you late in March, along the stata files and coversheet.
  • Second, writing an essay roughly of 2,500 words (represents 50% of your total grade). Note the strict upper word limit is 2600 words excluding references, appendices, tables (any words written beyond that will not be read). This document provides the guidelines on your essay.

Deadline for both assignments: Date to be confirmed, but will be towards very end of term in April. Please upload your assignment in QMPLUS. Both assignments must be submitted in word version.

Programme Learning Outcome Assessed (see module outline for reference)

1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 2.1, 2.2, 2.3, 2.4, 3.2, 3.3

Essay Assignment Guidelines

Choose one topic that interests you from the following six topics:

1. Geography 2 Institutions 3. Conflict 4. Democracy 5. Foreign Aid 6. Corruption


You also have the choice to write:

  1. Empirical essay or a
  2. Critical literature review essay

The last page of this document describes the marking criteria.

The great majority of our students (90%) in recent years have written empirical essays. But this is by no means obligatory. Critical literature reviews can also get top marks if well written. Both have same word limit, roughly 2,500 words excluding table results, references, appendixes and footnotes.

Regardless of which type of essay you choose you are required to review at least four different sources (e.g. journal articles or book chapters). Among the required four sources you can include articles listed as compulsory readings for the module. Note that those doing a literature review essays might well have to read and assess more than just four sources to be comprehensive enough.

If you plan to do an empirical essay, it is vital to find whether the data you require exist and are accessible. Beware essay ideas can be thwarted by infeasible or over-ambitious data-collection plans.

Suggestions on where to find data and essay questions to work on

  • Page 4 in this document provides a list of suggested essay questions.  Of course, you can write your essay on other questions as long as they are related to one of the six topics required.
  • Pages 5-10, provide a list of references with replication files (data and do files) that you can use in your essays.

In case you need extra help to work with data files for your empirical files I will be happy to assist you during my office hours (Mondays 2-3pm, 6-7pm). The following book might also be quite helpful to run econometric analysis in stata. The book is available in QMplus (in assignment section) and in link provided next. Acock, A.(2010) A gentle introduction to stata, StataCorp LP.  (3rd Edition).

Tips on how to critically analyse the literature

Critically read each source, look for the arguments presented rather than just facts. Take notes as you read and start to organise your review around themes and ideas. Consider using a table, or concept map to identify how the different sources relate to each other.

To reflect strong critical analysis, for each source you are reviewing ask yourself:

  • How authoritative and credible is this source?
  • What are the differences and similarities between the sources read?
  • What are the key arguments, evidence presented and limitations of the study?
  • Are there any gaps in the literature that require further study?

Empirical essay

Empirical essays analyse data from a developing country (countries) using econometric methods with the aim of gaining knowledge on an important research question. These essays will be assed based on the quality of arguments and method presented, and not on whether the results presented support the hypothesis being tested.

Typical structure of an empirical essay

Insert assessment feedback for second essay with your id and user name. Preferably submit in Word version.

1. Introduction

This section describes the question you want to address empirically, and why is important for the developing word.  This is not the place to do an extensive literature review nor describe in detail your results. However this section needs to very broadly describe the hypotheses you will test, the data used and results.  Also briefly explain your contributions. Is it new data not previously analysed? Are you answering a question more broadly/specifically? If your analysis is inconclusive, it is fine, as long as you are clear about it, and why you think found no evidence.

2. Literature Review

This section should discuss and critically review previous research that is directly relevant to your essay. You can refer to empirical or theoretical research. Discuss what can we learn from these previous studies, what are the shortcomings.

Depending on your essay topic you might also include here a subsection of historical background/setting of problem you are assessing.

3. Hypotheses to test

In this section you want to discuss the hypotheses that you are going to empirically test based on the literature review.  Provide a rational of why you are testing these hypotheses and what predictions you think are based on previous literature.  (A good example of this section is the article by Acemoglu et al. read in Topic 7)

4. Data description

This section should be in two parts. The first part should describe the name and source of the data you are using and the period it covers.

Describe whether you have a panel, cross section or  time series, what the unit of observation is and how many observations you have. Discuss limitations of the data such as missing variables, small number of observations, etc.

The second part should present (relevant) descriptive statistics of the data.  So present a table with means and standard deviations for the variables you will be using in the analysis (dependent and  independent variables). The names of the variables should be clear.

If possible present scatter plot about the main relationships you are testing.

5. Econometric Model

This section consists of two parts. First, you should write out the basic econometric specification and explain how this model will help you test your hypotheses. Discuss whether you are using basic OLS, IV, etc. and why this is appropriate.

Second, present your results. [1] Interpret the meaning of the regression coefficients, and whether they confirm your stated hypotheses and why it might be important for the development literature.

Tips on interpreting results:

-Your results tables should state your dependent variable and control variables. Report standard errors. Look at the do file we did in our stata seminar.

-Discuss the most interesting and important estimates. Are the parameter estimates are statistically significant, what is the sign? Do these estimates support your hypotheses?

-If you don’t get significance suggest why that might have the case. Do you have enough data?

-Interpret the magnitude of your parameter estimates in a meaningful way. “we find that b=0.10, so that increasing X by one unit increases y by 0.10..”.

-Compare your results to previous research. Why your results may differ from past research.

6. Conclusions

Summarize your findings and point out limitations of the results and possible extensions. This is a good place to speculate in a more casual manner about the implications of your results.

7. References

List the full references used, including any replication data you might have used from a previously published article. You can use either Harvard or Chicago referencing system.

8. Appendix

It is compulsory to include in appendix the stata do file used for econometric analysis and graphs in case these were also done in stata

Critical literature review essay

This essay provides a critical assessment of the literature. The goal of is to identify the strengths, weaknesses, conflicting evidence and gaps in the literature.

Typical structure of critical literature review essay

Insert assessment feedback for second essay with your id and user name.

Preferably submit in Word version.

1. Introduction

This section describes the purpose of your essay, what essay question you will address.

·         Explains why it is important for the developing world.

·         Provides a scope of the review, what aspects will be discussed,

·         Provides a very brief overview of the literature you will address.

·         Highlight your conclusions.

2. Main body of essay

This section critically summarises the methodologies / theories / hypotheses / models used in the literature of your chosen topic. Explains how each source has contributed to the essay question you are reviewing.

Depending on your essay question you might include more sections or sub-sections discussing:

historical background of the problem you are focusing on
mainstream versus alternative viewpoints
methodologies that the literature has used
empirical evidence that the literature has found
policies that have been implemented to address the problem (if any)
identify gaps in the literature and research (if any)
general conclusions that are being drawn.

3. Conclusion

This section provides a summary of the main agreements and disagreements in the literature.

·       Discusses any gaps or areas for further research.

·       Provides clearly your overall perspective on the topic.

Note that in this case it is not compulsory that you offer to run a randomized trial, as this will largely depend on the essay question you choose. But if you propose to use a randomized trial will need to provide information as how you propose to evaluate it.

4. References

List the full references used. They can be listed using either Harvard or Chicago referencing system.

Below you can find a couple of excellent critical reviews. Your essay will not be as extensive. But these examples highlight how you could structure your literature review essays so are written in an engaging and critical way.

-Nunn N. (2014) Historical Development In: Aghion P, Durlauf S Handbook of Economic Growth. Vol. 2. North-Holland. pp. 347-402. Available online.

-Spoloare and Wacziarg (2013) How Deep Are the Roots of Economic Development? Journal of Economic Literature, 51(2), 325-369.

Suggested essay questions

You have the freedom to choose which one of the six topics you wish to write your essay on. As mere suggestions, below you can find some essay questions you can explore in your empirical or critical literature review essay.

  1. Geography

What are the effects of geography on economic development?

Is it possible to prevent the natural resources course?

To what extent Dutch Disease can be prevented in developing countries?

What is the economic impact tropical diseases on economic development?

How deep are the roots of economic development?

  1. Institutions

To what extent financial institutions influence financial development and economic growth?

How do colonial institutions shape modern development?

How do ethnic institutions shape modern development?

How does culture shape economic performance?

Is it institutions or geography that affects long-term development?

  1. Conflict

What are the economic causes of conflict?

What are the economic consequences of conflict?

To what extent conflict (terrorism attacks) affects growth and financial markets?

Is there any real link between weather and conflict?

What strategies work best to prevent civil conflict?

  1. Democracy

Is democracy essential for economic growth?

Does democracy reduce risk of civil conflict?

Does democracy improve financial development?

Do randomized trials show how to elect better politicians?

Do more democratic countries spend more on health/education services for their citizens?

  1. Foreign Aid

Is foreign good or bad for developing countries?

Does conditioning aid help developing countries?

To what extent are foreign donors self-interested giving aid to countries they can extract benefits from?

What sort of foreign aid is the best to improve development?

Does aid reduces or increases chances of developing countries suffering conflict?

  1. Corruption

Why some countries are more corrupt than others?

What are the best practices to reduce corruption according to randomized control trials?

To what extent corruption affects development?

Does corruption offer any benefits for developing countries?

Do corrupt countries spend foreign aid more inefficiently?

Suggested literature with replication files

(data and most cases with stata do files)

The list below is not comprehensive, so you well need to do further research as what articles you will need for your essays.

In QMplus, in Books section you will find ten very popular books on international development that you can download for free. All these books are highly relevant for the topics you will be working on for your second essays, and one of them is a very comprehensive guide to how to use stata.

For those of you writing empirical essays one way to get access to stata files is to have a look at the replication files of published papers. They often have both the stata file and do files that you can use to extend or amend the analysis of a paper.

If you use the data provided here for your own essay, please provide the full citation of the article where you have obtained the data from. In your empirical essay you also need to be explicit about how you have extended or improved the data analysis of the article you have used the replication data from.

1. Economic Geography

Quamrul, A. and Galor O. (2013) The Out of Africa Hypothesis, Human Genetic Diversity and Comparative Development, American Economic Review, 103(1), 1-46 [pdf] [Data and do file]

Findley, M. G.,  Powell, J., Strandow, D. and Tanner, J. (2011) The Localized Geography of Foreign Aid: A New Dataset and Application to Violent Armed Conflict, World Development. 39(11): 1995-2009 [pdf] [replication data]

Fenske, J. and Kala N. (2015) Climate and the slave trade. Journal of Development Economics, 112: 19-32. [pdf] [replication file]

Fenske, J. (2014) Ecology, trade, and states in pre-colonial Africa, Journal of the European Economic Association, 12(3): 612-40. [pdf] [replication file]

Fenske, James. (2013) Does land abundance explain African institutions? 123(573): 1363-1390 [pdf] [replication file]

Olson, O., Hibbs, D. A. (2005) Biogeography and Long-Run Economic Development, European Economic Review, vol. 49: 909-38 [pdf] [data used, table of data as pdf]

2. Institutions

Balas, A., La  Porta, R., Lopez-de-Silanes, F. and Shleifer, A. (2009) The Divergence of Legal Procedures  American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, 1(2): 138-62. [pdf] [AppendixData]

Botero, J., Djankov, S. La Porta, R., López-de-Silanes, F. and Shleifer A. (2002) The Regulation of Entry,” Quarterly Journal of Economics, 119(4): 1339-82. [pdf] [Data Description Dataset XLS]

Botero, J., Djankov, S., La Porta, R., Lopez-de-Silanes, F. (2005) The Regulation of Labor, Quarterly Journal of Economics, 119(4): 1339-82. [pdf][Dataset (XLS]

Djankov, S., La Porta, R., Lopez-de-Silanes, F. and Shleifer A. (2010) Disclosure by Politicians. American Economic Journal: Applied economics 2(2); 179-209. [pdf] [dataset in excel]

Michalopoulos, S. Papaioannou, 2013. Pre-colonial Ethnic Institutions and Contemporary African Development Econometrica, 81(1): 113-152. [paper] [Supplementary Appendix] [[data-programs] [maps/figures]

Neumayer, E., Nunnenkamp, P., and Roy, M Are Stricter Investment Rules Contagious? Host Country Competition for Foreign Direct Investment through International Agreements Review of World Economics (forthcoming) [pdf] [Data (zipped] [Do-file]

Glaeser, E., La Porta, R., López-de-Silanes, F. and Shleifer, A. (2004) Do Institutions Cause Growth?, Journal of Economic Growth, 9(3): 271-303. [pdf]  [Dataset XLS]

La Porta, R., López-de-Silanesf, and A. Shleifer (2006) What Works in Securities Laws, Journal of Finance,61(1). [pdf] [Dataset (XLS) and Documentation]

La Porta, R., López-de-Silanes, F. and Shleifer, A. (2002) Investor Protection and Corporate Valuation, Journal of Finance, 62(3). [pdf] [Dataset XLS]

La Porta, R., López-de-Silanes, F. and Shleifer, A. (2008) The Economic Consequences of Legal Origins, Journal of Economic Literature, 46(2): 285-332. [pdf] [Dataset XLS]

La Porta and Shleifer A. (2008) The Unofficial Economy and Economic Development, Brookings Papers on Economic Activity. [pdf] [Dataset]

3. Conflict

de Soysa I. and Neumayer, E.  (2008) Disarming Fears of Diversity: Ethnic Heterogeneity and State Militarization, 1988-2002, Journal of Peace Research, 45 (4): 497-518 [pdf] [Data] [Do-file]

de Soysa I. and Neumayer, E.  (2007) Natural Resources and Civil War: Another Look with New Data, Conflict Management and Peace Science, 24(3): 201-218 [pdf] [Data1]  [Data2] [Data3] [Data4] [Do-file]

Hsiang, S., Burke, M. and Miguel, E. (2013) Quantifying the Influence of Climate on Human Conflict. Science, [pdf] [replication data, do file]

Miguel, E., Saiegh, S. M. and Satyanath, S. (2011) Civil War Exposure and Violence Economics & Politics 23 (1): 59-73. [paper] [replication data, do file]

Neumayer, E.  and Plümper T. (2006) The Unequal Burden of War: The Effect of Armed Conflict on the Gender Gap in Life Expectancy, International Organization, 60 (3): 723-754 [pdf] [Data] [Do-file]

Nielsen, R. A., Findley, M. G., Davis, Z. S. Candland, T. and Nielson, D. L. (2011) Foreign Aid Shocks as a Cause of Violent Armed Conflict, American Journal of Political Science, 55(2): 219-32. [pdf] [replication data]

4. Democracy

Hsieh, C.-T., Miguel, E., Ortega, D. and Rodriguez. F. (2011) The Price of Political Opposition: Evidence from Venezuela’s Maisanta. American Economic Journal: Applied Economics 3 (2): 196-214. [pdf] [replication material]

Jablonski, R., Gibson, C. Hoffman B. (2015) Did Aid Promote Democracy in Africa? The Role of Technical Assistance in Africa’s Transitions. World Development, 68: 323-35. [pdf] [replication material]

Manuel Barron,M.  Miguel, E. and Satyanath. S (2014) Economic Shocks and Democratization in Africa, Political Science Research and Methods, 2(1): 33-47. [pdf] [data]

Neumayer, E.  (2002) Do Democracies Exhibit Stronger International Environmental Commitment?, Journal of Peace Research, 39 (2): 139-164 [pdf] [Data] [Do-file]

Papaioannou, E. and Siourounis S. (2008) Democratization and Growth Economic Journal. October 2008, 118(10): 1520-1551.[paper]  [Supplementary Appendix] [data] [programs]

Papaioannou, E. Siourounis, G. (2008) Economic and Social Factors Driving the Third Wave of Democratization Journal of Comparative Economics, 36(3): 365-387. [paper] [Supplementary Appendix; Country Details] [data] [programs]

5. Foreign Aid

Bornemisza, O., Bridge, J.,  Olszak-Olszewski, M., Sakvarelidze, G. and Lazarus, J. V. (2010) Health Aid Governance in Fragile States: The Global Fund Experience, Global Health Governance, 4(1): 1-18. [pdf] [replication data in excel]

Casey, K., Glennerster, R. and Miguel. E. (2012) Reshaping Institutions: Evidence on Aid Impacts Using a Preanalysis Plan. Quarterly Journal of Economics 127 (4): 1755-1812. [paper] [replication file]

Clist, P., Isopi, A. and Morrissey, O. (2012) Selectivity on Aid Modality: Determinants of Budget Support from Multilateral Donors, Review of International Organizations, 7(3): 267-287. [pdf] [replication data]

Dalgaard, C. J. and Hansen H. (2010) On Aid, Growth and Good Policies Journal of Development Studies, 37(6): 17-41. [pdf] [replication data]

Doucouliagos D. and Paldam, M. (2011) The Ineffectiveness of Development Aid on Growth: An update, European Journal of Political Economy, 27 (2): 399-404. [pdf] [replicatin files]

Neumayer, E. and Perkins, R. (2010) The organized hypocrisy of ethical foreign policy: Human rights, democracy and Western arms sales, Geoforum, 41 (2):247-256 [pdf] [Data] [Do-file]

Winters, M. (2014) Targeting accountability and capture in development projects, International Studies Quarterly. 58(2): 397-404. [pdf] [replication data]

Winters, M. and Martinez, G. (2015) The role of governance in determining foreign aid flow composition. World Development, 66: 516-31. [pdf] [replication file]

6. Corruption

Anderson, T. B., Bentzen, J. And Selaya, P. (2011) Does the Internet Reduce Corruption? Evidence from U.S. States and Across Countries. World Bank Economic Review 25, 2011, 387-417. [pdf] [replication data]

Raymond, F. and Miguel., E. (2007) Corruption, Norms and Legal Enforcement: Evidence from Diplomatic Parking Tickets. Journal of Political Economy 115 (6): 1020-1048. [pdf] [replication materials]

Fredriksson, P. G., Neumayer, E. and Ujhelyi, G. (2007) Kyoto Protocol Cooperation: Does Government Corruption Facilitate Environmental Lobbying? Public Choice, 133 (1-2): 231-251 [pdf] [Data] [Do-file]

Household Surveys Free of Charge. Data repositories

You can also gathered data directly from data repositories. Here a few useful links.


Survey data on democracy, inequality, corruption, violence, perception on institutions). Data across various African countries over time (six surveys conducted in various countries over time so far)



Survey data on democracy, inequality, corruption, violence, perception on institutions. Data across various Asian countries over time (four surveys for most countries over time)


Latin American Public Opinion Project (LAPOP)

Survey data on democracy, inequality, corruption, violence, perception on institutions. Data across various Latin American Countries, Canada and USA (2004, 2006, 2008, 2010, 2012, and 2014).


International Organizations free data repository

International Monetary Fund (IMF)


World Bank Data Repository.

Very comprehensive cross-country data across various themes.


World Health Organization Data repository.


Databases on Corruption

-International Country Risk Guide: http://www.prsgroup.com/countrydata/countrydata.html

-Transparency International:



-EBRD world bank business environment and Enterprise Performance Survey: http://data.worldbank.org/data-catalog/BEEPS

-Global Witness: https://www.globalwitness.org/en-gb

-Anti-corruption research network: http://corruptionresearchnetwork.org/resources/datasets


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