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Development Economics (MSc Economics)


The Development Economics track gives you the in-depth knowledge and expertise to help spur growth in developing economies. This track is 1 of 6 tracks you can opt for in our Master's in Economics.

Unravel complex interdependencies

In this track you learn how to formulate your balanced, but critical views on matters of developmental policy. You unravel the complex interdependencies on the basis of empirical evidence. In this track the Amsterdam School of Economics joins with the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam; stimulating different views and discussion.

This track applies a microeconomic approach to the international economy. The track International Finance and Trade is its more macro-focused counterpart.

Why choose the Development Economics track?

  1. Beside the 3 general courses of the MSc Economics in your curriculum, you will take 3 courses with focus on a microeconomic approach to the international economy.
  2. This track is a joint cooperation of Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam and the University of Amsterdam. Therefore, you will be lectured by professors from both universities, which stimulates different views and discussions.
  3. After graduation, you have an excellent job prospect at for example NGOs and (inter)national governments.
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Track-specific courses

Apart from the 3 general courses of the full programme, you will follow 3 track-specific courses.

  • Policy Evaluation: Development and Public Policy

    This course introduces you to contemporary methods of policy evaluation. You will study their applications related to topics such as education, health, nutrition, crime, microfinance, gender and labour issues. You will read and prepare papers in order to explain important aspects of these papers during the weekly meetings.

  • Microeconomics for Development

    In this course you will apply microeconomics to topics in development economics. The aim is not to be complete, but to select a number of 6 well-studied topics, stressing their empirical foundation. You will discuss the concepts, measurement of poverty and the evaluation of policy impact extensively. During the course, we will use empirical evidence.

  • Experimental Economics

    In this course you will learn the basic methodology of experimental economics: how to design a simple experiment, including writing instructions. You will practice both with laboratory and field experimentation evolving around:

    • industrial organisation;
    • labour economics;
    • behavioural economics;
    • individual and group decision making.
Real-life case: how to reduce poverty

Good ideas on how to reduce poverty abound. But do these really address the key problems facing the poor? And is there solid evidence that they have impacted the lives of the poor in the past? In Development Economics we discuss theories and empirical methods that can help to answer such questions. Your input will help shape the debate.

Contemporary issues

Examples of current newspaper headlines and relevant issues that could be discussed in your classroom.

  • What is the effect of microfinance on consumption in rural villages?
  • Economic impacts of illness, coping strategies, health insurance and crowding-out effects: evidence from a financial diary survey in Nigeria.
  • Community driven development, social capital & inequality: assessing the impact of the Indonesian Urban Poverty Project on Social Capital.
Contemporary research

From Cheating to Learning: An Evaluation of Fraud Prevention on National Exams in Indonesia

This is an example of current research being done by your professors.
Cheating reduces the signal value of exam data and it might shift the focus of teachers and students away from learning. However, it is difficult to prevent cheating if it is widespread. We evaluate the impact of computer-based testing (CBT) on national exam scores in junior secondary schools in Indonesia, exploiting the phased roll-out of the programme from 2015 to 2019.

  1. First, we find that test scores decline dramatically after the introduction of CBT, with school-level means declining by 0.4 standard deviation. Schools with response patterns that indicate cheating experience an increased drop in their test scores.
  2. Second, scores rebound within two years after introducing CBT, suggesting that barriers to cheating provide incentives for learning.
  3. Third, we find evidence of spillover effects from CBT within districts. Cheating declines more in schools that have not yet switched to CBT if more schools located in the same districts make the switch, suggesting that CBT not only eliminates cheating but makes it less socially permissible. 

Career prospects

Graduates of the Master's programme in Economics/Development Economics track have excellent job prospects for positions as researchers and experts in:

  • NGO’s;
  • (inter)nationally operating consultancies;
  • (inter)national governments.
Facts & Figures
Degree programme MSc Economics
Mode Full-time
Credits 60 ECTS, 12 months
Language of instruction English
Starts in September
CROHO code 66401
Location Roeterseiland campus