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Poverty and Development DV2192

This course focuses on explaining the nature of economic and human development in the developing world, and why some countries and regions have become developed while others have not.


This course may not be taken with:

GY2109 Geographies of development.

Topics covered

Poverty and Development

  • Theories of poverty and development: An introduction to theories of poverty and well-being.
  • Poverty and the economic lives of the poor: How poverty can be defined and measured in the developing world; the reality of the day-to-day lives of the poor.

A history of poverty, development and inequality

  • Colonialism and development: The relationship between colonialism and development: impact of various factors on development and poverty reduction in the post-colonial world.
  • Economic growth, inequality and development: The relationship between economic growth, inequality and development.

Demographic change, poverty and development

  • Demography and development: The relationship between development and major demographic phenomena, specifically fertility decline, mortality decline, population growth and population ageing.
  • Urbanisation, slums and urban bias: The relationship between urbanisation and development in a broad sense. Origins of modern urbanisation and slums.
  • Health and poverty: An overview of the relationship between health and development. It focuses both on how and when better health leads to higher levels of development.

The politics of poverty and development

  • Democracy and development I - from development to democracy: How and why development leads to democracy. Ways in which poverty can hinder democratisation and its effect on the rate of democratisation in the developing world.
  • Democracy and development II - from democracy to poverty reduction: The effect of democracy on poverty reduction and development. Ways in which democratisation should lead to poverty alleviation but often does not, and why poverty reduction can be so difficult in democratic contexts.
  • Poverty and famines: Overview of the causes of famine, examining major theories of Malthus and Sen on the relationship between food availability, access to food and democracy.
  • Conflict and development: The relationship between conflict and development; how and why poverty can lead to violence and war.

Learning outcomes

If you complete the course successfully, you should be able to:

  • Summarize and explain the various meanings of development and poverty
  • Demonstrate a good understanding of the diversity of development experiences across various parts of the developing world (Africa, Asia and Latin America) as well as within each region
  • Explain the history of development, both as regards the development experiences of now-developed countries as well as the pre-colonial, colonial and post-colonial histories of the developing world
  • Discuss the various proposed causes and effects of development and their causal relationships with development, including health, education, inequality, conflict and demographic change
  • Demonstrate knowledge of the politics of development, both as how development can affect democratization and how democratization can affect development and poverty reduction.


Unseen written exam (3 hrs).

Essential reading

  • Acemoglu, D. & J. A. Robinson. Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity and Poverty (Profile Books, 2013) [ISBN 9781846684302]
  • Angus Deaton (2013): The Great Escape: Health, Wealth and the Origins of Inequality (Princeton University Press)
  • Sen, A. Development as freedom. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999) [ISBN 9780192893307].

Course information sheets

Download the course information sheets from theĀ LSE website.