All course information is listed within this syllabus.

CEDEV 597B: Topics in Economic Development (3 credits). This course provides an overview of modern approaches to developing places and regions, including policy options and limitations; fundamental reasons for the worldwide decline of some rural areas and the growth of cities are also explored.

Prerequisites: CEDEV 430 and STAT 500 or STAT 800


Instructor for CEDEV 597B

Stephan Goetz, Ph.D.
Professor of Agricultural and Regional Economics
Director of Northeast Regional Center for Rural Development

207-C Armsby Building
University Park, PA 16802

CEDEV 597B examines modern approaches to improving human conditions in the different places, counties, and regions of the United States. While priority is placed on less-developed places, the roles of cities as economic growth magnets, and the reasons for agglomeration are also explored along with rural-urban interdependence.

This course is structured into 12 modules. The course is synchronous in that you are part of a cohort taking the course at the same time. There are regular due dates for assignments, and a fixed start and end date for the course. An important component is an interaction with other students taking the course at the same time.

The course starts with a treatment of economic growth conditions and fundamentals around the globe and explores some of the correlates with economic growth (as opposed to causes and effects). This is followed by an overview of modern models of economic growth, with a particular focus on the conceptual roles of capital and labor, as well as the national savings and population growth rates. One week is then spent reviewing important ideas in economic history, and how these ideas influence economic development though and policy even today. The powerful forces that attract people into cities are examined along with regional labor markets and the role of natural amenities in development. Two important forms of capital in economic development are then reviewed: human and social. The course concludes with an examination of the limitations to seeking economic growth from outside as opposed to inside the community. The last module is spent on income inequality, a topic that is becoming increasingly important.

Each week's module will contain multiple elements for teaching and learning. While each week's lessons can differ, you will normally see the components below in each module:

  • Objectives -- Main points that will guide you through the framing essay, readings, and discussion forums. These will give you an idea of the new ideas you should be comfortable with by the end of the module.
  • Framing Essay -- Introductions to the readings and the key concepts developed in the readings. Look at these before doing the readings for the week. They may clear up some confusing terms or concepts in the module.
  • Readings and Supplemental Resources -- You can find these either through links provided in the "Required Readings" section of each module or through the library electronic reserves. The reading list provided in each module is put in a specific order by the professor. It is recommended to read them in that order as each reading will build off the concepts in the previous readings.
  • Discussions -- Online discussions that focus on questions or reading analysis, primarily asynchronous in nature. Each of you has your own schedules, so I suggest that you allow enough time before the semester speeds up for this class. Then, reserve a brief amount of time each day specifically for checking and updating the discussion topics. This will make the course manageable and will give you optimal benefits. Your first postings are due by the end of the day on Thursday and your responses to others' postings are to be done by Sunday. This will give enough time for discussions to develop. A separate area for questions you may have about the readings is provided. This is an area where you can ask about ideas or issues that were not clear in the readings. Other students are encouraged to respond, as will the instructor.
  • Assignments -- A variety of assignments will be given throughout the semester. Details on these can be found in the modules in which they are assigned. The due dates for all assignments in the course can be found in the course schedule.

For many of you, you will find the course structure very familiar. If this is your first online learning experience you may find it a bit strange, so be sure to let your instructor know if you have particular concerns or difficulties. We will be looking for your comments and suggestions throughout the course, and for your participation in making this a valuable learning experience.


What Is Expected of Our Group and Its Members (Learning Community)

  • Shared responsibility -- While your purposes for taking this course may vary, our learning activities will draw upon peer insight and feedback and involve us in various combinations of individual and collaborative learning activities. Each of us should contribute to our web of learning, as well as benefit from it.
  • Keep on top of things -- Please establish a routine that allows you to regularly pace yourself and remain actively involved with course activities. While you can choose which time of the day and which days of the module you log on and contribute, please do not disadvantage yourself and the rest of us by falling behind. The pace of this course is intense enough to make catching up a challenge. Log on at least three times per module to keep abreast of new postings, current e-mails, updated discussion, and overall course progress.
  • Prepare for absences -- I encourage you to work one lesson ahead, at least with the readings, as protection against job stress and personal or family illness (and nice summer evenings!). If you need to be away from the course due to personal or family needs, please communicate with me and your team members via course email. If unexpected or extenuating circumstances arise that will keep you from being an active contributor, please communicate with me and I will do the same with you.
  • Issues of confidentiality, privacy, and ethics -- As professionals, we face ethical issues frequently. Having the academic freedom to express ourselves in class demands that we protect each other's confidentiality outside of class. I expect that what is "said" on our course site will stay there.

Academic Integrity -- Policy 49-20 of the Student Handbook will be followed in this course. This policy says, in part, "Academic integrity is the pursuit of scholarly activity free from fraud and deception and is an educational objective of this institution. Academic dishonesty includes, but is not limited to cheating, plagiarism, fabrication of information or citations, facilitating acts of academic dishonesty by others, unauthorized prior possession of examinations, submitting work of another person or work previously used without informing the instructor, or tampering with the academic work of other students."

What You Can Expect of Your Instructor

  • Contact and presence -- My goal is to acknowledge or respond to personal and group questions, suggestions, dilemmas, or other course-related issues within 48 hours. However, the grading of course assignments usually takes longer.
  • Flexibility -- As noted above, the instructor is prepared to accommodate vacations, illnesses, and job emergencies, provided that there is a reasonable prospect or plan for making up the work. If you need to be late with an assignment or prefer to do something else suitable to that topic, please discuss it with your instructor ahead of time. The instructor reserves the right to rescind this privilege if they feel it is being abused (e.g. not starting a project until the day before it is due does not constitute an emergency worthy of extending a deadline).
  • Sense of community -- This course has been designed to operate within a learning community: having a shared purpose (course goals), a distinctive place to gather, promoting effective work products from within our group (module assignments), establishing accepted norms (netiquette and mutual expectations), and allowing for a range of member roles and participation (team projects and responses to postings).

Course Outline

Module 1: Introduction to Economic Development Fundamentals
Module 2: The Determinants of Economic Growth
Module 3: A Brief History of Economic Thought and Why It Matters Today
Module 4: Economic Development Policy
Module 5: Agglomeration Economies and the Pull of Cities
Module 6: Regional Labor Markets and Models
Module 7: Amenities and Development
Module 8: Human Capital
Module 9: Social Capital
Module 10: Firm Location Theory and TRED Case Studies
Module 11: Development from Within: Entrepreneurship
Module 12: Inequality

Module 1: Introduction to Economic Development Fundamentals

Learning Objectives

Upon completion of this module you will be able to:

  • Develop a basic understanding of the differences in fundamental economic conditions around the world, as well as the United States.
  • Discuss some of the correlates of economic growth.

Required Reading (and Viewing)

Module 2: The Determinants of Economic Growth

Learning Objectives

Upon completion of this module you will be able to:

  • Develop a basic understanding of the fundamental causes of economic growth.
  • Explain and describe the significance of the Solow model.
  • Articulate what the New Growth Theory is and what it implies for economic development.

Required Reading

  • Comin, Diego, William Easterly and Erick Gong (2010), "Was the Wealth of Nations Determined in 1000 BC?" American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, 2 (July), 65-97. READ pp. 65-88 only.
  • Landes, David S. (2006), "Why Europe and the West? Why Not China?" Journal of Economic Perspectives 20(2), 3-22.
  • Acemoglu, Daron (2009), "Fundamental Determinants of Differences in Economic Performance," Ch. 4 in Introduction to Modern Economic Growth, pp. 109-143.

Optional Reading

  • Spolarore, Enrico and Romain Wacziarg (2013), "How Deep are the Roots of Economic Development?" Journal of Economic Literature, 51(2), 325-369.

Module 3: A Brief History of Economic Thought and Why It Matters Today

Learning Objectives

Upon completion of this module you will be able to:

  • Describe key strands of economic thought and relate them to modern economic development goals and approaches.
  • Explain the Malthusian trap and how humans were able to escape from it.
  • Identify the seven lessons from the last 100 years of research on rural development and regional issues (discussed in the Irwin et al. 2010 paper).

Required Reading

It is often said that a better understanding of economic history would have helped us to avoid the worst of the recent crisis. Over the next few weeks Free exchange will consider milestones in economic history, showing how they contributed to the development of economic thought.

  • Irwin, Elena G., Andrew Isserman, Maureen Kilkenny and Mark D. Partridge (2010), "A Century of Research on Rural Development and Regional Issues," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, 92(2): 522-553.

Module 4: Economic Development Policy

Learning Objectives

Upon completion of this module you will be able to:

  • Distinguish among the major waves of economic development thought in the U.S.
  • Outline what is meant by the Washington Consensus and how it is used or applied today.
  • Develop a broad initial understanding of what public policy can and cannot do to accomplish various economic development objectives.

Required Reading

  • The Economist article on the Washington Consensus (2013).
  • Deller, Steven C. and Stephan J. Goetz (2009), "Historical Description of Economic Development Policy," Ch. 2 in Stephan J. Goetz, Steven C. Deller and Thomas R. Harris, Targeting Regional Economic Development, Routledge, the UK, pp. 17-34.
    **note that this is partially a review of readings in CEDEV 430.
  • Goetz, Stephan J., Mark D. Partridge, Dan S. Rickman and Shibalee Majumdar (2011), "Sharing the Gains of Local Economic Growth: Race-to-the-Top Versus Race-to-the-Bottom Economic Development," Environment and Policy C: Government and Policy, 29, pp. 428-456.
  • Weinstein, A. and M.D. Partridge (2011) "How Can Struggling Communities Make a Comeback?" Swank Center Publication, Ohio State University.

Optional Reading

  • Moretti, E. (2012), Chapter 6 in The New Geography of Jobs: "Poverty Traps and Sexy Cities," pp. 178-214.
  • Partridge, Mark D. and M. Rose Olfert (2011) "The Winners' Choice: Sustainable Economic Strategies for Successful 21st-Century Regions," Applied Economics Perspectives and Policy. doi:10.1093/aepp/ppr006
  • Ravallion, Martin (2013), The Idea of Antipoverty Policy, NBER Working Paper No. 19210, 100+pp.
  • Poverty was not always an issue that society thought needed to be addressed.
  • Busso, M., J. Gregory and P.M. Kline (2010) "Assessing the Incidence and Efficiency of a Prominent Place-Based Policy," NBER Working Paper 16096, 69pp.

Module 5: Agglomeration Economies and the Pull of Cities

Learning Objectives

Upon completion of this module you will be able to:

  • Develop an understanding of the major forces driving urbanization, and what this means for areas that are not growing (i.e., non-urban regions).
  • Explain what urban agglomeration benefits may imply for place-based policies.

Required Readings

  • United Nations (2011) "World Urbanization Prospects: The 2011 Revision," Economic and Social Affairs, New York, NY. Skim Executive Summary only.
  • Puga, Diego (2010) "The Magnitude and Causes of Agglomeration Economies," Journal of Regional Science 50(1): 203-219.
  • Quigley, John M. (1998) "Urban Diversity and Economic Growth" Journal of Economic Perspectives 12(2): 127-138.
  • Partridge, Mark D. and Dan S. Rickman (2008) "Distance from Urban Agglomeration Economies and Rural Poverty," Journal of Regional Science, 48(2): 285-310.

Optional Readings

  • Newbold, K. Bruce (2012) "Migration and Regional Science: Opportunities and Challenges in a Changing World," Annals of Regional Science 48: 451-468.
  • Partridge, Mark D., Dan S. Rickman, Kamar Ali and M. Rose Olfert (2008) "Lost in Space: Population Growth in the American Hinterlands in Small Cities," Journal of Economic Geography, 8: 727-757.
  • Grassmueck, G., S.J. Goetz and M. Shields (2008) Youth Out-Migration from Pennsylvania: The Roles of Government Fragmentation vs. the Beaten Path Effect, Journal of Regional Analysis and Policy, 38(1): 77-88.

Module 6: Regional Labor Markets and Models

Learning Objectives

Upon completion of this module you will be able to:

  • Explain how labor supply and demand decisions are made, how labor market areas are derived, and the roles of migration and commuting.
  • Discuss why a given local economic development activity may not reduce local unemployment rates.

Required Readings

  • Goetz, S.J. (2014) "Labor Market Theory and Models," Ch. 6 in M.M. Fischer and P. Nijkamp (eds.) Handbook of Regional Science, Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg.
  • Renkow, M. (2003) "Employment Growth, Worker Mobility, and Rural Economic Development," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, 85(2):503-513.
  • Partridge, M.D. and D.S. Rickman (2009) "Who Wins From Local Economic Development?" Economic Development Quarterly, 23: 13-27.

Optional Readings

  • Goetz, S.J. and Y. Han (2013) "County Information Networks, Social Capital and
  • Poverty Reduction," paper presented at the Atlanta Fed Conference on Rural Poverty Reduction, December 2-3.

Module 7: Amenities and Development

Learning Objectives

Upon completion of this module you will be able to:

  • Explain how various dimensions of natural amenities have been defined and measured by the USDA's Economic Research Service, at the county level.
  • Describe and critically evaluate the effect of these amenities on economic development, and what it means to control for spatial dependence bias in econometric models, in this context.

Required Readings

  • The USDA-ERS's website is here, along with the documentation describing each sub-index on the natural amenities scale.
  • Deller, S.C., T.-H. Tsai, D.W. Marcoullier and D.B.K. English (2001), "The Role of Amenities and Quality of Life in Rural Economic Growth," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, 83(2): 352-365.
  • Rogerson, P.A. (2006), 2nd Ed. Statistical Methods for Geography: A Student's Guide, Sage Publications. Read Chapters 10: Spatial Patterns (pp. 222-243) and 11: Some Spatial Aspects of Regression Analysis (pp. 244-256).
  • Goetz, S.J. (2013) "Identifying Food Industry Clusters: A Comparison of Analytical Tools," Ch. 15 in S.J. Goetz, S.C. Deller, T.R. Harris, Targeting Regional Economic Development, Routledge Studies in Global Competition, Taylor and Francis, London and New York. Read especially pp. 297, and study Figures 15.2a-c. ISBN13: 978-0-415-74354-9 (pbk).
  • Partridge, M.D., D.S. Rickman, K. Ali and M.R. Olfert (2008), "The Geographic Diversity of US Nonmetropolitan Growth Dynamics: A Geographically Weighted Regression Approach," Land Economics 84(2): 241-266.
  • Markeson, B. and S. Deller (2012), "Growth of Rural US Non-Farm Proprietors With a Focus on Amenities," Review of Urban and Regional Development Studies, Volume 24, Issue 3, pages 83-105, November 2012.

Optional Readings

  • Partridge, M.D., D.S. Rickman, K. Ali and M.R. Olfert (2010), "Recent Spatial Growth Dynamics in Wages and Housing Costs: Proximity to Urban Production Externalities and Consumer Amenities," Regional Science and Urban Econ., 40(2010): 440-52.

Module 8: Human Capital

Learning Objectives

Upon completion of this module you will be able to:

  • Discuss the effect of educational attainment (human capital) on economic development and growth, including the differences in returns to education in urban and rural communities.
  • Identify some of the factors associated with higher stocks of human capital.
  • Explain the possibilities and limits of attracting creative workers as an economic development strategy.

Required Readings

  • Read the introduction to the Wikipedia article on Human Capital.
  • Goetz, Stephan J. and Anil Rupasingha (2004) "The returns to education in rural areas," The Review of Regional Studies, 34(3): 245-259.
  • Barkley, David, Mark Henry and Haizhen Li (2005) "Does Human Capital Affect Rural Economic Growth: Evidence from the South," in L. Beaulieu and R. Gibbs, eds., The Role of Education: Promoting the Economic and Social Vitality of Rural America, SRDC, USDA ERS and the Rural School and Community Trust, pp. 10-15.
  • Goetz, Stephan J. and Dayuan Hu (1996) "Economic Growth and Human Capital Accumulation: Simultaneity and Expanded Convergence Tests," Economics Letters 51(3): 355-362.
  • McGranahan, D.A., & Wojan, T.R. "The Creative Class: A Key to Rural Growth," Amber Waves 5:2 (April 2007):16-21.
  • McGranahan, D.A., Wojan, T.R., & Lambert, D.M. "The Rural Growth Trifecta: Outdoor Amenities, Creative Class and Entrepreneurial Context," Journal of Economic Geography 11:3 (May 2011):529-557.
  • Donaldson, Caitlin Cullen and Suzanne O'Keefe (2013) "The Effects of Manufacturing on Educational Attainment and Real Income," Economic Development Quarterly, 27(4): 316-324.

Optional Readings

Module 9: Social Capital

Learning Objectives

Upon completion of this module you will be able to:

  • Describe your understanding of social networks, and how they can be measured.
  • Discuss how social capital can be measured at the county level and the factors that are associated with higher stocks of the variable.

To be able to discuss the effect of social capital in counties on poverty reduction, in comparison to other explanatory variables.

Required Readings

  • Borgatti, Stephen P., Ajay Mehra, Daniel J. Brass, Giuseppe Labianca (2009) "Network Analysis in the Social Sciences," Science, Vol. 323 no. 5916 pp. 892-895 DOI: 10.1126/science.1165821 (a review).
  • Eagle, Nathan, Michael Macy, Rob Claxton (2010) "Network Diversity and Economic Development," Science Vol. 328 no. 5981 pp. 1029-1031 DOI: 10.1126/science.1186605.
  • Rupasingha, Anil, Stephan J. Goetz and David Freshwater (2006) "The production of social capital in US counties," Journal of Socio-Economics, 35(1): 83-101.
  • Rupasingha, Anil and Stephan J Goetz (2007), "Social and political forces as determinants of poverty: A spatial analysis," Journal of Socio-Economics 36(4): 650-671.

Optional Readings

  • Ashleigh Keene and Steven C. Deller (2014) "Evidence of the Environmental Kuznets' Curve among US Counties and the Impact of Social Capital," International Regional Science Review, first published on September 5, 2013 as doi:10.1177/0160017613496633.

Module 10: Firm Location Theory and TRED Case Studies

Learning Objectives

Upon completion of this module you will be able to:

  • Explain how location theory can be used to inform targeted regional economic development activities.
  • Discuss the arguments against and in favor of industrial recruitment activities.
  • Explain how economic recruitment activities from the outside can be made more effective, using various approaches.

Required Readings

  • Read/skim the following Chapters in the Targeting Regional Economic Development (TRED book, Goetz et al. editors, 2009)
  • Chapter 4: Overview of firm location theory and TRED
  • Chapter 7: Modeling the probability of manufacturing activity in the Great Plains
  • Chapter 10: Targeting industry clusters for regional economic development: the REDRL approach
  • Chapter 14: The community business matching model: Combining community and business goals and assets to target rural economic development
  • Chapter 19: Import substitution and the analysis of gaps and disconnects

Optional Readings

Module 11: Development from Within: Entrepreneurship

Learning Objectives

Upon completion of this module you will be able to:

  • Discuss and explain some of the key determinants of entrepreneurship or self-employment growth and its effects in terms of local economic development.
  • Discuss the importance of local ownership of firms, and why it matters.
  • Identify some of the factors that make for a more favorable entrepreneurial climate in a community.

Required Readings

  • Goetz, S.J. (2013) Entrepreneurship, Ch. 8 in G. Green, Editor, The Handbook of Rural Development, Edward Elgar Publ., Northampton, Mass. USA.
  • Fleming, D. and S.J. Goetz (2011) "Does Local Firm Ownership Matter?" Economic Development Quarterly, 25(3): 277-281.
  • Goetz, S.J. and D. Freshwater (2001) "State-Level Measures of Entrepreneurship and a Preliminary Measure of Entrepreneurial Climate," Economic Development Quarterly, 15(1):58-70.
  • Goetz, S.J., M.D. Partridge, S.C. Deller and D.A. Fleming (2010) "Evaluating U.S. Rural Entrepreneurship Policy," Journal of Regional Analysis and Policy, 40(1): 20-33.

Optional Readings

  • Kwon, S-W., C. Heflin and M. Ruef (2013) "Community Social Capital and Entrepreneurship," American Sociological Review 78(6): 980-1008.
  • Markeson, B. and S. Deller (2013) "Growth of Rural US Non-Farm Proprietors with a Focus on Amenities," Review of Urban and Regional Development Studies 24(3): 83-105.
  • Goetz, S.J., D.A. Fleming and A. Rupasingha (2012) "The Economic Impacts of Self-Employment," Journal of Agricultural and Applied Economics, 44(3): 315-321.
  • Brown, J.P., S.J. Goetz, M.C. Ahearn and C.L. Liang (2014) "Linkages Between Community-Focused Agriculture, Farm Sales, and Regional Growth," Economic Development Quarterly, in press.

Module 12: Inequality

Learning Objectives

Upon completion of this module you will be able to:

  • Describe what has been happening to income inequality over time in the United States, and also explain how inequality is defined or calculated.
  • Discuss some of the major causes or determinants of income inequality, as well as mobility. Also, discuss the potential impact of income inequality.
  • Develop a basic understanding of how income inequality is measured.

Required Readings

Optional Readings

  • Alvaredo, F., A. B. Atkinson, T. Piketty and E. Saez (2013) "The Top 1 Percent in International and Historical Perspective," Journal of Economic Perspectives, 27(3): 3-20.
  • Mankiw, N.G. (2013) "Defending the One Percent," Journal of Economic Perspectives, 27(3): 21-34.
  • Corak, M. (2013) "Income Inequality, Equality of Opportunity and Intergenerational Mobility," Journal of Economic Perspectives, 27(3): 79-102.

Course Schedule

For due dates, refer to the Course Summary on the Syllabus page in Canvas.

Course Materials

The following book is required and can be purchased from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or possibly from a local bookstore:

Goetz, S.J., S. Deller and T. Harris, editors, Targeting Regional Economic Development, Routledge/Taylor and Francis Group, UK, 2009, 410pp
Paperback (2013): ISBN13: 978-0-415-74354-9
E-Book: ISBN13: 978-0-203-88349-5

Note: This course provides an overview of modern approaches to developing places and regions, including policy options and limitations. Fundamental reasons for the worldwide decline of some rural areas and the growth of cities are also explored.


Weekly assignments: (200 points maximum)

  • Discussions (5 pts each x 12 weeks) = 60 total points
  • Essays (5 pts each x 12 weeks) = 60 total points
  • Final paper: synthesis and application of course concepts to a community chosen by the student = 60 points maximum possible

Grading Policy

Grading Criteria
Requirement Cumulative Point Value Weight
Discussions 60 30%
Essays 60 30%
Final Paper 60 40%
TOTAL: 180 100%
Grading Scheme
Letter Grade Percentage
A 100% – 94%
A- < 94% – 90%
B+ < 90% – 87%
B < 87% – 84%
B- < 84% – 80%
C+ < 80% – 77%
C < 77% – 70%
D < 70% – 60%
F < 60%

Please refer to the University Grading Policy for Graduate Courses for additional information.

NOTE: If you are planning to graduate this semester, please communicate your intent to graduate to your instructor. This will alert your instructor to the need to submit your final grade in time to meet the published graduation deadlines. For more information about graduation policies and deadlines, please see "Graduation" under World Campus Student Resources.

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Technical Requirements

This course is offered online and it is assumed you possess the minimum system requirements and computing skills to participate effectively. A list of technical requirements is listed on World Campus' Penn State Technical Requirements page.

Minimum Skills

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