Development Policy is an economic development survey course that addresses critical policy choices facing government, businesses and communities. We cover topics largely through the lens of Vietnam's recent experience and that of other large Southeast Asian countries. While richer than they were 50 years ago, these countries have pursued different development trajectories, with contrasting results in terms of economic growth, living standards, and social and economic inequality. Understanding the causes of these divergent outcomes gives us a window on the role of policy and other factors affecting development.
The course emphasizes the careful use of evidence—data collection, quality, modeling and presentation. Formulating sound policies requires rigorous and unbiased use of evidence and a willingness to suspend judgement until the facts are known. This does not always—or even generally—mean sophisticated statistical techniques. Often a simple, well-constructed table of reliable indicators is more useful than a sophisticated econometric model, especially in policy circles and for the media and general public.
A second major theme is the appropriate balance between markets and government. Finding the right mix of instruments requires attention to context and careful assessment of how markets and governments interact, and managing the risks associated with market failure and government failure.