Spring 2021

Economic Distribution and Growth from the Neolithic to the Modern Age

Listed in: Economics, as ECON-472


Daniel P. Barbezat (Section 01)


For most of human history, all over the planet, people were sitting within a rather stable, Malthusian equilibrium, with very similar imputed levels of per capita income. This radically changed, for some, at the end of the eighteenth century. The goal of this course is to provide an introduction to the economic development of the contemporary world and an opportunity to support research on a specific topic within economic history. We will first examine the long swing of the Malthusian equilibrium in pre-industrial economies, focusing on hunter gatherer and agrarian economies. Next, we will turn to examine the breakdown of the Malthusian equilibrium (occuring only in some parts of the world), and the long transition to rapid growth after the sixteenth century. Because we know that only certain regions of the world participated in this unprecedented growth, we will then examine the consequences of this great uneven shift, often referred to as the “Great Divergence.”  

The course requires both Macroeconomic and Microeconomic theory, as we will be examining the behavior and the consequences at both the individual, as well as the economy-wide, level. It is a seminar, limited to 15 students, so that students can engage in extended discussions of the material and pursue their own related research topic. 

For the spring semester, this course will be taught online only.

Requisite: ECON 300 or 301 and 330 or 331. Limited to 15 students. Spring semester. Professor Barbezat.

If Overenrolled: Senior majors, then majors will have priority.


Attention to Issues of Class, Attention to Issues of Gender and Sexuality, Attention to Issues of Race, Attention to Issues of Social Justice, Attention to Research, Attention to Writing, Online Only


2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2021, Spring 2022