Economics 281

Large differences in income levels within and between countries are a characteristic of the world we live in. Also in South Africa, with one of the most unequal societies, is the difference between the haves and the have-nots clearly visible; the wealth of the high-middle income groups - with their large cars, DSTV, expensive clothing - stand in contrast to those living on the periphery, often less than a few hundred meters from one-another. While most people are today better off than earlier generations, there are still many in society that have not benefited much from the dramatic growth and development of the last few decades. In short: while we live in a world that is rapidly moving forward, there are some that's left behind.

This course is aimed at investigating these development conundrums. The first semester covers how we got to where we are now; why is Africa poorer than other regions, why a small group of people in North-Western Europe suddenly experienced a rapid growth in income in the early nineteenth century, why even within national borders massive inequalities remain (with South Africa the perfect example)? Man's eternal quest to satisfy his unquenched needs with limited resources stands central to answering these questions. In search of answers, we investigate historical examples. The development of mankind - especially the last 400 years - provides a tapestry of choices by ordinary people, leaders and countries and the consequences that it entailed. The lessons of the past help us to navigate the future with more confidence and wisdom.

Module outcomes

Students that successfully complete this course, will

  1. have a good understanding of the economic change of the last 400 years
  2. be able to refer to economic theories to explain this change and progress
  3. be able to differentiate between correlation and causation in economic analysis, with special reference to natural experiments in history
  4. have a good understanding of Africa's development dilemmas and opportunities
  5. be able to evaluate South Africa's position in the global economy and identify future trends

 

Prerequisite modules (P): Economics 114Economics 144 OR Prerequisite Pass modules (PP): Economics 288

Continuous assessment

Credits: 32

Classes per week: 3 lectures

Module convenor: Semester 2: Dr FK Siebrits

Module convenor: Semester 1: Prof J Fourie

 

Work programme: Economic History

Work programme: Economic Development

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BER Weekly

22 September 2017
In the domestic section we unpack the latest decision by Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) of the South African Reserve Bank (SARB). Against expectations for a cut, the MPC decided to keep the policy interest rate unchanged. Additionally, we look at the latest consumer inflation numbers from Statistics South Africa (Stats SA), which shows that August...

Read the full issue
 

BER Weekly

22 September 2017
In the domestic section we unpack the latest decision by Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) of the South African Reserve Bank (SARB). Against expectations for a cut, the MPC decided to keep the policy interest rate unchanged. Additionally, we look at the latest consumer inflation numbers from Statistics South Africa (Stats SA), which shows that August...

Read the full issue