A Survey Paper: Topics in Economic Growth and Development

This page authored by Mark Kurt, Elon University and submitted by Steve DeLoach, Elon University.
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This paper is designed to help students develop deeper understanding of a topic within economic growth and/or economic development and potentially lead to the development of a thesis proposal. This paper does not require students to complete an entire research project, but only asks them to develop a feasible research question based on a review of the literature.

Learning Goals

In this paper, students will explore the economic literature and choose one topic to explore. They will identify the relevant influential papers, organize and summarize the contributions in an easy to understand manner, and provide direction on how the literature is evolving. In this sense, students are only doing the first 5 steps of the research process.

Context for Use

This approach is appropriate for use in upper-level electives and seminar classes. It is most appropriate in the context of a curriculum where students eventually will have to complete a full-fledged research project on their own.

Description and Teaching Materials

Survey Paper Assignment (Acrobat (PDF) 90kB Mar26 12)

Teaching Notes and Tips

The first time I taught this course I wanted students to do a mini-thesis where they would come up with a new idea, place it in the context of the literature, identify a dataset and actually estimate the model. That turned out to be way too much for students to manage in the context of a one-semester course. As a result, I took away the econometric component of the assignment in order to create more value added.


A paper earning an A will have all of the following:
- A clearly defined topic and well described connections to Economic Growth and/or Economic Development.
- Identified the influential papers (both seminal works and papers pushing the frontier of our understanding) within the peer-reviewed literature.
- Organized the literature review in a logical fashion
- Clearly and concisely described the contribution of each paper to the literature and how it relates to other papers
- Used the cited papers to provide context for what are the yet unanswered questions
- Identified and detailed one feasible senior thesis question developed from the literature review
- Overall paper had excellent spelling, grammar, flow, and proper references.

A paper receiving a B will have achieved most of the above points and nearly achieved the balance. An example is the student identifies a senior thesis question but the thesis question is simply stated not detailed.

A paper earning a C will have achieved some of the above points and nearly achieved most, but fails to address or achieve one or more points. An example is the student does not list a senior thesis question. Another example of a C paper is the student identifies the influential works but does not summarize them in a manner where is it clear the student understood the contribution of the work.