Summer University Course

Comparative Economic Development
How did China rise to the second place in the world economy? Are democratic countries wealthier than authoritarian countries? Why did Russia fail its economic transition path to the West? Do culture and religion matter for economic performance?
Theocharis N. Grigoriadis


This is a 100-level introductory course with no prerequisites.

Course description

This course offers to students a comprehensive overview of the new and vibrant field of comparative economic development that has emerged from transition economics, economics of central planning and political economics. Before the economics of transition, comparative economics was devoted mostly to the comparison of capitalism and socialism, and in practice mostly to the study of socialist economic systems (central planning, Yugoslav self-management, market socialism). The transition experience and the economics of transition have shown the importance of the institutions underlying the capitalist system. Comparative economics is now turning to the comparative analysis of institutions of existing capitalist systems and to the historical evolution of those institutions.


  • New Comparative Economics
  • Plan vs. Market
  • Legal Origins & Financial Systems
  • Institutions & Economic Performance
  • Capitalism & Institutions
  • Corporate Governance & the Soft Budget Constraint
  • Chinese Bureaucracy & Economic Reforms
  • Decentralization, State Capacity & Meritocracy, Chinese Style

Learning outcomes

  • understand the role and impact of institutions on economic outcomes
  • analyze the institutional differences of Chinese and Russian economies compared to OECD economies 
  • delineate the relationship between democracy, capitalism and development
  • explain the impact of culture and religion on economic growth
  • provide linkages between financial development and historical institutions


Students planning to obtain ECTS credits for the course will write a 90-minute in-class examination. Grading will be based on the written examination (80%) and contribution to class discussion (20%).

Reading materials

Course notes distributed on the sessions.

Theocharis N. Grigoriadis is associate professor in the Department of Economics and the East European Institute of Freie Universität Berlin. He received his PhD in world economy from Saint Petersburg State University, and his PhD in political economy from the University of California, Berkeley. His publications focus on political economy, economic development, comparative economic systems and international economics. Before Berlin, he was a postdoctoral researcher at the Center for European Economic Policy (ZEW) in Mannheim. He completed internships with the World Bank and the European Union in Moscow and he has recently advised the United Nations’ Economic and Social Commission of Western Asia in Beirut on the economic repercussions of the Arab Uprisings.