Undergraduate course

Course description

Objectives and Content

The purpose of the course is to introduce students to practical and formal aspects of econometric models through examples in economic history.

The course will cover economic history research on the importance of historical events for modern economic development. Can geography, culture, or institutions explain why we are richer than our ancestors? Do events in the distant past explain the large differences in incomes across societies today? Recent research has put an enormous effort into collecting historical data and analyzing it with modern econometric models. The course will review this recent research as a vehicle to introduce econometric models from a practical standpoint. The course will cover simple regression models, its main challenges, and several econometric models used to overcome them (differences-in-differences, instrumental variables, falsification tests, and regression discontinuity).

A key theme of the course is the colonization of America and Africa, and its persistent effects on economic development. How do income differences between North and South America relate to their colonization experiences? What is the relationship between historical slave trade and poverty in Africa? The course will also analyze a selected number of mechanisms through which colonization and slave trade affected development: institutions, property rights, inequality, geography, legal system, and culture.

The course will be structured as follows: 1) An econometric model will be presented in class from a theoretical standpoint; 2) Next, the econometric model will be put into practice to answer a question in economic history related to colonization. As for compulsory assignments, students will present a topic. As assessment, students will produce an essay, and write an exam. Active participation in class discussions is highly encouraged. Finally, this course can serve as an inspiration to choose topics on the bachelor thesis.

Learning Outcomes

A student who has completed the course should have the following learning outcomes: 


The student

  • Understands the econometric concepts of endogeneity, measurement error, omitted variables, reversed causality, selection, and causal inference.
  • Understands formal and practical aspects of the following econometric models: regression analysis, differences-in-differences, instrumental variables, falsification tests, and regression discontinuity.
  • Has basic knowledge of the history of slave trade and colonization after 1500.
  • Understands different theories connecting economic growth, inequality, institutions, and path dependence.


The student

  • Can explain formal and practical aspects of econometric modeling.
  • Can critically discuss empirical findings and put the results into a socio-economic perspective.
  • Can discuss how institutions, geography, and culture affect economic growth and welfare; and how historical events can shape these relationships.
  • Can apply the econometric and economic history concepts learned in the course to current debates on inequality and economic development.

General competence

The student

  • Can effectively communicate ideas and formal concepts in presentations and written essays.
  • Can participate constructively in discussions on their own and others' work.
  • Can understand reports and journal articles related to the topics covered in the course.
  • Can use the skills and concepts acquired in the course as a source of inspiration to write a bachelor's thesis.

ECTS Credits


Level of Study


Semester of Instruction

Required Previous Knowledge
Credit Reduction due to Course Overlap
Access to the Course
Teaching and learning methods
Lectures and seminars.
Compulsory Assignments and Attendance

Mandatory presentation: Students will present and discuss an article which uses econometric methods on and economic history question from a list of topics. The presentation will be in groups, depending on the total number of students registered.

Approved compulsory work requirements are only valid this semester.

Forms of Assessment

Portfolio assessment with overall grade assessment. 

  • Written essay (30%)
  • Individual 2-hour school exam (70%) 

The exam will be given in the language in which the course is taught. 
The exam can be submitted in English. It is also possible to submit in Norwegian, Swedish or Danish.

Grading Scale
Graded A-F
Assessment Semester

Assessment in teaching semester.

Regarding re-sit exam


Students with valid absence as defined in UiB's study regulations § 5-5 can apply for an extension of the submission deadline on the written essay by emailing Studieveileder.econ@uib.no. The application must be submitted before the deadline for submission has expired.

School exam

A re-sit exam is arranged for students with valid absence at school exam given that the essay has been submitted according to § 5-5.

If a resit exam is arranged, it is available for students with the following results/absences:

  • Medical certificate/valid absence
  • Interrupted exam

If you have the right to take a resit exam and a resit exam is arranged for students with valid absence, you can register yourself in StudentWeb after January 15th/August 1st.

Reading List
The reading list will be ready before 1 July for the autumn semester and 1 December for the spring semester. 
Course Evaluation
All courses are evaluated according to UiB's system for quality assurance of education.
Examination Support Material
  • Simple, non-programmable calculators without graphical display, in accorance with university guidelines.
  • The Department of Economics can conduct a sample of aids in the examination room.

    Programme Committee
    The Programme Committee is responsible for the content, structure and quality of the study programme and courses