Get Ready for a Challenging Academic Year
We strongly encourage students to prepare for their year at the Center for Development Economics. Most students will have graduated from college some years prior to coming to the CDE. In such instances, some reading and thinking about basic economic principles and ideas will facilitate your work at the CDE.
- Basic Economics
- For Transitional Economies
- Some on-line references for Statistics and Basic Economics
The first area of concern is English. If your first language is not English and/or your education was not in English you should work on your English comprehension in order to understand both the readings and the class lectures.
We urge you to study economics and to read widely in English whenever possible. The volume of assigned reading is such that even those with good English are challenged. To increase your opportunities to speak English, you may want to enroll in an advanced English conversation course in your country. You should practice organizing your thoughts in written English whenever possible, especially in your work.
Online distance learning sites:
In addition to reading books, there are a few on-line distant learning sites you should visit.
The following are sites we have reviewed and find them to have merit for the purposes of preparation for your studies here.
- English for All: you can use this by signing on as a visitor at no cost, but with diminished video quality
- English as a Second Language: free ESL lessons and tests
- Real English Online: requires registration to participate, but no fee
- English on-line
- Websites for ESL On-line: a variety of sites
All courses at the CDE presume that students have a working knowledge of basic economic theory. This includes familiarity with terms such as opportunity costs, elasticity, profit, physical capital, equilibrium, and the like. You should be familiar with the textbook theory of the firm, including concepts such as the conditions for profit maximization, the role of marginal products in determining the demand for factors of production, different forms of competition, etc. Similarly you should become familiar with the theory of the household, e.g. preferences, demand and indifference curves, role of prices and income are also useful to have in hand. All of these concepts can be found in most of the principles of economics texts that are available in university libraries published within the last ten years. We strongly encourage you to take some time to refresh yourselves on these kinds of things.
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For Transitional Economies
For those whose college training and post-college work has been in socialist countries, some re-orientation will be necessary. The CDE program has some materials on planned economies (as conventionally understood and now practiced in very few countries), but the program focuses on how markets work, or can be induced to work, and the role of government in the economy.
We also offer some work on the transition process and problems that an economy faces as it changes over from a centrally planned to a market economy. We recognize that these issues are very important for a number of our students, and increasing attention is being given to them. We urge that those of you unfamiliar with a market/government economy make special efforts to read and study the material mentioned in the preceding section.
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A working knowledge of basic statistics (probability, distributions, measures of central tendency and dispersion, and hypothesis testing) is important before studying econometrics. You should review basic mathematics and algebra, including summation and functions (particularly linear, quadratic, exponential, and logarithmic functions), rudimentary matrix algebra including transposition and multiplication, and basic calculus –including total and partial derivatives.
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