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Foundations of Economic Prosperity

Explore one of the most important economic issues in the world today—how to create and sustain prosperity—with this fascinating course by an expert in world economics.
Foundations of Economic Prosperity is rated 4.5 out of 5 by 38.
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Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great insights I like courses which take an interdisciplinary approach. They give a broader perspective, admittedly at the sacrifice of depth from any one perspective. I think he navigated this broad topic well.
Date published: 2023-04-24
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Intro to Political Economy Political Economy of Prosperity is a excellent introductory course in political economy (PE). I never took a course in PE in college but now wish I did - first semester. This course fits nicely in a sequence: * The Greek World: A Study of History and Culture * Questions of Value * Classical & Modern Political Theory * The Political Economy of Prosperity * Human Geography * The African Experience The professor is very clear in his presentation. Though he offers many relevant examples, the course focuses on concepts rather than too many economic graphs or mathematical formulas. The course content begins with the microeconomic and psychological question, What leads to personal happiness? This follows with a discussion of What are the political and economic systems that create conditions in which this can occur. He then in order looks at national and global prosperity. What is the source of poverty - and how poverty and economic inequality do not necessarily go together. How publics goods and globalism impact prosperity. I overlooked this course for many years. However, I really enjoyed it and thought it (with the excellent Classical & Modern Political Theory) tied a lot of thing together for me as I think about the development of Greek, Mayan, Roman and Carolingian empires as well as other subsequent outcomes of globalization Africa, Latin America and China.
Date published: 2022-10-10
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Not Sure What I Gained This course looks at the factors that promote economic growth on an individual level, on a national level, and on an international level. Factors considered include education, trade, regulation, and globalization. This is an introductory level course; no familiarity with economics is assumed. I’m not sure where to apply the principles discussed in this course. A better understanding of the subject when national leaders debate the economy? Perhaps. A guide to developing my own personal economic growth? Probably not. I enjoyed listening to Dr. Drezner but I’m not sure what I learned. As in all of economics, predictions are hazardous. At 2:53 in Lecture 18, Dr. Drezner says, “The Chinese model has been dubbed ‘The Beijing Consensus.’ The Beijing consensus has garnered increasing attention over the past decade, particularly since China’s economy appears to have demonstrated considerable resilience in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis and has been estimated by the IMF to overtake the US economy in terms of total Gross Domestic Product by the year 2017.” I do not know if the IMF is still holding to that prediction. Dr. Drezner is a good speaker. He assumes neither too much nor too little of his audience. His illustrations clarify the course material. The course guide is in outline or “bullet” format. I believe this is less useful than paragraph format. The course guide has no important pictures or graphics. On the other hand, I think that such graphics would have added much to the course material. The course guide has a bibliography but not a glossary. I used the audio version. I believe that the visual aids would have added little. The course was published in 2013.
Date published: 2022-07-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Clear and insightful Dr Drezner's lectures are clear in content, and insightful with explanations and samples. On each lecture, I found "something new" on how prosperity may be evaluated by people of different cultures and ages. His lectures are balanced with academic information and real-life events.
Date published: 2022-06-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The information and insights are very relevant. This course helped me tie together disciplines like economics, politics and technology. This course helped me decide what political institutions and what industries are doing the right or wrong things in this critical time in history. The course format was helpful for understanding very complex issues.
Date published: 2021-11-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Thought Provoking Course This course was extremely well presented and thought provocative. The course provided excellent, stimulating, and well organized information concerning prosperity on the individual, national and global levels. An update to present would be a welcome addition to The Great Courses.
Date published: 2020-12-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Good job with a topic worth covering This is one of few economics courses that tries to draw lessons from economics for countries and individuals. This isn't perfect--it's sometimes repetitive, and sometimes he has to acknowledge disagreements among economists. He even points out changing fads in what economists want to believe. But overall he pulls out more than you might expect about what rational behavior ought to be. So I think Mr. Drezner deserves appreciation for a good job with a difficult topic
Date published: 2019-05-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Clear, concise, evidence based. This course was exactly as I expected. So far, this is the best economics course I have heard on TGC; better than the economic history lecture series, better than capitalism vs socialism; because it is just so CLEAR. I am happy to recommend the course. Does exactly what it sets out to do.
Date published: 2019-02-09
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Get an unrivaled overview of one of the most pressing issues of our day. Professor Drezner leads you to fundamental insights about how the modern world works and an understanding of the functioning of the U.S., European, Chinese, and other major economies, as well as an appreciation for the special problems faced by underdeveloped nations.


Daniel W. Drezner

Those radically opposed to capitalism are less dangerous to prosperity than those who are so fervent in their support of the free market that they threaten to subvert the very system that they claim to love.


Tufts University

Dr. Daniel W. Drezner is Professor of International Politics at The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He earned his B.A. in Political Economy from Williams College and his M.A. in Economics and Ph.D. in Political Science from Stanford University. Beyond academia, Professor Drezner served as an international economist in the U.S. Department of the Treasury's Office of International Banking and Securities Markets. He has also worked for the RAND Corporation; consulted for various for-profit, nonprofit, and public-sector agencies; and provided expert testimony for both houses of Congress. Professor Drezner was a nonresident fellow with the German Marshall Fund of the United States, a Council on Foreign Relations International Affairs Fellow, and a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard University's John M. Olin Institute for Strategic Studies. Professor Drezner is the author of four books, including All Politics Is Global. He blogs daily for Foreign Policy magazine, for which he is a contributing editor, and he has published articles in the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. He has provided expert commentary on the global political economy for the BBC, C-SPAN, CNN International, MSNBC, Fox News, and ABC's World News Tonight.

By This Professor

Foundations of Economic Prosperity
Foundations of Economic Prosperity


The Foundations of Economic Prosperity

01: The Foundations of Economic Prosperity

Begin the course by contrasting the relative prosperity of North and South Korea. What explains the marked disparity in a region with the same geography and culture? Next, define prosperity and examine some widespread myths about how and why individuals and countries achieve affluence.

32 min
Does Economic Prosperity Make You Happy?

02: Does Economic Prosperity Make You Happy?

Explore the connection between income and happiness, focusing on the Easterlin paradox, proposed by economist Richard Easterlin in 1974, which holds that no correlation exists between happiness levels and per capita income across the developed world. Evaluate evidence for and against this conclusion.

30 min
Varieties of Entrepreneurship

03: Varieties of Entrepreneurship

Examine three types of entrepreneurship: productive, which includes innovation and expansion into new markets; destructive, which involves coercion or violence; and unproductive, such as monopoly-seeking. Today, the first is universally seen as the most desirable, but the other two were long regarded as legitimate or even prestigious.

32 min
Individual Prosperity—The Developed World

04: Individual Prosperity—The Developed World

Probe the most effective strategy for ensuring individual prosperity in the developed world. First, study how wages and income are determined in a free market. Then, learn why the developed world puts a premium on human capital, which is synonymous with education.

30 min
Individual Prosperity—The Developing World

05: Individual Prosperity—The Developing World

Developing countries vary widely in affluence, but common characteristics of their economies make it difficult for individuals to escape from poverty. Learn how the rule of law and modern capital markets are preconditions for fostering productive entrepreneurship in these nations.

32 min
Foundations of National Prosperity

06: Foundations of National Prosperity

How can countries as a whole prosper? Evaluate the ways that incentives for individuals often work against sustainable national prosperity. Study the limitations of gross domestic product as a measure of economic strength, and review the steps that propelled China into its present phase of rapid growth.

30 min
Perils to National Prosperity

07: Perils to National Prosperity

Survey three popular explanations for the failure of many nations to prosper, discovering that counterexamples cast doubt on these theories. Then investigate the distinction between public goods that enhance growth, and public “bads” that inhibit it. The latter category includes overtaxation, excessive regulation, protectionism, and war.

30 min
Political Foundations of Prosperity

08: Political Foundations of Prosperity

Turn from economics to politics, investigating the truth behind the view that democracies tend to contribute more to prosperity than autocracies. While authoritarian political institutions can, at times, lead to short bursts of prosperity, democracies have the advantage over the long term. Learn why here.

31 min
Mysteries of the Industrial Revolution

09: Mysteries of the Industrial Revolution

The graph of per capita income over time remained flat throughout human history, until 1800 when it took off due to the Industrial Revolution. Why was England the seedbed for this radical transformation? Study theories that try to explain why the English were in the right place at the right time.

32 min
Sources of Poverty

10: Sources of Poverty

Probe the challenges facing the world’s estimated 1.25 billion poor people. Some economists believe that a “poverty trap” condemns the poorest nations to the bottom of the economic ladder. What is the evidence for this theory, and are there effective measures to break the cycle of poverty?

30 min
Reducing Poverty with Economic Development

11: Reducing Poverty with Economic Development

Trace some of the big ideas that have guided the World Bank in its promotion of economic development in poor nations. Despite a wide range of approaches, no broadly effective formula has yet been found. This suggests that the developed and underdeveloped worlds obey fundamentally different economic models.

33 min
National Prosperity in the Developing World

12: National Prosperity in the Developing World

Most economic development formulas fail miserably, but there are two proven pathways to prosperity. Learn how natural resource exploitation and export promotion allow some countries to break through to prosperity. Focus on the pitfalls that must be avoided for these approaches to work.

29 min
National Prosperity in the Developed World

13: National Prosperity in the Developed World

As societies become developed, socioeconomic and sociopolitical changes create new impediments to continued economic growth. Investigate the challenges presented by four big problems: a decline in innovation, a demographic slowdown, a shift away from income maximization, and the paradoxical drawbacks of political stability.

31 min
Can Prosperity Be Lost?

14: Can Prosperity Be Lost?

Once attained, can prosperity be lost? Probe the circumstances that cause a developed country to lose economic ground. Focus on Argentina, which a hundred years ago was one of the ten richest countries in the world. What precipitated its decline, and what other factors threaten any nation’s hard-earned prosperity?

30 min
Inequality and Prosperity

15: Inequality and Prosperity

Intuitively, one would expect that poverty and economic inequality go together, but history suggests that the opposite is true. Survey the rise and fall of inequality in a range of nations, including the United States. Is there a tipping point after which inequality can harm mass prosperity?

30 min
Globalization and Global Prosperity

16: Globalization and Global Prosperity

Globalization is a cluster of technological, economic, and political innovations that have transformed the world economy. Investigate why globalization is not a new phenomenon and why it leads to greater prosperity. Then probe some of the myths about globalization, and analyze its role in promoting economic growth.

31 min
Great Powers and Global Prosperity

17: Great Powers and Global Prosperity

Address the importance of global public goods, which are services provided to other nations without profit, typically by a superpower, or hegemon. Great Britain played this role during the height of its empire. More recently, the United States has been the guarantor of global public goods.

33 min
The Washington versus the Beijing Consensus

18: The Washington versus the Beijing Consensus

Weigh the strengths and weaknesses of two competing forms of capitalism: the Washington consensus, developed by the United States during the cold war; and the Beijing consensus, which represents China’s approach to economic development since the 1980s. Which model better promotes global prosperity?

32 min
Political Challenges to Global Prosperity

19: Political Challenges to Global Prosperity

Begin a series of lectures on challenges to global prosperity. The biggest threat to any nation’s prosperity is war. Look at three broad explanations for why war is now on the wane and what could reignite conflict on an economically ruinous scale.

30 min
Financial Challenges to Global Prosperity

20: Financial Challenges to Global Prosperity

As an example of financial challenges to global prosperity, focus on the housing bubble that triggered the 2008 financial crisis. Study different asset bubbles, including the 17th-century tulip mania. Also learn the five phases in the life cycle of a bubble—from the enthusiastic takeoff to the inevitable clean-up.

31 min
Will the Developed World Stagnate?

21: Will the Developed World Stagnate?

In the past few decades, the developed world has seen a general slowdown in per capita income growth. Is this a permanent trend? Review the factors that boost prosperity, then examine how each of these drivers of growth reaches a point of diminishing returns.

29 min
Global Prosperity and the Environment

22: Global Prosperity and the Environment

Probe the environmental challenges of prosperity, focusing on the concept of negative externalities, which are costs not transmitted through price and which arise when dealing with environmental effects. Explore strategies for correcting externalities with market forces. In this context, address the problem of climate change.

29 min
Ideological Challenges to Global Prosperity

23: Ideological Challenges to Global Prosperity

Study the critics of prosperity, who object to key elements of capitalist society. Investigate the four “R’s”: the romantics, the reactionaries, the revolutionaries, and the radicals. Among the thinkers you examine are Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Karl Marx, Friedrich von Hayek, and Ayn Rand.

30 min
The Ethics of Global Prosperity

24: The Ethics of Global Prosperity

Review the key conclusions reached in the course. Then close by looking at the ethical dimension of prosperity: What, if anything, do the globally prosperous owe the global poor? Test your own views against libertarian, contractarian, and cosmopolitan approaches to this question.

31 min