Spring 2022 - ECON 354 D100

Comparative Economic Institutions (3)

Class Number: 3803

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Tu 10:30 AM – 12:20 PM
    AQ 3149, Burnaby

    Fr 10:30 AM – 11:20 AM
    AQ 3154, Burnaby

  • Exam Times + Location:

    Apr 19, 2022
    3:30 PM – 6:30 PM
    RCB 8100, Burnaby

  • Prerequisites:

    ECON 103 and 105, with a minimum grade of C-; 60 units.



People in small scale societies face numerous economic problems and have devised a variety of institutions to solve them. Using detailed case studies as a source of empirical information, we will develop economic concepts and models that help to make sense of these institutional arrangements. Students with credit for ECON 387 in Fall 1998 or Fall 1999, or ECON 383 in Fall 2001 or Fall 2003 may not take this course for further credit.


We will take a broad comparative view of the institutions that people have created to solve economic problems in real societies.  The course is based on four books (200-400 pages each) listed below.  We will spend about three weeks on each book.  The lectures will use economic theory to analyze the material presented by the authors.


  • Exams (4) 100%


There will be four exams including the final Exam. There will be one exam for each book.  Each exam is worth 25% of the total grade.  A missed exam will result in an additional 25% weight carried over to the remaining exam(s).



Allen W. Johnson and Timothy Earle, The Evolution of Human Societies: From Foraging Group to Agrarian State, 2d edition, Stanford University Press, 2000.

Elinor Ostrom, Governing the Commons: The Evolution of Institutions for Collective Action, Cambridge University Press, 2015.

Robert C. Ellickson, Order Without Law: How Neighbors Settle Disputes, Harvard University Press, 1994.

Louis Putterman, The Good, The Bad, and The Economy: Does Human Nature Rule Out A Better World? Landon St, 2012.

Department Undergraduate Notes:

Please note that, as per Policy T20.01, the course requirements (and grading scheme) outlined here are subject to change up until the end of the first week of classes.

Final exam schedules will be released during the second month of classes. If your course has a final exam, please ensure that you are available during the entire final exam period until you receive confirmation of your exam dates. 

Students requiring accommodations as a result of a disability must contact the Centre for Accessible Learning (CAL) at 778-782-3112 or caladmin@sfu.ca.


Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html


Teaching at SFU in spring 2022 will involve primarily in-person instruction, with safety plans in place.  Some courses will still be offered through remote methods, and if so, this will be clearly identified in the schedule of classes.  You will also know at enrollment whether remote course components will be “live” (synchronous) or at your own pace (asynchronous).

Enrolling in a course acknowledges that you are able to attend in whatever format is required.  You should not enroll in a course that is in-person if you are not able to return to campus, and should be aware that remote study may entail different modes of learning, interaction with your instructor, and ways of getting feedback on your work than may be the case for in-person classes.

Students with hidden or visible disabilities who may need class or exam accommodations, including in the context of remote learning, are advised to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning (caladmin@sfu.ca or 778-782-3112) as early as possible in order to prepare for the spring 2022 term.