Length Length

6 modules, accessible at any time

Effort Effort

1-2 hours a week

Price Price


Languages Languages


Video Transcripts Video Transcripts


Prerequisites Prerequisites


Requirements Requirements

An internet connection to access course materials

the role of Structural Transformation

in sustainable development

innovative approaches to

create decent works and growth

the many factors that

drives Developer's Dilemma

for a more inclusive

Growth and Employment



This course is self-paced. You can enroll and complete the course materials at any time before August 31st, 2024.

The achievement of the SDGs—and SDG 8 in particular—requires economic activity to increase and often requires structural transformation. The process of structural transformation can take several forms—this affects the structure of the economy and the jobs available; it impacts who benefits from development and who gets left behind. This brings forth the developer’s dilemma, the concern that economic development inevitably leads to increased inequality. Where workers are situated on the job ladder, whether they are formal or informal workers, and whether there is opportunity to transition from informal to formal employment will also impact how much they will be able to benefit from the process of structural transformation. However, there are policy pathways that could support more equal and sustainable economic development.

This 6-week course provides an in-depth look at the latest UNU-WIDER research and shares insights that can support policymaking during the process of structural transformation.


  • Pre-recorded lectures
  • Readings
  • Quizzes 
  • Activities
  • Discussion forum



Lead Faculty

  • Faculty Image

    Kunal Sen


  • Faculty Image

    Martha Chen

    Harvard University

  • Faculty Image

    Andy Summer


  • Faculty Image

    Gary S. Fields


  • Faculty Image

    Michael Rogan

This course is for

Policy professionals who want to understand the policy interventions that can support sustainable and equitable economic development while creating opportunities for decent work. 

Development practitioners interested in the different pathways available in developing economies for progress towards achieving SDG 8 

Advanced undergraduates and graduate students interested in economics, development, and other key concepts related to the SDGs


Course logistics and requirements

This course is self-paced, so learners can join anytime and learn whenever and wherever is best for them. Please note that this course is not facilitated by a course team. We encourage students to engage with one another via the discussion forum. Any specific questions can be sent to the SDG Academy team at courses@sdgacademy.org.


Learners who successfully complete the course will be eligible to purchase an edX Verified Certificate signed by the course instructors.


Module 1: Understanding structural transformation with Kunal Sen

Chapter 1: Introduction to structural transformation

Chapter 2: Patterns in new data on the structural transformation

Chapter 3: An exploration of the different pathways of structural transformation

Chapter 4: Policy Takeaway

Module 2: Informal employment, decent and productive work with Marty Chen

Chapter 1: Terms & definitions related to informal employment and why policy makers should focus on informal workers

Chapter 2: Discussing the formalization debate

Chapter 3: Importance of decent work to achieving sustainable development

Case Study: Don't throw it all away: Waste pickers in Bogotá

Module 3: The developer’s dilemma with Kunal Sen and Andy Sumner

Chapter 1: Developer's dilemma: the tradeoff between economic growth and equality

Chapter 2: Types of structural transformation and the Kuznetsian tension.

Chapter 3: countries undergoing structural transformation in recent years

Chapter 4: Developer's dilemma through specific country examples

Chapter 5: Key takeaways from the country examples - discussing the future of economic development and the developer's dilemma

Chapter 6: The difference between the Kuznets and Lewis ways of looking at development and inequality.

Module 4: The job ladder with Gary Fields

Chapter 1: Explaining the job ladder and the various types of informality within the new framework

Chapter 2: Exploring the findings and patterns from data on income and work status across Asia, Latin America, Middle East and North Africa and sub-Saharan Africa.

Chapter 3: Policy considerations based on the new data and job ladder framework.

Chapter 4: Policy options with regional focus and specificty

Module 5: Informal work and COVID-19 with Mike Rogan

Chapter 1: How did Covid 19 affect informal workers?

Chapter 2: Data on the most affected group during the pandemic.

Chapter 3: Lessons for a successful recovery that promotes decent work

Case Study: Reclaiming rights in Khayelitsha

Case Study: Street sellers in Khayelitsha

Module 6: Closing questions & key takeaways with Kunal Sen and Marty Chen