UC Davis Agricultural and Resource Economics

Essentials of Development Economics

61J9kv7f1CL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg"When we sat down to write Essentials of Development Economics, we wanted a compact book for an upper-division undergraduate development economics class. That is primarily what this is. The knowledge in this book should poise any undergraduate for further study or to venture out into the real world with an appreciation for the essential concepts and tools of economic development. More than a textbook, this can be a helpful basic reference for any graduate student, researcher, or development practitioner." (Preface)


This textbook collaboration with my UC Davis colleague Ed Taylor emerged from the confluence of

  1. our frustruation with existing textbooks for introductory development economics courses - textbooks that are pricey and encyclopedic in their topical coverage, 
  2. our desire to distill essential concepts that appear repeatedly in contemporary development economics, 
  3. our appreciation for how online audio and video resources can reinforce these concepts and provide a crucial dimension of humanity to this field of economics, and
  4. our enthusiasm for giving students in these introductory courses a flavor for the research frontiers of development economics, which we have discovered is a great way to engage undergraduate students.  

In the hands of the right instructor, we are convinced the book can go a long way toward making the learning experience both exceptional and memorable. The book is not intended to be a conventional plug-and-play textbook, however. In a course setting, it requires more of the instructor in some ways - but in our experience both students and teachers are better off as a result!

A Few Clips from Early Pages

"There’s a striking disconnect between development textbooks and journal articles. Specialized journal articles really are what shape the way we think about development economics problems and research. Sadly, they are not written for undergraduate courses. Nevertheless, the topics they cover, research approaches they use, and critical findings they present are essential to understanding development economics, and they can be made accessible. Journal articles are highlighted in boxes throughout this book." (Preface)

"Suppose you were blindfolded and airlifted abroad. After arriving in a small town and removing the blindfold, your job is to determine the income level of the place based only on 60 seconds of observation. What would you look for? If you have traveled or lived in a developing country, you might have a head-start on this assignment: Is it hot and humid? What are people wearing? Eating? How are people getting around? What do the streets and buildings look like? Do the animals look pampered? Do you see trash or trash cans? And the smells! Most people, when exposed to living standards far below their own, want to help in some way. Economists (yes, even economists!) feel this impulse and wonder: Why are some places rich and others poor? What can be done to reduce poverty and encourage economic growth? In this chapter, we introduce development economics and describe the emergence and evolution of this field." (Chapter 1)


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