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Readings in the Theory of Economic Development


This collection provides a complete introduction to new ways of thinking about economic development. Emphasizing economic theory, each article has been selected for its theoretical completeness, accessibility, and clarity as well as its value as a contribution to the field. A thorough introductory essay summarizes the state of the field for those new to this area and explains the importance of the articles selected.

The articles will interest academic researchers, policy practitioners and students alike.

This book:

  • Examines new ways of thinking about the economics of development.
  • Initiates the nonspecialist into state-of-the-art research in the field.
  • Includes a thorough introduction that identifies the main themes and contextualizes the readings.
  • Provides the basis for a semester-long course in development economics.

Dilip Mookherjee is Professor of Economics and Director of the Institute for Economic Development at Boston University.

Debraj Ray is Professor of Economics at New York University. He is the author of Development Economics (1998).



Part I: Underdevelopment As Market Incompleteness: Economy-Wide Implications.

A: Coordination Failures and Underdevelopment.

1. Industrialization and the Big Push. (Kevin M. Murphy, Andrei Shleifer and Robert W. Vishny).

2. Increasing Returns and Long-Run Growth. (Paul M. Romer).

3. History and Coordination Failure. (Alيcia Adserà and Debraj Ray).

B: Inequality and Underdevelopment.

4. Income Distribution and Macroeconomics. (Oded Galor and Joseph Zeira).

5. Occupational Choice and the Process of Development. (Abhijit V. Banerjee and Andrew F. Newman).

6. Economic Underdevelopment: The Case of a Missing Market for Human Capital. (Lars Ljungqvist).

C: Slow Convergence.

7. Was Prometheus Unbound by Chance?: Risk, Diversification and Growth. (Daron Acemoglu and Fabrizio Zilibotti).

Part II: Market Incompleteness And Informal Institutions: Microeconomic Analysis.

Agrarian Organization.

A: Agarian organization.

8. Access to Capital and Agrarian Production Organization. (Mukesh Eswaran and Ashok Kotwal).

B: Labor.

9. Part 1: Inequality as a Determinant of Malnutrition and Unemployment: Theory Part 2 Inequality as a Determinant of Malnutrition and Unemployment: Policy (Partha Dasgupta and Debraj Ray).

10. A Theory of Two-Tier Labor Markets in Agrarian Economies. (Mukesh Eswaran and Ashok Kotwal.

C: Credit and Land.

11. Credit Rationing in Developing Countries: An Overview of the Theory. (Parikshit Ghosh, Dilip Mookherjee and Debraj Ray).

12. Sharecropping and the Interlinking of Agrarian Markets. (Avishay Braverman and Joseph E. Stiglitz).

13. Informational Rents and Property Rights in Land. (Dilip Mookherjee).

D: Cooperatives and the Informal Economy.

14. Reciprocity without Commitment: Characterization and Performance of Informal Insurance Arrangements. (Stephen Coate and Martin Ravallion).

15. The Economics of Rotating Savings and Credit Associations. (Timothy Besley, Stephen Coate and Glenn Loury).

16. The Economics of Lending with Joint Liability: Theory and Practice. (Maitreesh Ghatak and Timothy W. Guinnane).

17. Learning by Doing and Learning from Others: Human Capital and Technical Change in Agriculture. (Andrew D. Foster and Mark R. Rosenzweig).