Development Economics Hardcover – 1 Feb 1998
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From the Back Cover
"An elegant, insightful, and extremely effective textbook on development economics. It combines astute theoretical reasoning with a firm grip on empirical circumstances, including institutional possibilities and limitations. There is real originality here without sacrificing usefulness and accessibility."--Amartya Sen, Winner of the 1998 Nobel Prize for Economics, Harvard University
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Top Customer Reviews
If you believe that you would often need to refer to this book,then it would definitely be worth buying regardless of the price.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
The author gives an excellent overview in the four-page preface, where he acknowledges the limitations of his work and prepares the reader well by conveying a transparent framework for absorbing the rather dense exposition that follows.
There is in the second chapter a concise discussion of the meaning of economic development, which defines it as a multifaceted concept for which per capita income is a robust but significantly incomplete operational measure.
Throughout the book, the basic pattern of discussion is consistent. The author discusses theory and data in dynamic--the order of the two is interchangeable--identifying and discriminating what is substantiated, imperfect, or defective in theory, as well as what is informative, unexplained, or wanting in data, and then whenever possible drawing implications or conclusions for economic policy. The ultimate goal of author's analysis is to limn the "structural characteristics" of economic development, building upon the fundamental assumption that the key determinants of economic performance are a cohort of salient variables that affect the efficient functioning of markets.
Some of the variables that are intensively discussed include inequality, poverty, population growth, rural-urban sector interaction, the functioning of land, labor, capital, credit, and insurance markets, and trade policy. Not all factors that affect economic development are adequately quantified, such as social norms or the status quo. Interestingly, the author accounts rather well for the "East Asian miracle" in terms of some of these variables.
The two appendices at the end cover game theory and elementary statistical methods, both essential for the scientific understanding of economic development.
Designed for an introductory course, the textbook is of course weakly regardful of new ideas or studies, so that it will not bring the reader to any eager appreciation of exciting issues in the discipline--or maybe economics inherently IS a dismal science?
From the standpoint of social science, the textbook is surpassingly descriptive and analytical but to only a limited extent prescriptive. I highly recommend it to anyone who wishes to substantively understand economic development in an analytical and scientific mode.
For graduate students it's an excellent 'background' text, but not sufficiently advanced enough to serve as a core text to supplement journal articles.
Two things, however are to criticise. First of all, it is a magnum opus that would be a lot more comfortable to read as a paperback. Second, the information presented in this book is huge, yet doesn't go into sufficient and into equal detail for all factors of growth that are presented in this book. In other words, the presentation of the different factors is at a rather general level, however some factors seem to stand out more than others, which is somewhat a little annoying, since growth depends on many factors, some of which are too narrowly described.
The style however is straight-forward and is not limited to economists alone. At the same time, a good understanding of both macro- and microeconomics (in particular) will be useful. The book should also ideally be read together with some further readings so that the reader fully understands the contents and the points that the author is stressing. Yet, it is a fabulous book that can serve as an ideal starting-step for further study in the area. Four points are therefore awarded for this book.