Economic development in 150 pages
Has Ian Goldin penned “Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Economic Development but were Afraid to Ask?” Or perhaps, “The Joys of Economic Development?” Here’s a concise review of a concise book.
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First posted on:
The Enlightened Economist, 10 March 2018.
It sounds an impossible challenge, but Ian Goldin does an impressive job combining clarity and conciseness in his Development: A Very Short Introduction, one of the well-known OUP series. The book seems to be a version of his longer book from a couple of years ago, The Pursuit of Development.
Its six chapters cover: what it is, how it happens, why some countries are poor and others rich, aid, sustainable development, and globalization. The book manages to give a reasonable capsule description of the debates among economists, as well as some sense of how development economics has changed over time. It studiously avoids reaching strong conclusions on the efficacy of aid, this being a rather factual chapter.
There’s a useful list of further reading at the end. I think someone knowing little about the subject would come away with a rounded overview and the capacity – and interest, probably – to read more. I like the pay-off too: “Development is not simply or mainly about the lives of others. It is about ourselves and what we care about. Development is about who we are and our collective future.
My quibble would be that the charts aren’t all that illuminating and only partly because they’re in black & white. Maybe all charts from now on should be left to Max Roser and his team at Our World in Data.