on May 2, 2003
This textbook was written for senior undergraduates or master's students with a minimum introduction to economics, which assumes that the student has assimilated the general features of the approach defining economics as a social science. Consequently, any student or reader who is well grounded in the social science paradigm will readily assimilate this excellent introduction to development economics, which is distinguished by the solid, I would even say, jam-packed expertise of Debraj Ray.
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.
on January 25, 1999
For quite some time, I have been looking for a good text book in Development Economics. My serach more or less ends with Ray's excellently produced, "Development Economics". The best parts of the book are Chapters 2, 3, 4 and the two appendices. However there are some notable omissions in the book. It does not have chapters on "Industrialisation" and on "Financial Flows". But I am sure this can be "rectified" in the next edition. The book is eminently accessible to a graduate student in Economics in a typical developing country.
on August 25, 2002
in my view, ray touches on - and on a quite satisfactory manner - the most important issue nowadays in economics in his book, namely, how to turn poor countries or poor individuals into rich ones. those who don't live in poor countries should become concerned about that plague called poverty hitting the globe as soon as possible. And the best way to do it is to purchase books like this or the elusive quest for growth. it's a clear, well-written, comprehensive and even fun reading. And the author's name guarantees you a good buy.
on August 25, 2002
in my view, ray touches on - and on a quite satisfactory way - the most important issue in economics in his book, namely, how to turn poor countries or poor individuals into rich ones. those who don't live in poor countries should become concerned about the poverty hitting the globe as soon as possible. And the best way to do it is to purchase this book. it's a clear, well-written, comprehensive and even fun reading.
on January 13, 2001
Ray wrote this book with the objective of being one of the classical text books for Development Economics. And he did it. This book is used in LSE, Ivy League, and Oxford. It requires a strong microeconomic background, as well as econometric skills. There aren't a lot of formulas but theory. Easy reading and broad contents.