Learning about development economics

Dean Yang posted his syllabus (pdf) for the graduate Development Economics course he is teaching at the University of Michigan this Fall. It looks a terrific course. I particularly approved of the selection of books recommended for purchase:

 (2011) by Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo – an inspiring exposition of the use of experimental methods to determine what interventions are effective in certain contexts. There’s a danger of overdoing the enthusiasm for RCTs because you need to be confident about controlling for context – a bag of lentils as an inducement to get a child vaccinated has different results in, say, Chennai and Liverpool. But this approach represents a huge step forward in development economics.

[amazon_image id=”0718193660″ link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]Poor Economics: Barefoot Hedge-fund Managers, DIY Doctors and the Surprising Truth about Life on less than $1 a Day[/amazon_image]

 (2009) by Daryl Collins, Jonathan Morduch, Stuart Rutherford, and Orlanda Ruthven. One of my favourite books. It gathers new evidence about the financial services people on very low incomes need – and the answers are sometimes surprising. Should be read by anyone with views on microcredit and/or payday loans.

[amazon_image id=”0691148198″ link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]Portfolios of the Poor: How the World’s Poor Live on $2 a Day[/amazon_image]

 (2013) by Sendhil Mullainathan and Eldar Shafir. I haven’t read this yet but am keen to do so. Here’s a great review by Cass Sunstein and here it is written up on Marginal Revolution.

[amazon_image id=”1846143454″ link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]Scarcity: Why having too little means so much[/amazon_image]

The fact these are recommendations on a graduate course syllabus should not put anyone off – the two I’ve read are clear and definitely accessible to the general reader.