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Growth and Development with Special Reference to Developing Economies. Eighth Edition - Development Economics - Development Economics
May 26, 2006

The intensity of the debate taking place in the Western world about globalisation and its effects on the world's poorest countries has led to a renewed interest among university students in the study of development economics. Lecturers and students of development economics in the English-speaking world have a wide range of excellent textbooks to choose from. For more than 50 years, A. P. Thirlwall's magnum opus on the subject has been a market leader. Written by one of the world's leading specialists on the subject, Growth and Development provides a comprehensive, in-depth and highly readable study. Now, students of development economics have the benefit of an updated eighth edition.

In the preface, Thirlwall declares that his purpose is "to introduce students to the exciting and challenging subject of development economics". He succeeds in making the subject exciting and challenging, but this text is far from being an introduction. There is enough here to occupy a diligent student for a full year or more of study in this area.

Nevertheless, an understanding of most of the material in this book is well within the reach of a moderately able third-year undergraduate. The book is well laid out and illustrated with diagrams, tables and the occasional case study. The mathematics is rigorous but not unduly exacting. Each chapter concludes with a list of discussion questions that could form the basis of seminars or tutorials to support formal lectures on the various topics. References and suggestions for further reading are listed at the end of the book.

Students seeking a different approach might be more attracted to Eckhard Siggel's Development Economics: A Policy Analysis Approach . This seeks to address the perennial problem of any economics course, namely, how to integrate theory with policymaking in a practical way. It does so through the use of case studies in the form of assignment questions. Students are asked to consider a case study on a theme relevant to the subject matter covered by the chapter and, then, to undertake an assignment, mostly of a numerical kind, to analyse a specific problem arising out of the case study. The approach is novel, and lecturers will find plenty of useful exercises for their students as part of a seminar/tutorial programme or for students to do in their own time.

However, the level of analysis in this text is quite advanced, which limits the usefulness of the book for students with a weaker background in economic theory and/or quantitative economics. The coverage is also narrower than Thirlwall, which will disappoint those more interested in the problems of developing countries.

For example, it has little to say on issues such as foreign aid and debt reduction, which have come to occupy such a central stage in global relations in recent years. Trade issues are discussed, but there is little or nothing on the debates taking place about globalisation, trade liberalisation and the World Trade Organisation from a development perspective. So, although the textbook contains much on policy analysis, many students of development economics will be disappointed by the lack of material on contemporary policy issues.

A more conventional approach is taken by Yujiro Hayami and Yoshihisa Godo in the third edition of their Development Economics . There are no case studies or examples or discussion/ assignment questions at the end of each chapter. However, there is a rigorous treatment of theoretical issues with a modest amount of mathematics. The coverage of contemporary policy is good, including a new chapter on the Post-Washington Consensus and related themes. The authors regard the major task of development economics as "to explore the possibility of emancipation from poverty for developing economies". Poverty reduction/elimination is the central theme of this book. This fits in well with the emphasis placed on poverty reduction in the UN Millennium Development Goals.

The first and second editions of the book were originally written in Japanese for a Japanese audience, before being translated into English.

This third edition was prepared in English for an international audience.

However, the two authors clearly want to argue that cultural and social traditions are important in the development process. In particular, the right balance between reliance on market forces and state regulation and direction of the economy depends heavily on these factors.

"There is no single optimum combination uniformly applicable to developing economies," the authors declare. Japan is an example, they argue, as it is a country that adopted a unique form of economic organisation under different cultural and social traditions to those of the West. Yet it was able to catch up rapidly with the West as a result. The importance of tailoring policy approaches to the specific social and cultural conditions of the country is pursued further in another central theme of the book - the role of "technology borrowing".

These are excellent texts on development economics, which offer alternative approaches to the study of this important and growing branch of economics.

Lecturers will want to find room for all three on their reading lists in the next academic year.

Nigel Grimwade is head of economics, London South Bank University.

Growth and Development with Special Reference to Developing Economies. Eighth Edition

Author - A. P. Thirlwall
Publisher - Palgrave Macmillan
Pages - 685
Price - £70.00 and £34.99
ISBN - 1 4039 9600 8 and 9601 6

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