If you're looking for a comprehensive page in Development Economics this isn't it. Development is a passionate interest of mine, but it isn't what I do all or even most of the time. This page contains some of my own research which I think is development-related, and no more than that (no well-maintained external links in particular).

Teaching Material in Development Economics

Development Economics, in the New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics, edited by Lawrence Blume and Steven Durlauf, 2008.

Development Economics, Princeton University Press 1998.

Answers to end-of-chapter problems in Development Economics. If you are instructor in a course that uses Development Economics, please email me and I will send you what I have. If you are a student in a course I cannot send you this material because I do not want to interfere with your instructor's teaching approach; please request him/her to email me instead.

Selected Lecture Notes for a Graduate Development Course. Updates 2001, 2002, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2013. These notes are preliminary and incomplete and are to be used at your own risk. If you use these notes in teaching a course, proper acknowledgement must be provided.

Introduction to A Reader in Development Economics, edited by Dilip Mookherjee and Debraj Ray, Blackwell (2000).

"What's New In Development Economics?," The American Economist 44, 3--16 (2000).

Poverty Traps

This was my first big area of interest in development economics. As a young assistant professor at Stanford in 1983, I was teaching a development course in which I wanted a useful parable to describe poverty traps. I used nutrition as my leading example because I was influenced by theories going back to Leibenstein (efficiency wages) and the classical idea of food surplus as limiting the extent of nonagricultural employment. I believed that this particular link was important but nevertheless it is a parable that could stand for a multitude of effects (including health more generally, as well as education) that culd create traps. Partha Dasgupta was visiting Stanford at the time and wanted to work with me on developing the nutritional trap into a full-blown general equilibrium model, which we did (with help from the inimitable Peter Hammond):

Inequality as a Determinant of Malnutrition and Unemployment, I. Theory, Economic Journal, 1986 (with P. Dasgupta).

Inequality as a Determinant of Malnutrition and Unemployment, II. Policy, Economic Journal, 1987 (with P. Dasgupta).

I developed the parable further in a model of dynamics with poverty traps (with Peter Streufert):

Dynamic Equilibria With Unemployment Due to Undernourishment (1993) (with P. Streufert), Economic Theory.

Here is another kind of poverty trap, based on contractual changes and limited liability:

Contractual Structure and Wealth Accumulation, (with D. Mookherjee), American Economic Review 92, 818--849 (2002). Note: this paper contains an appendix with details omitted. For a detailed version of the appendix, click here.

Missing Women

"Missing Women: Age and Disease" (with S. Anderson), April 2008.

Polarization and Conflict

Here is an informal exposition of some particular interests in inequality and polarization.

The next two papers deal with questions of conflict, an interest that stems from my earlier work on polarization with Joan Esteban.

"On the Salience of Ethnic Conflict" (with J. Esteban), July 2006, revised November 2007.

"A Model of Ethnic Conflict," (with J. Esteban), September 2005.

Credit and Insurance

"Informal Insurance in Social Networks" (with F. Bloch and G. Genicot), May 2006. Continues in the line of my earlier work with Garance Genicot on limits to insurance created by subcoalitions.

"Bargaining Power and Enforcement in Credit Markets" (with G. Genicot), Journal of Development Economics 79, 398--412 (2006). Another recent paper with Garance for a JDE special issue in honor of Pranab Bardhan (who, among other things, edited the Journal of Development Economics for many years).

Here are two more papers on informal credit. The first one is a nice overview I think. The second paper will never be published, but don't ask me why.

"Credit Rationing in Developing Countries: An Overview of the Theory," Chapter 11 in Readings in the Theory of Economic Development, edited by D. Mookherjee and D. Ray, London: Blackwell, 2000, pages 383--301.

"Information and Enforcement in Informal Credit Markets," (with P. Ghosh), revised November 2001.


"Occupational Span and Endogenous Inequality" (with D. Mookherjee), first draft, November 2004, this draft March 2005. Ah, this paper, it will never be completed I fear. It continues to grow and is probably now of interest to only two economists in the world, though of course it shouldn't be that way.

These unpublished notes, Income Distribution and Macroeconomic Behavior, were written in 1990 and may be of interest to those working on the economic implications of inequality. The notes show that inequality must emerge in a two-occupation model (with perfect certainty) and establish the convergence of intertemporal competitive equilibria to a steady state, even in the presence of multiple steady states. An updated version is forthcoming in a special issue of Economic Theory in honor of my old advisor, Mukul Majumdar (no, Mukulda: the "old" applies to "advisor").

"Inequality and Inefficiency in Joint Projects," (with J-M. Baland and O. Dagnelie), April 2003, revised 2006, forthcoming, Economic Journal. Paper studies the interplay of egalitarianism and incentives, an old interest of mine which dates back to this paper with Kaoru Ueda.

"A Dynamic Incentive-Based Argument for Conditional Transfers" (with D. Mookherjee), February 2008, forthcoming in the Australian journal Economic Record.

"Aspirations, Poverty and Economic Change," in A. Banerjee, R. Bénabou and D. Mookherjee (eds), What Have We Learnt About Poverty, Oxford University Press (2006). This essay is originally based on my comments as discussant on A. Appadurai's paper, World Bank Conference on Culture and Public Action, 2002. Appadurai's paper is published in V. Rao and M. Walton (eds), Culture and Public Action.


Instruments Needed

More to come!