An Economic Development Reading List
Prepared by Ian Vásquez
Read This First
The Mystery of Capital: Why Capitalism Triumphs in the West and
Fails Everywhere Else by Hernando de Soto (Basic
Documents how the absence of property rights has kept poor countries poor.
In Defense of Global Capitalism by Johan Norberg
(Cato Institute, 2003)
Argues that free trade and economic liberalization are good for poor countries.
On the Importance of Good Institutions for Economic Development
The Noblest Triumph: Property and Prosperity through the
Ages by Tom Bethell (St. Martin’s, 1998)
An engaging discussion of the importance of property rights and why they have often been neglected.
The Poverty of “Development Economics” by Deepak
Lal (London: Institute of Economic Affairs, 1983, 1997)
Critiques central planning and other development policies prevalent in poor countries during most of the post-World War II period.
Institutions, Institutional Change and Economic
Performance by Douglass North (Cambridge
University Press, 1990)
Explains how formal and informal institutions contribute to economic growth, and why institutions form and change.
Prosperity versus Planning: How Government Stifles Economic
Growth by David Osterfeld (Oxford University
Addresses major economic development issues and shows that the best way to promote growth is through a “wall of separation” between government and the economy.
The Peasant Betrayed: Agriculture and Land Reform in the Third
World by John P. Powelson and Richard Stock (Cato
Offers case studies of land reform failures in poor countries that have tended to centralize political power.
In Defense of Free Capital Markets: The Case against the New
International Financial Architecture by David De
Rosa (Bloomberg Press, 2001)
Argues that global capitalism is the solution to international financial crises.
On the History of Economic Growth
The World Economy: A Millennial Perspective by
Angus Maddison (Organization for Economic Cooperation and
Attempts to calculate growth rates around the world for the past 1000 years, with thoughtful discussions of the world economy during that period.
The Wealth and Poverty of Nations: Why Some Are So Rich and Some So
Poor by David S. Landes (W.W. Norton &
A readable economic history of how cultural and institutional factors explain the economic performance of countries.
Property and Freedom by Richard Pipes (Alfred A.
An historical review of the importance of property rights to economic growth, the rule of law and freedom.
How the West Grew Rich by Nathan Rosenberg and L.
E. Birdzell, Jr. (Basic Books, 1986)
An in-depth history of the factors that explain the West’s escape from poverty: its institutions and its political pluralism.
On the Failure of Foreign Aid
Perpetuating Poverty: The World Bank, the IMF, and the Developing
World edited by Doug Bandow and Ian
Vásquez (Cato Institute, 1994)
Reviews the dismal record of multilateral lending agencies, and includes case studies of foreign aid failures.
Dissent on Development by Peter T. Bauer (Harvard
University Press, 1972)
Challenges nostrums about the benefits of foreign aid and the existence of a vicious circle of poverty.
Equality, the Third World, and Economic Delusion
by Peter T. Bauer (Harvard University Press, 1981)
Makes the case for market-liberal policies in poor countries and exposes patronizing attitudes prevalent among development experts.
The Road to Hell: Foreign Aid and International
Charity by Michael Maren (Free Press, 1997)
A former aid worker describes the underside of the foreign aid establishment and shows how aid hinders development.
The Elusive Quest for Growth: Economists’ Adventures and
Misadventures in the Tropics by William Easterly
(MIT Press, 2001)
A former World Bank economist discusses keys to economic growth and the failures of foreign aid.