A Note on Readings

There are three required books for this course:

  1. Robert C. Allen (2011), Global Economic History: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford University Press)
  2. Peter Griffiths (2003), The Economist’s Tale (Zed Books)
  3. Evan Osnos (2015), Age of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Truth, and Faith in the New China (FSG)
  4. Nina Munk (2014), The Idealist: Jeffery Sachs and the Quest to End Poverty (Anchor)

Note that when I say there are “required” texts, I mean only that I have assigned you to read them (mostly) in their entirety, not that you must purchase them. You are encouraged to share copies, form anarcho-syndicalist book-trading collectives, make obscene and gratuitous use of the interlibray loan system, or do anything else necessary to ensure you have the texts to read and study from. Do note, however, that a recent Amazon search suggests that all four can be gotten for about $25, shipping included. I have chosen these texts in particular for their affordability, and there is no excuse for not having them in some form.

One additional note: We are going to read A LOT in this class. Maybe more than you’ve ever read before in a university class. Certainly more than most other classes at OU. Why? And why should you do it?

  • One reason is because the topic we’re exploring is both really substantively important, and really complicated. Experts disagree about a lot in this field, and no one perspective or textbook can expose you adequately to all the ideas I think a smart future development professional needs to be familiar with.
  • Another is because we’re also going to be writing a lot, and in order to write well and smartly, you need challenging ideas and examples to work with. You get those by reading, and by discussing what you read in a class setting (and also possibly at the bar after class with your classmates).
  • A third and less important reason is because if you choose to work in any kind of policy-oriented profession, one of the hallmarks of nearly all the work you will do for the first half of your career is that you will often feel like you don’t know enough, have enough time to learn background, or to look at everything that’s relevant to whatever project/report/proposal you’re preparing. Getting used to working with lots of material, reading it quickly and efficiently, figuring out the main points and takeaways, and relating it to what you already know is right up there with being a good writer and public speaker in terms of “soft skills” that will help you get and keep jobs. I will help you learn this skill by taking about how I read, and by showing you (in our lectures and discussions) how I approach complicated texts and pull out what’s important. You will help you learn these skills by reading a lot.
  • The worst reason, but also a real one, is because all of this reading will be necessary for your papers and essays. Much of your grade will be based on how well you are able to demonstrate knowledge of the ideas in the reading, and how effectively you synthesize the various competing perspectives and approaches they contain.



  • Tuesday, August 28: Introduction–What is Development?

United Nations Development Program, Human Development Report 2010, Chapter 1, “Reaffirming Human Development,” pp. 11-24 (NB: Link goes to the whole report. You only need the listed pages.)

Steven Radelet (2015), The Great Surge: The Ascent of the Developing World (Simon and Schuster), pp. 24-96

Further Reading

Amartya Sen (1999), Development as Freedom (New York: Anchor Books)

Mahbub ul Haq (2003), “The Human Development Paradigm,” in Sakiko Fukuda-Parr and A. K. Shiva Kuma (eds), Readings in Human Development (Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press), pp. 17-34

David Griggs et al (2013), “Sustainable Development Goals for People and Planet,” Nature, 495, pp. 305-7

United Nations Development Program, Human Development Report 2016: Digital Dividends

World Bank, World Development Indicators 2017


  • Thursday, August 30: How Do We Measure Development (and Why Does it Matter)?

Dwight Perkins et al (2013), Economics of Development, 7th edition, pp. 23-32; 40-53

Robert Costanza, Maureen Hart, Stephen Posner, John Talberth (2009), “Beyond GDP: The Need for New Measures of Progress,” Pardee Paper #4, Boston University Frederick S. Pardee Center for Center for  the Study of the Longer-Range Future

Diane Coyle, “The Way We Measure Economies is Inherently Sexist,” World Economic Forum, April 13, 2016

Alex Gladstein, “Why Dictators Love Development Statistics,” New Republic, April 26, 2018

Further Reading

Lorenzo Fioramonti (2013), Gross Domestic Problem: The Politics Behind the World’s Most Powerful Number (London: Zed Press)

Joseph Stiglitz, Amartya Sen, and Jean-Paul Fitoussi (2010), Mismeasuring Our Lives: Why GDP Doesn’t Add Up (New York: The New Press)

Morten Jerven (2012), “For Richer, For Poorer: GDP Revisions and Africa’s Statistical Tragedy,” African Affairs, 112/446, pp. 138–147



  • Tuesday, September 4: The Political Economy of Development for Dummies 

Jeffery Sachs (2005), The End of Poverty: Economic Possibilities for Our Time (Penguin), pp. 26-73, 244-65

William Easterly (2001), The Elusive Quest for Growth, pp. 25-44

Abhijit V. Banerjee and Esther Duflo (2007), “The Economic Lives of the Poor,” The Journal of Economic Perspectives, 21:1, pp. 141-168

Further Reading (and Watching)

On the idea of a “poverty trap”…

Sachs, Jeffrey D., John W. McArthur, Guido Schmidt- Traub, Margaret Kruk, Chandrika Bahadur, Michael Faye, and Gordon McCord (2004), “Ending Africa’s Poverty Trap.” Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, 1, pp. 117-216

If you’re not already familiar with the most common economic growth models, you might find these sources especially helpful…

Dwight Perkins et al (2013), Economics of Development, 7th edition, pp. 89-128

Tyler Cowen and Alex Tabbarok, Introduction to the Solow Model (video, five parts): No Math Introduction, Introduction, Comparative Statics, Taking the Model to Data, Productivity


  • Thursday, September 6: The Great Divergence (and the Maybe Great Convergence?)

Robert C. Allen (2011), Global Economic History: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford University Press), pp. 1-52

Lant Prichett (1997), “Divergence, Big Time,” Journal of Economic Perspectives, 11:3, pp. 3-17

Gregory Clark (2010), A Farewell to Alms: A Brief Economic History of the World (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press), pp. 19-70

Further Reading

William Baumol (1986), “Productivity Growth, Convergence, and Welfare: What the Long-Run Data Show,” American Economic Review, 76:5, pp. 1072-1085

Alexander Gerschenkron (1962), Economic Backwardness in Historical Perspective (New York: Praeger), Chapter 1

William McNeil (1963/1991), The Rise of the West (University of Chicago Press)


  • Tuesday, September 11: The Great Divergence, Explained? (I) – Big, Macro Explanations for Divergent Development

Jared Diamond (1999), Guns, Germs, and Steel, pp. 157-91

David S. Landes (2006), “Why Europe and the West? Why Not China?” The Journal of Economic Perspectives, vol. 20, no. 2, 2006, pp. 3–22.

Diego Comin, William Easterly, and Erick Gong (2010), “Was the Wealth of Nations Determined in 1000 BC?” American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, vol. 2, no. 3, 2010, pp. 65–97

Further Reading

Alfred W. Crosby (2004), Ecological Imperialism. 2nd edition (New York: Cambridge UP)

Jeffrey Sachs (2001), “Tropical Underdevelopment,” NBER Working Paper #8119

Max Weber, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism


  • Thursday, September 13: The Great Divergence, Explained? (II): Why Did the Industrial Revolution Happen in Britain (and not in China)?

Robert C. Allen (2011), Global Economic History: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford University Press), pp. 53-113

Joel Motyl (2017), “How Europe Won the Race to Prosperity,” BBC History Magazine, May 25, 2017, pp. 67-61

Kenneth Pomeranz (2002), “Political Economy and Ecology on the Eve of Industrialization: Europe, China, and the Global Conjuncture,” The American Historical Review, 107:2, pp. 425–446.


  • Tuesday, September 18: No Class, Professor Presenting at RESOLVE Network 2018 Global Forum on Countering Violent Extremism


  • Thursday, September 20: The Emergence of States, the Emergence of Growth (I): How Modern Political Orders and Modern Economies are Linked

Robert Bates (2010), Prosperity and Violence (2nd Ed) (W.W. Norton), pp. 34-66

Walter Scheidel (2017), The Great Leveler: Violence and the History of Inequality from the Stone Age to the Twenty First Century (Princeton University Press), pp. 25-85

U.S Department of Justice Civil Rights Division, Investigation of the Ferguson Police Force, March 5, 2014, “Background” and “Ferguson Law Enforcement Efforts are Focused on Generating Revenue,” pp. 6-16 (note that link is to the whole report. You only need to read the sections indicated)

Elinor Ostrom (2000), “Collective Action and the Evolution of Social Norms,” Journal of Economic Perspectives, 14:3, pp. 137-158

Further Reading

Mancur Olson (1993), “Dictatorship, Democracy, and Development,” American Political Science Review, 87:3, pp. 567-576

Henry Farrell. “Dark Leviathan: The Silk Road might have started as a libertarian experiment, but it was doomed to end as a fiefdom run by pirate kings.” Aeon. 20 February, 2015.

Hendrik Spruyt (1994), The Sovereign State and Its Competitors: An Analysis of Systems Change (Princeton: Princeton University Press)

Dipali Mukhopadhyay (2014), Warlords, Strongman Governors, and the State in Afghanistan (New York: Cambridge University Press), pp. 1-75

Douglass North, John Wallis, and Barry Weingast (2009), Violence and Social Orders: A Conceptual Framework for Interpreting Recorded Human History (New York: Cambridge University Press)


  • Tuesday, September 25: The Emergence of States, the Emergence of Growth (II) – Institutional and Political Explanations for Divergent Development

Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson (2012), Why Nations Fail, pp. 7-44, 70-95

Bruce Gilley (2017), “The Case for Colonialism,” Third World Quarterly (This article was retracted after publication.)

Nathan Nunn (2017), “Understanding the Long-Run Effects of Africa’s Slave Trades,” in The Long Economic and Political Shadow of History, Vol. 2, Stelios Michalopoulos and Elias Papaioannou (eds) (VoxEU: Centre for Economic Policy Research), pp. 47-48

Sara Lowes and Eduardo Montero (2017), “King Leopold’s Ghost: The Legacy of Labour Coercion in the DRC,” in The Long Economic and Political Shadow of History, Vol. 2, Stelios Michalopoulos and Elias Papaioannou (eds) (VoxEU: Centre for Economic Policy Research), pp. 47-48

Further Reading

Brandon Kendhammer, “A Controversial Article Praises Colonialism. But Colonialism’s Real Legacy was Ugly,” The Washington Post, September 19, 2017

Matthew Lange, James Mahoney, Matthias vom Hau (2006), “Colonialism and Development: A Comparative Analysis of Spanish and British Colonies,” American Journal of Sociology, 111:5, pp. 1412-62

Daron Acemoglu, Simon Johnson and James Robinson (2001), “The Colonial Origins of Comparative Development: An Empirical Investigation,” American Economic Review, 91:5, pp. 1369-1401

Kenneth Sokoloff and Stanley Engerman (2000), “Institutions, Factor Endowments and Paths of Development in the New World,” Journal of Economic Perspectives 14(3): 217-232.


  • Thursday, September 27The Logic of Political Behavior in Weak States (I): Conflict, Natural Resources, and Rent-Seeking

Michael Ross (2012), The Oil Curse (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press), pp. 27-62

Peter Lewis (1996), “From Prebendalism to Predation: The Political Economy of Decline in Nigeria,” Journal of Modern African Studies, 34:1, pp. 79-103

Michael Watts (1996), “Islamic Modernities? Citizenship, Civil Society and Islamism in a Nigerian City,” Public Culture, 8: 251-89

Further Reading

Thad Dunning (2008), Crude Democracy (New York: Cambridge University Press)

Karl, Terry Lynn (1997) The Paradox of Plenty: Oil Booms and Petro-States (Berkeley: University of California Press)

Pauline Jones Luong and Erika Weinthal (2010), Oil Is Not a Curse: Ownership Structure and Institutions in Soviet Successor States (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press).

 Todd Moss, Caroline Lambert, and Stephanie Majerowicz (2015), Oil to Cash: Fighting the Resource Curse through Cash Transfers (Washington, D.C.: Center for Global Development)

Michael Ross (2018), “The Politics of the Resource Curse: A Review,” in The Oxford Handbook of the Politics of Development, Carol Lancaster and Nicolas van de Walle (eds (Oxford University Press)


  • Tuesday, October 2: The Logic of Political Behavior in Weak States (II): Corruption and its Consequences

Samuel Huntington (1968), Political Order in Changing Societies (New Haven: Yale University Press), pp. 59-71

 Robert Gay (1999), “The Broker and the Thief: A Parable (Reflections on Popular Politics in Brazil),” Luso-Brazilian Review, 36:1, pp. 49-70
 Raymond Fisman and Miguel Edward (2007), “Corruption, Norms, and Legal Enforcement: Evidence from Diplomatic Parking Tickets,” Journal of Political Economy 115:6, pp. 1020-048.

Further Reading

Andrew Wedeman (2012), Double Paradox: Rapid Growth and Rising Corruption in China (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press), pp. 80-110

Susan Rose-Ackerman (2002), “When is Corruption Harmful?” in Arnold J. Heidenheimer and Michael Johnston, eds. Political Corruption: Concepts and Contexts (Transaction Publishers), pp. 353-74

Matthew T. Page (2018), A New Taxonomy for Corruption in Nigeria, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace




  • Thursday, October 4: Modernization Theory and Dependency Theory

Rene Dumont (1962/1966), False Start in Africa, chapter 8

Andre Gunder Frank (1966), “The Development of Underdevelopment,” Monthly Review, 18:4, pp. 17-13

McNamara, Robert. ‘Paupers of the World and How to Develop Them,’ (Excerpts from the Address to the Board of Governors, World Bank, Nairobi 1973).

Further Reading

John Rapley (2007), Understanding Development: Theory and Practice in the Third World (3rd Edition), pp. 13-62

W.W. Rostow (1960), The Stages of Economic Growth: A Non-Communist Manifesto (Cambridge University Press)

Walter Rodney (1972), How Europe Underdeveloped Africa (Bogle-l’Ouverture Press)

Frederick Cooper (1998), “Modernizing Bureaucrats, Backward Africans, and the Development Concept,” in F. Cooper and R. Packard, International Development and the Social Sciences (Berkeley: University of California Press), pp. 64-92.

Raul Prebisch (1950), The Economic Development of Latin America and its Principal Problems (New York: United Nations)


  • Tuesday, October 9:  ISI and the Failure of State Planning  

Robert Bates (1981), Markets and States in Tropical Africa: The Political Bases of Agricultural Policies, pp. 11-44

Leland Johnson (1967), “Problems of Import Substitution: The Chilean Automobile Industry,” Economic Development and Cultural Change, 15:2, pp. 202-16

James C. Scott (2001), Seeing Like a State: How Certain Schemes to Improve the Human Condition Have Failed (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press), Chapter 7

Further Reading

Albert Hirschman (1968), “The Political Economy of Import-Substituting Industrialization in Latin America,” The Quarterly Journal of Economics, 82:1, pp. 1-32

Stephan Haggard (1990), Pathways from the Periphery: The Politics of Growth in the Newly Industrializing Countries (Cornell University Press)


  • Thursday, October 11: The Foundations of Neoliberal Policies

John Williamson (1990), “What Washington Means By Policy Reform

Karin Fischer (2009). “The Influence of Neoliberals in Chile before, during, and after Pinochet,” in Philip Mirowski, and Dieter Plehwe, eds. The Road from Mont Pèlerin (Harvard University Press), pp.

Martha Finnemore (1998), “Redefining Development at the World Bank,” in F. Cooper and R. Packard, International Development and the Social Sciences (Berkeley: University of California Press), pp. 203-227.

Further Reading

Jeffery Sachs (2005), The End of Poverty: Economic Possibilities for Our Time, Chapters 5-7

Albert Hirschman (1981), “The Rise and Decline of Development Economics,” in Essays in Trespassing: Economics to Politics and Beyond (Cambridge University Press, 1981): pp. 1-24

David Harvey (2005), A Brief History of Neoliberalism (Oxford: Oxford University Press)


  •  Tuesday, October 16: Structural Adjustment as Seen From the Top-Down

Sarah Babb (2003), “The IMF in Sociological Perspective: A Tale of Organizational Slippage,” Studies in Comparative International Development, 38:2, pp. 3-27

William Easterly (2005), “What did Structural Adjustment Adjust?: The Association of Policies and Growth with Repeated IMF and World Bank Adjustment Loans,” Journal of Development Economics, 76:1, pp. 1–22

Nicolas Van de Walle (1999), African Economies and the Politics of Permanent Crisis (Cambridge University Press), pp. 152-87

Further Reading

Duncan Green (1996), “Latin America: Neoliberal Failure and the Search for Alternatives,” Third World Quarterly, 17:1, pp. 109-122.

Jose Antonio Ocampo (2004), “Latin America’s Growth and Equity Frustrations during Structural Reforms,” The Journal of Economic Perspectives, 18:2, pp. 67-88.

Sarah Babb (2013), “The Washington Consensus as transnational policy paradigm: Its origins, trajectory and likely successor,” Review of International Political Economy, 20:2, 268-297

Dani Rodrik (2006), “Goodbye Washington Consensus, Hello Washington Confusion? A Review of the World Bank’s ‘Economic Growth in the 1990s: Learning from a Decade of Reform’,” Journal of Economic Literature, 44(4), 973-987.


  • Thursday, October 18: Structural Adjustment as Seen from the Bottom-Up and the Politics of Famine (I)

Peter Griffiths (2003), The Economist’s Tale: A Consultant Encounters Hunger and the World Bank, pp. vii-123

Alex de Walle (2000), “Democratic Political Process and the Fight Against Famine,” IDS Working Paper #107

Further Reading

Michael Kevane (2014) Women and Development in Africa: How Gender Works, 2nd Ed (Boulder: Lynne Rienner Publishers)

Lourdes Benería (2003), Gender, Development, and Globalization: Economics as if All People Mattered. (New York: Routledge)

Cormac O Grada (2009), Famine: A Short History (Princeton University Press)

Michael Watts (1983), “Hazards and crises: A political economy of drought and famine in Northern Nigeria.” Antipode 15.1, pp. 24-34

Amartya Sen (1977), “Starvation and exchange entitlements: a general approach and its application to the great Bengal famine,” Cambridge Journal of Economics, 1:1, pp. 33-59


  • Tuesday, October 23: Structural Adjustment as Seen from the Bottom-Up and the Politics of Famine (II)

Peter Griffiths (2003), The Economist’s Tale: A Consultant Encounters Hunger and the World Bank, pp. 124-251

Yang Jisheng (2012), Tombstone: The Great Chinese Famine, 1958-1962, pp. 87-111320-49

Further Reading

Dan Banik (2011), “Growth and Hunger in India,” Journal of Democracy, 22:3, pp. 90-104

Oliver Rubin (2008), “The Malawi 2002 famine–destitution, democracy and donors,” Nordic journal of African studies, 17:1, pp.47-65.


  • Thursday, October 25: In-Class Film, Bamako (dir. Abderrahmane Sissako, 2006); Professor presenting at “Islam in Africa Speaker Series,” Harvard University




  • Tuesday, October 30:  Asia and the “New” State-Led Development?

Robert C. Allen (2011), Global Economic History: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford University Press), pp. 114-45

Chalmers Johnson (1999), “The Developmental State: The Odyssey of a Concept,” in Meredith Woo-Cummings, ed. The Developmental State (Cornell University Press)

Further Reading

Peter Evans (1995), Embedded Autonomy (Princeton University Press), pp. 43-73


  • Thursday, November 1: China: Industrialization, Urbanization, and Social Change 

Evan Osnos (2015), Age of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Truth, and Faith in the New China (FSG), pp. 3-180

Further Reading

Yuen Yuen Ang (2016), How China Escaped the Poverty Trap (Cornell University Press)

Jeremy Wallace (2014), Cities and Stability: Urbanization, Redistribution, and Regime Survival in China (Oxford University Press), Chapters 4, 5, and 6

Hsiao-Hung Pai (2012), “Factory of the World: Scenes from Guangdong,” Places


  • Tuesday, November 6: China Rising?



  • Thursday, November 8: What is Foreign Development Aid?

Roger Riddell (2007), Does Foreign Aid Really Work? (Oxford University Press), pp. 17-88

Alberto Alesina and David Dollar (2000), “Who Gives Foreign Aid to Whom and Why,” Journal of Economic Growth, 5:1, pp. 33-63

Ryan Briggs (2017), “Does Foreign Aid Target the Poorest?,” International Organization, 71, pp. 187-206

Further Reading

Carol Lancaster (2009), Foreign Aid: Diplomacy, Development, Domestic Politics (University of Chicago Press), “USAID: A History of US Foreign Aid


  • Tuesday, November 13:  Group Project Work, Professor in Kano, Nigeria at Center for Islamic Civilization and Interfaith Dialogue Conference


  • Thursday, November 15: Group Project Work, Professor in Kano, Nigeria at Center for Islamic Civilization and Interfaith Dialogue Conference


  • Tuesday, November 20: What is an “Effective” Aid Project or Program? (I)

James Ferguson with Larry Lohmann (1994), “The Anti-Politics Machine: ‘Development’ and Bureaucratic Power in Lesotho,” The Ecologist, 24:5, pp. 176-181

Kim Yi Dionne (2017), Doomed Interventions, selections TBD


  • Thursday, November 22: No Class, Thanksgiving Holiday (all OU classes cancelled)


  • Tuesday, November 27: What is an “Effective” Aid Project or Program? (II)

Nina Munk (2014), The Idealist: Jeffery Sachs and the Quest to End Poverty (Anchor), pp. 1-151

 Further Reading

William Easterly (2006), The White Man’s Burden: Why the West’s Efforts to Aid the Rest Have Done So Much Ill and So Little Good (Penguin)

Wendy Hunter and Natasha Borges Sugiyama (2014), “Transforming Subjects into Citizens: Insights from Brazil’s Bolsa Família,” Perspectives on Politics, 12, pp 829-845.

Christopher Blattman and Paul Niehaus (2014), “Show them the Money: Why Giving Cash Helps Alleviate Poverty,” Foreign Affairs, 93:3, pp. 117-26


  • Thursday, November 29: No Class, Professor at African Studies Association Conference


  • Tuesday, December 4: Does Aid Work? (II)

Nina Munk (2014), The Idealist: Jeffery Sachs and the Quest to End Poverty (Anchor), pp. 155-236

Ian Parker, “The Poverty Lab,” The New Yorker, May 17, 2010

Lant Prichett, “An Homage to the Randomistas on the Occasion of the J-PAL 10th Anniversary: Development as a Faith-Based Activity,”
Center for Global DevelopmentMarch 10, 2014

 Further Reading

Michael Clemens and Gabriel Demombynes (2013), “The New Transparency in Development Economics: Lessons from the Millennium Villages Controversy,” CGDEV Working Paper, #342

Abdul Lateef Jameel Poverty Action Lab, “Introduction to Evaluations”

Jeff Tollefson (2015), “Revolt of the Randomistas,” Nature, 524:13, pp. 150-53


  • Thursday, December 6: What’s the Solution?

Steven Radelet (2015), The Great Surge: The Ascent of the Developing World (Simon and Schuster), pp. 231-52

Sustainable Development Goals In Order Project (Look around the site, emphasis on the “Goals” and “Targets” sequence rankings)

ODI, “The SAVI programme in Nigeria: towards politically smart, locally led development,” October 2014 (Watch the video)