At IPIA, we often get asked about the best books we've read on economic development or what we've been reading recently. There are numerous great books out there, and not enough time to read them all! Here are some old favorites and a few new additions to the IPIA bookshelf.
Development as Freedom by Amartya Sen. This book is an excellent and thought-provoking statement by the 1988 winner of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences. Sen argues that the main goal of economic development should be to provide people with choices and self-determination in various spheres of life. But even more, he argues that freedom is both an important end goal for individuals, and the means for achieving economic prosperity for society as a whole.
The Bottom Billion by Paul Collier. Collier, a Professor of Economics and Director of the Center for the Study of African Economies at Oxford University, provides a useful counterpoint to Sen. Collier identifies a series of traps that create huge impediments to economic development, including conflict and geography. Collier was formerly director of Development
Research at The World Bank, so his ideas are deeply rooted in experience.
A World of Three Zeros by Muhammad Yunus. Yunus, of course, won the Nobel Peace Prize for his work establishing the microfinance institution the Grameen Bank, which he documents in his earlier book Banker to the Poor. In A World of Three Zeros he brings his inspirational tone to the confluence of poverty, unemployment and carbon emissions, offering a blueprint for the future.
Tomorrow's Table: Organic Farming, Genetics, and the Future of Food by Pamela Ronald and Raoul Adamchak. If you want thought-provoking reading, look no further. Ronald is Professor of Plant Pathology at the University of California at Davis. Adamchak, her co-author and husband, is a farmer. Together, they provide a cogent and science-based argument for the combined use of organic farming methods and genetic modification to address a range of agricultural challenges.
Hungry for Disruption by Shen Ming Lee. Another forward looking book that surveys the range of scientific and technological advances that are quietly unfolding in the agricultural industry. From blockchains to drones, the author takes the reader on an interesting romp through the landscape of innovation, and how it is likely to shape the future of food.
Termites of the State by Vito Tanzi. Although this book is primarily about the history of economic growth in the industrialized nations, it offers a number of insights and lessons that are relevant to the process of agricultural development in poor nations. Breathtaking in its scope.