Suggested Readings


  1. For a general audience:

  2. Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty by Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson (New York: Crown Business, 2012). The relationship between political and economic institutions and how these impact the course of economic growth. Their analysis ranges over thousands of years of history and covers every corner of the globe.

    Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way to Fight Global Poverty by Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo (Public Affairs, 2011). A portrait of how the poorest people in the world live and an analysis of which anti-poverty programs are successful in aiding them. The authors emphasize the role that randomized controlled trials can play in assessing policy.

    It's Our Turn to Eat: The Story of a Kenyan Whistle-Blower by Michela Wrong (2009). An examination of corruption in Kenya, told through the story of the country’s top anti-corruption official.

    Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies by Jared Diamond (New York: W.W. Norton, 1997). An exploration of the role of geography in shaping long-run economic development.

    The White Man's Burden: Why the West's Efforts to Aid the Rest Have Done So Much Ill and So Little Good by William Easterly (2006). A history and critique of economic development policy as practiced by the World Bank and other international organizations.

    The Lever of Riches: Technological Creativity and Economic Progress by Joel Mokyr (New York: Oxford University Press, 1990). A narrative history of technological progress as well as an analysis of the economic forces that drive it.

    The Wealth and Poverty of Nations: Why Some Are So Rich and Some So Poor by David Landes (New York: Norton, 1998). An economic history of the last five centuries, emphasizing the roles of culture, geography, politics, and technology in contributing to regions' differing economic outcomes.

    Plagues and Peoples by William H. McNeill (New York: Doubleday, second edition 1998). An examination of the role that disease has played in human history.

    The European Miracle: Environments, economics, and geopolitics in the history of Europe and Asia by E. L. Jones (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, third edition, 2003). An investigation into why Europe developed before the rest of the world, focusing on the interaction of geography and government.

    A Concise History of World Population by Massimo Livi-Bacci (Oxford: Blackwell, second edition 1997). A history of fertility, mortality, and the factors which influenced them.

    Free Trade Under Fire by Douglas Irwin (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2003). A spirited defense of free trade.

    The Skeptical Environmentalist by Bjørn Lomborg (Cambridge University Press, 2001). A controversial attack on the factual basis of environmentalists' doomsday predictions.

  3. More advanced readings:

  4. Introduction to Economic Growth by Charles I. Jones (New York: W.W. Norton, second edition, 2002). An analysis of theories of economic growth, with a particular focus on models of technological progress. The level of mathematical sophistication is somewhat higher than in my textbook, but far more accessible than the books by Acemoglu and by Aghion and Howitt.

    The Economics of Growth by Phillipe Aghion and Peter Howitt (2008). A comprehensive introduction to the theoretical and empirical analysis of economic growth. Suitable for advanced undergraduates as well as graduate students.

    Introduction to Modern Economic Growth by Daron Acemoglu. Covers both economic growth and related areas of macroeconomics. Comprehensive in its scope, but also very technically rigorous. Not suitable for readers without graduate training in economics.


Most communication among professional economists takes place through articles in professional journals, rather than through books. The very latest research is available as "working papers" (which have not yet appeared as articles). The SSRN Economic Growth Abstract Database has an extensive list of working papers that can be searched by keyword. Although many of the working papers posted on SSRN require payments for downloading, you can usually find a free copy of the same paper somewhere on the web, for example at one of the authors’ home pages.

Finally, the footnotes in my textbook cite many of the key articles in the area.