Development Reading List
Supplemental readings and other resources to help you explore a full range of issues and debates related to the module materials.
Rocio Cara Labrador, “Haiti’s Troubled Path to Development,” last updated March 12, 2018.
A brief introduction to development in Haiti. (1,600 words)
James McBride, “How Does the U.S. Spend Its Foreign Aid?,” last updated October 1, 2018.
A summary of how much the U.S. government spends on foreign aid and how, where, and why it spends it. (2,000 words)
Richard Aidoo, “African Countries Have Started to Push Back Against Chinese Development Aid. Here’s Why.,” Washington Post, October 16, 2018.
A look at the several ways in which foreign aid can actually harm its recipients. (1,000 words)
Nurith Aizenman, “An Experiment Gives Cash Aid to the Poor. Is That Ethical?,” NPR, September 13, 2017.
An introduction to the idea of giving cash aid directly to those in need. (1,900 words)
Nurith Aizenman, “If We Bring the Good Life to All, Will We Destroy the Planet?,” NPR, February 7, 2018.
An accessible discussion of the need to balance development and sustainability. (900 words)
Malaka Gharib, “The Lies We Tell About Foreign Aid,” NPR, June 4, 2018.
An interview with writer Pablo Yanguas that discusses what he describes as a “dysfunctional aid system.” (1,000 words)
Charles Kenny, “If Everyone Gets Electricity, Can the Planet Survive?,” Atlantic, last updated September 29, 2015.
A look at the implications of the Sustainable Development Goals on global energy policy. (1,200 words)
Noah Smith, “Why the Developing World Started Gaining on the West,” Bloomberg News, October 18, 2018.
A detailed examination of why developing countries are growing faster than wealthy ones, and a look at the consequences thereof. (800 words)
Glenn Thrush, “Trump Embraces Foreign Aid to Counter China’s Global Influence,” New York Times, October 14, 2018.
An example of how foreign aid also serves the interests of the donor country. (1,600 words)
Paul Collier, The Bottom Billion: Why the Poorest Countries Are Failing and What Can Be Done About It, 2008.
An analysis of the fifty poorest countries in the world that discusses why development has been so difficult in those countries and suggests policy options. (224 pages)
Angus Deaton, The Great Escape: Health, Wealth, and the Origins of Inequality, 2013.
From a Nobel Prize–winning economist, an account of global development over the last 250 years. (362 pages)
William Easterly, The White Man’s Burden: Why the West’s Efforts to Aid the Rest Have Done So Much Ill and So Little Good, 2006.
A critical look at foreign aid. See Charles Kenny for a counterpoint. (443 pages)
Ian Goldin, Development: A Very Short Introduction, 2018.
A brief look at development from all angles. (214 pages)
Leon Hesser, The Man Who Fed the World: Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Norman Borlaug and His Battle to End World Hunger, 2006.
The story of Nobel Peace Prize winner Norman Borlaug, a central figure in the green revolution. (297 pages)
Charles Kenny, Getting Better: Why Global Development Is Succeeding—and How We Can Improve the World Even More, 2012.
An argument, opposing William Easterly and other critics’, that development policy is working. (274 pages)
Nina Munk, The Idealist: Jeffrey Sachs and the Quest to End Poverty, 2013.
A journalistic account of how economist Jeffrey Sachs’s theories played out in practice in villages in Uganda and Kenya. (274 pages)
Hans Rosling, Factfulness: Ten Reasons We’re Wrong About the World—and Why Things Are Better Than You Think, 2017.
A statistics-based argument that the world is better developed than many think. (341 pages)
Jeffrey Sachs, The Age of Sustainable Development, 2015.
The latest book from a leading voice in development economics. (544 pages)
Roger Thurow and Scott Kilman, Enough: Why the World’s Poorest Starve in an Age of Plenty, 2009.
Written by two journalists, a story of hunger in Africa. (338 pages)
Max Bearak and Lazaro Gamio, “The U.S. Foreign Aid Budget, Visualized,” Washington Post, October 18, 2016.
A visualization of the 2017 U.S. foreign aid budget, organized by type of aid and recipient.
The companion to Rosling’s book Factfulness, a website that uses statistics to argue that the world is not as bad off as many think.
United Nations, “Sustainable Development Goals Knowledge Platform.”
The official website for the Sustainable Development Goals that includes details on each goal, such as who is working on the goal and how, and information on progress made.
World Bank, “Atlas of Sustainable Development Goals 2018.”
A collection of data on global progress toward the Sustainable Development Goals.
An encyclopedic collection of global development data.
World Data Lab, “World Poverty Clock.”
A visualization of how quickly people are escaping and falling into poverty.
Council for Economic Education, “Gross Domestic Product”, 2019.
This brief video illustrates how GDP is calculated, and the differences among nominal, real, and per capita GDP. Also included is a Kahoot quiz on the topic. (6 minutes).