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Pranab Bardhan

Pranab Bardhan is Professor of Economics at the University of California, Berkeley. He is the author of Scarcity, Conflicts, and Cooperation (MIT Press, 2004) and coeditor (with Christopher Udry) of Readings in Development Microeconomics, Volumes I and II (MIT Press, 2000).

Titles by This Author

Essays in the Political and Institutional Economics of Development

This wide-ranging review of some of the major issues in development economics focuses on the role of economic and political institutions. Drawing on the latest findings in institutional economics and political economy, Pranab Bardhan, a leader in the field of development economics, offers a relatively nontechnical discussion of current thinking on these issues from the viewpoint of poor countries, synthesizing recent research and reflecting on where we stand today.

The institutional framework of an economy defines and constrains the opportunities of individuals, determines the business climate, and shapes the incentives and organizations for collective action on the part of communities; Pranab Bardhan finds the institutional framework to be relatively weak in many poor countries. Institutional failures, weak accountability mechanisms, and missed opportunities for cooperative problem-solving become the themes of the book, with the role of distributive conflicts in the persistence of dysfunctional institutions a common thread.

Special issues taken up include the institutions for securing property rights and resolving coordination failures; the structural basis of power; commitment devices and political accountability; the complex relationship between democracy and poverty (with examples from India, where both have been durable); decentralization and devolution of power; persistence of corruption; ethnic conflicts; and impediments to collective action. Formal models are largely avoided, except in two chapters where Bardhan briefly introduces new models to elucidate currently under-researched areas. Other chapters review existing models, emphasizing the essential ideas rather than the formal details. Thus the book will be valuable not only for economists but also for social scientists and policymakers.

Micro-Theory

These two volumes of readings attempt to bring some degree of structure to a relatively diffuse field. Because of the sheer volume of high-quality work in development economics research, they are intended as a sampling of work at the frontier of the field, rather than as a comprehensive overview.

Volume I: Micro-Theory focuses on theoretical work. Topics covered include sharecropping as a principle-agent problem, fragmented duopolies, credit market imperfections, poverty traps, peer monitoring in credit cooperatives, coordination failures, human capital accumulation as an engine of growth, and environmental issues in development.

Empirical Microeconomics

These two volumes of readings attempt to bring some degree of structure to a relatively diffuse field. Because of the sheer volume of high-quality work in development economics research, they are intended as a sampling of work at the frontier of the field, rather than as a comprehensive overview.

Volume II: Empirical Microeconomics focuses on empirical work. Topics covered include the relationship between wages and health, the role of human capital and demographic change, the internal structure of households, information imperfections in factor markets, the permanent income hypothesis, the possibility of Pareto-efficient allocation of risk in villages, and the relationship between property rights and investment decisions.

Titles by This Editor

A Comparative Perspective

Over the past three decades the developing world has seen increasing devolution of political and economic power to local governments. Decentralization is considered an important element of participatory democracy and, along with privatization and deregulation, represents a substantial reduction in the authority of national governments over economic policy. The contributors to Decentralization and Local Governance in Developing Countries examine this institutional transformation from comparative and interdisciplinary perspectives, offering detailed case studies of decentralization in eight countries: Bolivia, Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Pakistan, South Africa, and Uganda.

Some of these countries witnessed an unprecedented "big bang" shift toward comprehensive political and economic decentralization: Bolivia in 1995 and Indonesia after the fall of Suharto in 1998. Brazil and India decentralized in an uneven and more gradual manner. In some other countries (such as Pakistan) devolution represented an instrument for consolidation of power of a nondemocratic national government. In China local governments were granted much economic but little political power. South Africa made the transition from the undemocratic decentralization of apartheid to decentralization under a democratic constitution. The studies provide a comparative perspective on the political and economic context within which decentralization took place, and how this shaped its design and possible impact.

Contributors:
Omar Azfar, Gianpaolo Baiocchi, Pranab Bardhan, Shubham Chaudhuri, Ali Cheema, Jean-Paul Faguet, Bert Hofman, Kai Kaiser, Philip E. Keefer, Asim Ijaz Khwaja, Justin Yifu Lin, Mingxing Liu, Jeffrey Livingston, Patrick Meagher, Dilip Mookherjee, Ambar Narayan, Adnan Qadir, Ran Tao, Tara Vishwanath, Martin Wittenberg