Development Issues- ‘Economic Development’ Book Review

Economic Development is the 12th edition book of Michael P. Todaro and Stephen C. Smith, published in 2015. Several groups of people can primarily use the book. Its audience can be economic lecturers, students, economists, the public interested in knowing about the economy and the government. For the lecturers, they need a guide book to teach students. Even though they are knowledgeable in economics, Lecturers may not fully integrate everything they have to teach. The book is structured such that it is divided into sections that allow teachers to enlighten their students effectively. For instance, a chapter by chapter guide helps a lecturer know which topics to teach first and how systematic the issues should follow each other.

The book is an essential tool for all economic students. Even though teachers teach them, the book provides detailed descriptions of what they ought to know about economics. For instance, a lecturer may only pinpoint the main points of the Lewis two-sector model; therefore, it is the student’s responsibility to find more about the model. In such a case, the book is vital as it will give the student the history of the model and its application in economics.  The book’s audience may also be economists. From time to time, they will require to renew their knowledge or acquire new knowledge. Instead of going back to school, some may opt to study the book as it has everything they need. Since the book is the latest version that has integrated the latest research in the field of economics, it is crucial to economists.

Lastly, the government may also use the book to study the patterns of economics. More so, the government is responsible for helping citizens eliminate poverty and propagate economic development. While many government officials may not have background knowledge of economics, the book is crucial because it will provide them with an outline of the possible ways of developing a country’s economy. For instance, part two of the book is all about poverty inequality, population, urbanization, agriculture, environment, etc., all that can help the government develop the economy of a country. Hence, the book is essential to lecturers, students, economics, and the government.


Background of the Authors

 The authors of the Book are Michael P. Todaro and Stephen C. Smith. Michael Paul Todaro is an American who specialized in the field of economics. Michael was born on May 14th, 1942, and is one of the earliest economists who pioneered development economics. In 1968, Michael earned a Ph.D. in economics after writing a successful thesis titled “The Urban Employment Problem in Less Developed Countries – An Analysis of Demand and Supply.” As an economist, his career is evident when he taught as an economics professor at New York University for eighteen years. At the same time, he served as the senior associate at the Population Council for more than 20 years. Todaro has written many economics articles, such as the urban employment problem in less developed countries, and forty-nine other journal articles. Besides, he is an author of eight books, including the economic development book. Additionally, for six years, Todaro lived and taught economics-related issues in Africa. Besides being a lecture and senior associate, he has also been a Roaster member and a Rockefeller Foundation director.

Stephen Charles Smith is also an American economist, author, and professor born on April 24th, 1955. Like Todaro, he earned the Ph.D. honor from Cornell University after a successful thesis titled “On Employment and Local Public Goods in Labor-Managed and Participatory Firms and Labor Unions: Institutions, Economic Theory and Econometrics.” He has a strong background in the field of economics that has prompted his success. For instance, he was once a director of the Institute for International Economic Policy, an economics professor at the George Washington University, and an economic editor at the Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization. Besides, he has also served as an advisor at BRAC USA. Stephen has co-authored and authored many books, including the Economic Development, 12th edition, with Torado. Also, he has his own book titled “Ending Global Poverty: A Guide to What Works,” and many articles concerning economics. His significant contribution to the field of economy focuses on ending poverty and economic development.

Main ideas and Objectives of the book

The book has focused on three main ideas and objectives. The first idea and aim of the book are to introduce the concept of economic development. As its title suggests, the book’s primary goal is to enlighten its audience on all the concepts related to economic growth. The authors have accomplished the idea effectively by starting to explain the global perspective of economic development. This is crucial to the reader because economic development involves the world and its people as a whole. The book also gives the reader insight into how economic development came to be through classical theories. It is in this objective that the book focuses on the Lewis two-sector and multiple equilibrium models. Afterward, it explains what has changed in the field and the contemporary models of development. The whole objective and idea are vital to the reader because readers understand economics basics, which makes the rest of the book easier to understand.

Another central idea the book explains is the problems underlying economic development. As much people try so hard to live better lives, some issues lag the overall economy behind. In this section, the book effectively accomplishes it by several subtopics. One, by talking about poverty, inequality, and development. The book tries to show how inequality causes poverty and hinders growth in the poor population. This section gives an example of sociological theories such as the conflict theory. Secondly, the authors also focused on how population growth is a problem to economic development. Besides the two issues, the book has focused on other significant issues: rural-urban migration, limited human capital like education, environment, and the market’s roles.

The last objective is to explain how international and macro policies affect economic development. In this section, the book focuses on international trade and development strategy. International trade, its strategy, and policies are crucial in determining the direction of the global economy. It also looks at how debts, financial crises, and stabilization policies contribute to either an increase or decline in economic development. Additionally, financial aids, fiscal policies, and investments have a role in a nation’s economy. In this section, the main idea is how monetary policies affect individuals, organizations, countries, and the world. The unit is crucial as it enlightens readers on what investments, financial aids can propel them economically.

The Context of the Book

The book is written in a policy-oriented context where it presents economic theory through critical policy debates and specific case studies that its audience can relate to. It focuses more on the public and the social policy process in the economy. Most importantly, it focuses on both the developed and developing economies of various countries. It explains the unexpected economic progress that has been witnessed in many countries. The vital part is that even though economic development has been noticed, the book seeks to uncover the enormous challenges and problems that can erupt in the coming years. It employs many case studies such as comparative economic development in Pakistan and Bangladesh, case studies from China, Kenya, Ghana, the USA, South Korea, Botswana, and many other countries (Todaro & Smith, 2015). For instance, Kenya’s case is about the need to improve agricultural extension for women, which is quite a good case study. The overall context that the book has been based on allows readers to understand how economic theory relates to the problems, opportunities, and lives of people, more so, in developing countries.

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Comparison with other Works

If compared to other works in economics, the book is far much better. The primary reason is that it is a new version that integrates all the latest research. Being an updated version, it has incorporated new topics, new statics, and the global perspective, which other materials may not have. Notably, it differs from other economics materials in three significant ways. Firstly, it provides its audiences with a balanced introduction of economic development theory. Unlike other materials like “Introduction to Modern Economic Development” by Acemoglu (2008), the book first introduces the concept of economic theory through the application of both classical and modern approaches. Also, it starts with examining how the global economy, which is enlightening.

Secondly, unlike other materials, the book introduces economic models within the context of specific countries. The authors intend the book to foster the audience to understand the real problems and challenges that developing countries face using case studies. This way, readers learn to analyze and understand the ongoing policy debates. Lastly, the book is different as it incorporates the latest research in the economics field, which keeps learners updated.

Strengths and Weaknesses

There are no many comments about the book’s strengths and weaknesses; however, says that it is the leading book in the field of economics (“Economic development, 12th edition,” n.d.). This implies that the book is highly rated, which is one of the strengths. According to Google books, the book is one of the best in terms of balanced introduction and incorporation of the latest research (“Economic development,” n.d.). However, from my own perspective, I would also add that one strength of the book is how it has used case studies from across the globe to explain economic development. Its weaknesses have not been stated, but I feel that the book could have had a section of recommendations after assessing all those case studies and the problems and challenges of economic development. Nevertheless, it is a great book that every economist requires.  


Acemoglu, D. (2008). Introduction to modern economic growth. Princeton University Press.

Economic development, 12th edition. (n.d.). The world’s learning company | Pearson.

Economic development. (n.d.). Google Books.

Todaro, M. P., & Smith, S. C. (2015). Economic development. Prentice Hall.

The urban employment problem in less developed countries: An analysis of demand and supply. (n.d.). Authentication error – ProQuest.