Current Readings & Alan Krueger (1960-2019)

I’ve recently benefited greatly from using all the resources available at the LSE to refresh myself with some academic literature. Here’s a few works that I’ve been reading:

  • Rodrik, D. (2015). “Economics Rules: The Rights and Wrongs of the Dismal Science”. New York: W.W. Norton & Company.
  • Morjaria, A. (2014). “Is Democracy Detrimental for the Environment in Developing Countries? Evidence from Kenya”. Working Paper, p. 1-57, Harvard University.
  • Burgess, R., Jedwab, R., Miguel, E., Morjaria, A. & Padro i Miquel, G. (2015). “The Value of Democracy: Evidence from Road Building in Kenya”. American Economic Review, 105(6), p. 1817-1851. (My favourite paper!)

I’m about to finish the latter piece and believe that the Morjaria (2014) piece is a build-up to the latter. Will attempt to write a brief summary and give my thoughts on both of them once I’ve finished reading.

  • Besley, T. & Coate, S. (1997). “An Economic Model of Representative Democracy”. The Quarterly Journal of Economics, 112(1), p. 85-114. (this one was quite challenging to follow, though it provided a nice technical refreshment!)
  • Besley. T. & Kudamatsu, M. (2007). “Making Autocracy Work”. LSE STICERD Research Paper, DEDPS 48, p 1-67.
  • Varshney, A. (2015). “Asian Democracy through an Indian Prism”. The Journal of Asian Studies, 74(4), p. 917-926.
  • Varshney, A. (1998). “Why Democracy Survives”. Journal of Democracy, 9(3), p. 36-50.

In terms of what’s next on my reading list, I’m especially looking forward to dig further into the works of Alan Krueger (1960-2019), in honour of him. He was an academic economist whom I deeply admired since my undergraduate years. I looked up to him as one of my lifetime role models: an economist who used economics to serve the public good and avoided being captured by interest groups, which were more likely to push forward economics research that would place society’s most vulnerable groups at greater disadvantages during policy formations. He let empirical evidence shape theory rather than the other way around. Otherwise, he could’ve just been any conservative, and at times, polemic economist.

He passed away last month by suicide. I mourn him, because there weren’t and aren’t many scholars like him in the economics field anymore. To fully grasp his immense contributions to economics and the field’s potential of carrying a greater progressive role in policy, I recommend reading obituaries especially by Arindrajit Dube, Lawrence Summers and Miles Corak. And most devastatingly, his sudden death made me realise that the most accomplished and kind people may also be the ones who carry the most pain of others, all by themselves:

Here are a few other works that are soon up for reading:

  • Krueger B., A. (2019). “Rockonomics: A Backstage Tour of What the Music Industry Can Teach Us About Economics and Life”. Currency.
  • Acemoglu, D., Naidu, S., Restrepo, P. & Robinson A. , James (2019). “Democracy Does Cause Growth”. Journal of Political Economy, 127(11), p. 47-99.
  • Ager, P., Boustan P., L. & Eriksson, K. (2019). “The Intergenerational Effects of a Large Wealth Shock: White Southerners After the Civil War”. NBER Working Paper, 25700, p. 1-27.

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