Current readings and Alan Krueger

I’ve recently gained access to a large university library and refreshed 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!)
  • 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!)
  • 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 the economist 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. He let big questions drive his methodological meticulousness. Otherwise, he could’ve just been any other neo-classical 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. 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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