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I began my career in teaching, research and service in economics in 1968 when I completed my PhD at the University of Illinois (Urbana-Champaign). My first academic appointment was at Duke University, where I was hired as Assistant Professor of Economics in 1969. Two years later I moved to Harvard for a joint appointment in Economics, Law and the Development Advisory Service, (later the Harvard Institute for International Development). I returned to Duke as Professor of Economics and Public Policy in 1984, and later became Dean of the Graduate School and the Dean of Arts and Science.

In 1993 I was selected as President of Rice University, and served in that position until mid-2004. Since then I served as University Professor and Zingler Professor of Economics at Rice. And, in 2015 I was conferred the title of President Emeritus of Rice University.

This is not my first textbook in Economic Development. In 1983, I completed the first edition of Economics of Development with three Harvard University co-authors. The textbook was known as the Gillis, Perkins, Roemer and Snodgrass text for the first five editions.

The present textbook bears scant resemblance to that very successful textbook, as I have had ample time since the early eighties to reflect upon my scholarship and field work. Some of my views changed as a result.

The present book reflects, among other things, my experience on the ground with economic development in nearly 30 nations. This includes very substantial experience in Indonesia over the period 1971-2003, Colombia (1967-1985), Bolivia (1975-1981), Ecuador (1980-84), Ghana (1968-71), Vietnam (2005-2014) and North Korea (2008-2014). I have also benefited from having worked on economic development issues in Panama, Honduras, Mexico, Surinam, Zambia, the Soviet Union (before 1990), China (several occasions from 1988-2005), Pakistan, Bangladesh and Thailand.

Since stepping down as President of Rice in 2004, I have taught a senior level Economic Development course every year save 2005. The course covers two semesters. This book is derived mainly, but not wholly, from my class notes.

The present book, Economic Development for the 21 st Century bears scant resemblance to the textbook I first co-authored with Harvard colleagues over 30 years ago. Over that period, I have had ample opportunity to reflect not only on my own research, teaching and field work, but the vastly changed circumstances facing poorer nations.

Now versus then

In the early eighties, the conventional wisdom in economics (and demography) was that the world was facing a disastrous population explosion . But owing to the rapid, and unforeseen declines in fertility in almost all regions of the world save the Middle East, we now face in many nations, including formerly poor ones, a population implosion.

Fifty years ago, real per capita income in China was barely above US$100. By 2013, per capita income in China (properly measured) was about US$7,500. This amounts to a 75-fold increase in less than 3 generations —unprecedented in world history.

Fifty years ago, the U.S. was the largest economy in the world. It remains so, but not by much. China now has the second largest economy.

The third largest economy—to the surprise of many—is India, which began strong growth only after 1982.

Ten years ago, the U.S. was the largest emitter of greenhouse gases. By 2014, the U.S. was in second place in this category, as China was then responsible for nearly twice the levels of U.S. emissions.

The above is by no means an exhaustive list of the remarkable changes in recent experiences with economic development worldwide. Others would surely include the rapid spread of globalization (both economic and otherwise), a stronger worldwide focus on environmental issues, the collapse of communism in China, Russia and Vietnam, notable increases in mobility of capital across natural borders, the rapidly changing roles of foreign investment and in economic development, and much more.

This collection seeks, it is to be hoped not vainly, to bring into focus all of these marked changes in prospects for economic development in over 120 nations traditionally-but not always accurately-referred to as emerging nations.

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Source:  OpenStax, Economic development for the 21st century. OpenStax CNX. Jun 05, 2015 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11747/1.12
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