Saturday, July 07, 2012

On Our Development Economics

Last week, I had a lunch with an economist who has published some articles in leading journals of the profession using Indonesia as data source. It was a nice conversation on various things Indonesia from what a Professor title really means (no easy answer on this) to why there are so few Indonesian economists to who's who in Indonesian economists (small) circle.

Then he asked this: "How do you guys teach Development Economics?"

It took me probably four or five seconds of awkward silence -- the time for me to recall syllabus of my undergrad's Development Economics and some more recent courses related to Development Economics in the Department that I knew, and reconcile them with syllabus of the same courses in classes in his Department or other Department in another side of the river that I am also familiar with.

I had to do some jujitsu to make our current state of Development Economics not look too terribly lagged behind, only to, in the end, admit that we in Indonesian universities badly need an upgrade and update on the issue.

I think the current Development Economics no longer so much discuss structural transformation or long run growth or inequality from macro perspective, but moves toward on how to make marginal improvement for effectiveness of (credible) public policies at micro level. The contemporary Development Economics also makes extensive use of now more widely available micro data and/or feasible experiment/surveys equipped with now much better (microeconometrics) tools.

And this is perhaps what Department of Economics in Indonesian universities need to catch up with.


  1. Should I point out the obvious, that the first step would be to actually have someone well versed in that kind of applied micro/micro-econometric approach to development teach those courses?

  2. In 2007 I experimented with my Dev-Ec class by using the materials from PED-101 and STM-103 :) (Zal, you know those codes right?)

  3. Great post, Zal! Kirim dong ke temen elo di milis itu :-)