Fifteen Eighty Four

Academic perspectives from Cambridge University Press


The UNU-WIDER-CUP Elements series in Development Economics, Six Months On

Kunal Sen

Its been a busy six months since the launch of the UNU-WIDER-CUP Elements series in Development Economics in November 2022. Three titles have been published, the first was  The 1918–20 influenza pandemic: A retrospective in the time of COVID-19, by Prema-chandra Athukorala and Chaturica Athukorala, which provides an analysis of the research from the last century to place the current pandemic in historical context. It identifies where there are parallels and lessons about what may come. This important contribution helps us to better understand the lessons we failed to learn from the 1918-20 experience and how to face future pandemics.

The second is Parental investments and children’s human capital in low to middle income countries, by Jere Behrman, which reviews the literature on investments in children’s human capital, the determinants, and the effects on poverty and inequality. It provides valuable insights into the gaps and flaws in the policy analysis to-date, providing guidance for researchers and policymakers alike.

The third is Great Gatsby and the Global South – Intergenerational mobility, income inequality and development, by Diding Sakri, Andy Sumner and Arief Yusuf. This Elements manuscript surveys the area of intergenerational mobility, conceptually and empirically; it presents a new estimate for a developing country, namely Indonesia; it discusses the ‘Great Gatsby Curve’ and highlights the different positions of developed and developing countries. Finally, it presents a theoretical framework to explain the drivers of mobility and the stickiness or otherwise of inequality across time.

One more Elements is forthcoming – Varieties of Structural Transformation: Patterns, Determinants and Consequences, by myself. There has been an incredible amount of interest from prospective authors in the series – seventeen more proposals have been received and accepted. In the next year or so, we expect that there will be several new Elements published from the accepted proposals.

What is the series about? In line with UNU-WIDER’s mandate, the series intends to address the big picture questions in economic development. It will provide authoritative contributions on important topics in development economics from leading scholars. The series will cover both micro and macro aspects of development economics. It will be consciously agnostic in its coverage of topics and will not privilege one approach over another. It will welcome both mainstream and heterodox contributions in the field of development economics. It will cover both traditional topics in development economics, such as macroeconomics, inequality and poverty, and economic transformation, as well as emerging fields, such as environmental sustainability, conflict, and political economy.

For these and future volumes in the Elements series, the editorial team is comprised of senior UNU-WIDER research staff, as well as leading development economists drawn from UNU-WIDER’s network. Each Element appeals to both academic and policy-oriented audiences. They provide concise but comprehensive overviews of the literature and they also contribute new knowledge, with expert insights into where researchers should look next and how policymakers can apply knowledge more effectively.

Over the next year, look for each new Element in the series on the dedicated website.

About The Author

Kunal Sen

Kunal Sen, UNU-WIDER Director, is Editor-in-Chief of the Cambridge Elements in Development Economics series. Professor Sen has over three decades of experience in academic and app...

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