PDR

THE PAKISTAN DEVELOPMENT REVIEW 

Ian Livingstone (Ed.). Development Economics and Policy: Readings. London: George Allen & Unwin. 1981. x + 353 pp.Hardback £ 17.50 and Paper• back £ 7.95.

The editor of a ‘book of readings’ has generally his back to the wall before the onslaught of prospective critics clamouring “why one more”. True, the marginal net private benefit to the editor from such publications can always be shown to be positive, or at least strictly non-negative, by reference to the notorious publish-or-perish syndrome. However, the need for a convincing demonstration of the positively of the expected marginal net social benefit from such books drags the reluctant editor gladiator into the arena. In many cases the spectacle is a pathetic one: the editor endlessly and vainly differentiating his goods from those of others even if that involves a comparison of the ‘bads’, indulging in omniscient subjectivism: “this is what / consider to be the best collection” (never mind if it is the nth-best), or patronizing those who have been forced by time, circumstance or public apathy into anonymity: “such articles were not easily accessible.” If all fails, and the editor also happens to be teaching a course in development economics, then even if the social profitability of such a collection falls far short of its private profitability, the situation can still be redeemed by the deus ex machina of the cause of pedagogy needing the helping hand of yet another book of readings.

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