Introduction to economic growth

Updated July 2006

This page lists books and articles that are a good introduction to theory and/or evidence on economic growth. A more complete list of books on growth is also available.

The best places to start, for those new to the field, are probably the recent books by Easterly, Gylfason, Helpman, Jones, and Weil. For those familiar with the basic ideas, the symposium in the Winter 1994 issue of the Journal of Economic Perspectives has some good discussion.

A very good introduction to growth theory is provided by Solow (2000). Longer and more technical presentations of growth models can be found in the books by Aghion and Howitt (1998) and Barro and Sala-i-Martin (2004). Empirical work is surveyed by Durlauf, Johnson and Temple (2005), Durlauf and Quah (1999), McGrattan and Schmitz (1999) and Temple (1999), the last being the least technical of the four. Keely and Quah (1998) examine the role of technology in growth.


New! Understanding growth - a special issue of the IMF's Finance & Development magazine, from March 2006


New! Aghion, Philippe and Durlauf, Steven N. (2005). Handbook of Economic Growth. North-Holland: Amsterdam.

New! Durlauf, Steven N., Johnson, Paul A., and Temple, Jonathan R. W. (2005). Growth econometrics. In P. Aghion and S. N. Durlauf (eds.) Handbook of Economic Growth, Volume 1A, North-Holland: Amsterdam, 2005, pp. 555-677.

Weil, David N. (2005). Economic growth Pearson, Addison Wesley.


Barro, Robert J. and Sala-i-Martin, Xavier (2004). Economic growth (Second edition). Boston: MIT Press.

George, Donald A. R., Oxley, Les and Carlaw, Kenneth I. (2004). Surveys in economic growth: theory and empirics Oxford: Blackwell. This volume collects articles from a special issue of the Journal of Economic Surveys.

New! Helpman, Elhanan (2004). The mystery of economic growth. Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA.


Rogers, Mark (2003). Knowledge, Technological Catch-up and Economic Growth. Edward Elgar.


Easterly, William (2001). The elusive quest for growth: economists' adventures and misadventures in the tropics. MIT Press, July.

Easterly, William and Levine, Ross (2001). It's not factor accumulation: stylized facts and growth models. World Bank Economic Review, 15(2), 177-219.

Kenny, Charles and David Williams (2001) What Do Economists Know About Economic Growth ? Or Why Don't They Know Very Much? World Development, 29(1).

Romer, David (2001). Advanced macroeconomics, 2nd edition, chapters 1-3. McGraw-Hill, Boston, Mass.


New! Ahn, Sanghoon and Hemmings, Philip (2000). Policy influences on economic growth in OECD countries: an evaluation of the evidence. OECD ECO working paper.

New! Aron, Janine (2000). Growth and institutions: a review of the evidence. World Bank Research Observer, February, 15(1).

Solow, Robert M. (2000). Growth theory: an exposition (2nd edition). Oxford University Press, Oxford. This book brings together his Radcliffe lectures on exogenous growth theory, his Nobel Prize lecture, and his Siena Lectures on endogenous growth theory.


Durlauf, Steven N. and Quah, Danny T. (1999). The new empirics of economic growth. In Handbook of macroeconomics. Volume 1A. Amsterdam, New York and Oxford: Elsevier Science, North-Holland, 235-308.

Gylfason, Thorvaldur (1999). Principles of Economic Growth. Oxford University Press, Oxford.

McGrattan, Ellen R. and Schmitz, James A. Jr (1999). Explaining cross-country income differences. In Handbook of macroeconomics. Volume 1A. Amsterdam, New York and Oxford: Elsevier Science, North-Holland, 669-737.

Temple, Jonathan (1999). The new growth evidence. Journal of Economic Literature, 37(1), March, 112-156.

Topel, Robert (1999). Labor markets and economic growth. In Handbook of labor economics. Volume 3C. Amsterdam; New York and Oxford: Elsevier Science, North-Holland, 2943-84.


Aghion, Philippe and Howitt, Peter (1998). Endogenous growth theory. The MIT Press, Cambridge.

Keely, Louise C. and Quah, Danny T. (1998). Technology in growth. CEP discussion paper no. 391.


Brunetti, Aymo (1997). Political variables in cross-country growth analysis. Journal of Economic Surveys, 11(2), 163-190.

de la Fuente, Angel (1997). The empirics of economic growth and convergence: a selective review. Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, 21, 23-73.

Jones, Charles I. (1997). An introduction to economic growth. Norton.

Jones, Charles I. (1997). On the evolution of the world income distribution. Journal of Economic Perspectives, Summer, 11(3), 19-36.

Jones, Larry and Manuelli, Rodolfo (1997). The sources of growth. Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, 21, 75-114.

Klenow, Peter and Rodriguez-Clare, Andres (1997). Economic Growth: a review essay. Journal of Monetary Economics, 40(3), 597-617.

Nelson, Richard (1997). How new is new growth theory? Challenge, 40(5), September/October, 29-58.

Sachs, Jeffrey D. and Warner, Andrew M. (1997). Fundamental sources of long-run growth. American Economic Review, May, 87(2), 184-88.


Cameron, Gavin M. F. (1996). Innovation and economic growth. CEP discussion paper no. 277.

Crafts, N. F. R. and Toniolo, G. (1996). Economic growth in Europe since 1945. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

McCallum, B. T. (1996). Neoclassical vs. endogenous growth analysis: an overview. Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond Economic Quarterly, Fall 1996. Also NBER working paper no. 5844.

Olson, Mancur (1996). Big bills left on the sidewalk: why some nations are rich, and others poor. Journal of Economic Perspectives, 10(2), Spring 1996, 3-24.


Barro, Robert J. and Sala-i-Martin, Xavier (1995). Economic growth. McGraw-Hill, Boston, Mass.

Crafts, N. F. R. (1995). Exogenous or endogenous growth? The Industrial Revolution reconsidered. Journal of Economic History, December, 745-772

Mankiw, N. Gregory (1995). The growth of nations. Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, 1


Aghion, P. and Howitt, P. (1994). Endogenous technical change: the Schumpeterian perspective.In L. L. Pasinetti and R. M. Solow (eds.)Economic growth and the structure of long-term development. Macmillan, London.

Alesina, A. and Perotti, R. (1994). The political economy of growth: a critical survey of the recent literature. World Bank Economic Review, 8(3), 351-371.

Fagerberg, J. (1994). Technology and international differences in growth rates. Journal of Economic Literature, 1147-1175.

Garcia-Penalosa, C. (1994). Inequality and growth: a note on recent theories. Investigaciones Economicas, 18, 97-116.

Grossman, Gene M. and Helpman, Elhanan (1994). Endogenous innovation in the theory of growth. Journal of Economic Perspectives, Winter 1994, 23-44.

Nelson, Richard R. (1994). What has been the matter with neoclassical growth theory? In G. Silverberg and L. Soete (eds.) The economics of growth and technical change. Edward Elgar, Aldershot.

Pack, Howard (1994). Endogenous growth theory: intellectual appeal and empirical shortcomings. Journal of Economic Perspectives, 8, 55-72.

Romer, Paul M. (1994). The origins of endogenous growth. Journal of Economic Perspectives,Winter 1994, 8, 3-22.

Solow, Robert M. (1994). Perspectives on growth theory. Journal of Economic Perspectives, Winter 1994, 45-54.


Abramovitz, M. (1993). The search for the sources of growth: areas of ignorance, old and new. Journal of Economic History, 53, 217-243.

Hammond, P. J. and Rodriguez-Clare, A. (1993). On endogenizing long run growth. Scandinavian Journal of Economics, 95, 391-425.

Romer, Paul M. (1993). Idea gaps and object gaps in economic development. Journal of Monetary Economics, 32(3), December, 543-73.


Boltho, A. and Holtham, G. (1992). The assessment: new approaches to economic growth. Oxford Review of Economic Policy, 8(4), Winter, 1-14.

Helpman, Elhanan (1992). Endogenous macroeconomic growth theory. European Economic Review, 36, 237-267.

Krugman, Paul (1992). Toward a counter-counterrevolution in development theory. Proceedings of the World Bank Annual Conference on Development Economics.

Van der Ploeg, F. and Tang, P. J. G. (1992). The macroeconomics of growth: an international perspective. Oxford Review of Economic Policy, 8(4), Winter, 15-28.

Verspagen. B. (1992). Endogenous innovation in neo-classical growth models: a survey. Journal of Macroeconomics, Fall 1992, 631-662.


Grossman, Gene M. and Helpman, Elhanan (1991). Innovation and growth in the global economy. MIT Press, Cambridge, Mass.

Solow, Robert M. (1991). Growth theory. In D. Greenaway, M. Bleaney, and I. Stewart (eds.) Companion to contemporary economic thought. Routledge, London.

Stern, N. (1991). The determinants of growth. Economic Journal, 101, 122-133.


Romer, Paul M. (1989). Capital accumulation in the theory of long-run growth. In Robert J. Barro (ed.) Modern business cycle theory. Basil Blackwell, Oxford.


Solow, R. M. (1988). Growth theory and after. American Economic Review, 78, 307-317.