Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Of sex and drugs and rock'n roll... and economic models

I guess, as the title of this post implies, that this is my Sex Pistols week (see the conclusion of my previous post).  Economics, and development economics in particular, is not exactly the kind of discipline that is, to the best of my limited knowledge, associated with rock music, and by "rock" I mean truly classic rock (I'm showing my age here).  All of this has to change. 

We need to make development economics fun.  We need to make development economics hip (I think it already is, but I am probably in a minority of one).  We need to make development economics rock

Here are a few suggestions in terms of some economic model-song pairings:
  • George Akerlof's "Market for Lemons" (1970) model: "The lemon song," by Led Zeppelin.
  • Rosenstein-Rodan's (1943) model of the Big Push: "When push comes to shove," by the Grateful Dead.
  • Grossman and Helpman's "Quality ladders in the Theory of Growth" (1991) paper:  "Stairway to heaven," by Led Zeppelin.
  • The Harris-Todaro model of migration (1969, 1970):  "Should I stay or should I go," by the Clash.
  • Robert E. Lucas's (1988) model of the mechanics of economic development: "Ted the mechanic," by Deep Purple. "Bob the mechanic" would have been ideal... can anyone mention this to Ian Paice?
  • The Logic of Collective Action (1965) by Mancur Olson: "The logical song," by Supertramp (saccharin, but classic nevertheless).
  • Robert Barro's (1974) "Are Government Bonds Net Wealth?" paper: "Taxman," by the Beatles.
  • The Paul Romer paper that started everything in terms of endogenous growth models was "Crazy Explanations for the Productivity Slowdown" (1987).  How about "Let's go crazy," by Prince (yeah, yeah, I know it's funky, but give me a break).
  • The Ted Miguel et al (2004) JPE paper that uses rainfall shocks to identify the impact of GDP growth on the likelihood of the outbreak of civil war: "The rain song," by Led Zeppelin (an alternative pairing would be "Fool in the rain," also by Led Zeppelin).
Any other suggestions out there? ("Ozone baby" by Led Zep could be paired up with the Stern Report, but the latter is hardly a "classic" economics piece.)  Just one rule: the economic model as well as the associated rock song both have to be classic.  Sort of...


  1. Like Father, like Son; Like Mother, like Daughter: Parental Resources and Child
    Height. Thomas, D. (1994)

    "Like Father Like Son" Lionel Cartwright

  2. The whole Rhythm and Blues movement is about intrahousehold bargaining power, isn't it? The perfect example is the classic blues from B.B. King: "Paying The Cost To Be The Boss".
    The lyrics "As long as I'm paying the bills, I'm paying the cost to be the boss!" could have been the introducing line many classic paper of the intrahousehold literature (say "Marriage and Household Decision-Making: A Bargaining Analysis" by Manser and Brown (1980)).

    You can also find good stuff like this in rock classics. In "Every Picture Tells A Story", Rod Stewart get an important advice from his father: "Remember one thing : don't lose your head to a woman that will spend your bread!"

  3. Spence's (QJE, 1973) and Rush's entire "Signals" album...

    Oh, and welcome to the blogosphere! More formal welcome to follow next week as I recover from Thanksgiving and resume posting on my own blog...

  4. Abhijit Banarjee's QJEI paper "A simple model of herd behavior" (1992) reminds me of "All the rollin hills, I'll flatten 'em out yeah. Its a herd behavior uh huh" (Pearl Jam).

    Unsure if the former can be called a classic, latter most certainly.

  5. Foster & Rosenzweig's "Missing Women, the Marriage Market and Economic Growth" (2001) with the famous and superb pink floyd's "wish you were here" :)