I would like to ask what kind of math is used in Development Economics?

I have one more semester in my Master of Math programme before hopefully entering a PhD in Economics and am considering specializing in this; so I would like to know what I should take or review next semester. Are the topics listed on the wiki-page for Mathematical Economics applicable? Being differential equations, linear algebra, optimization, and analysis. Or would statistics or data science be more applicable?

Thank you

  • $\begingroup$ Most research in development economics is empirical nowadays. Especially randomized control trials are very in, so I would look into that as well as into microeconometrics in general. I would definitely give statistics and econometrics (not necessarily time series or macroeconometrics) priority. However your math skills will come very much in handy in getting through the first year of a phd program, during which you won't have much time for research. $\endgroup$
    – BB King
    Commented Dec 7, 2015 at 18:40
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ There isn't any. None. $\endgroup$
    – Michael
    Commented Dec 9, 2015 at 2:41

1 Answer 1


This does depend on whether you're looking to do applied econometric work, in which case statistics is definitely the way to go or something theoretical, in which case a good understanding in the maths you listed will go a long way. Of course it's always better if you understand both - since you're doing a master's in math, you should already be quite fluent with the math required, so I'd go with econometrics.

There's a growing amount of literature available, but if you have time to spare, I'd give the topics in Nafziger's "Economic Development" a glance: http://tabesh.edu.af/Books/economic/Economic%20Development.pdf

  • $\begingroup$ I see thank you, and thank you very much for the pdf link too it looks like a superb introduction to this! :D $\endgroup$
    – Sunhwa
    Commented Dec 7, 2015 at 16:55
  • $\begingroup$ No problem. Hopefully it'll help you get started with some ideas for research. :) $\endgroup$
    – John L.
    Commented Dec 8, 2015 at 7:23

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