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Michael P. Todaro is an American economist and a pioneer in the field of transportation economics and Economic Development.

Michael P. Todaro was Professor of Economics at New York Universitymarker for eighteen years and Senior Associate at the Population Council for thirty years. He lived and taught in Africa for six years. He appears in Who's Who in Economics and Economists of the Twentieth Century. He is also the author of eight books and more than fifty professional articles.

Awards and Positions


Economic Development

Professor Todaro’s five years of living and teaching in Africa as well as two decades of extensive travel throughout Latin America and Asia, first as a director of the Rockefeller Foundation and then as a professor of economics at New York University. These experiences have helped shape and refine a book that is unique among development texts in approach, organization, and pedagogy. Among its most significant innovations are the following:

  • It teaches economic development within the context of a major set of problems, such as poverty, inequality, unemployment, population growth, environmental decay, and rural stagnation. Formal, abstract models and concepts are used to elucidate real-world development problems rather than being presented in isolation from case study illustrations.

  • It adopts a problem- and policy-oriented approach to the teaching of development economics on the assumption that a central objective of any development economics course should be the fostering of a student’s ability to understand contemporary economic problems of developing countries and to reach independent and informed judgments and policy conclusions about their possible resolution.

  • It approaches development problems systematically by following a standard pedagogic procedure with regard to their analysis and exposition. Each chapter begins by stating the general nature of a problem, its principal issues, and how it is manifested empirically in various developing countries. The chapter then presents main goals and possible objectives, the role of economic analysis in illuminating the problem, and some possible policy alternatives and their likely consequences. This approach not only helps students think systematically about major current development issues but, even more important, provides them with a methodology and an operating procedure for analyzing and reaching policy conclusions about other contemporary and future development problems.

  • It starts from the premise that it is possible to design and structure a broadly based development economics textbook that simultaneously uses the best available cross-sectional data from Africa, Asia, and Latin America and appropriate theoretical tools to illuminate common developing country problems. Although these problems will of course differ in both scope and magnitude when we deal with such diverse countries as India, Bangladesh, Kenya, Egypt, Nigeria, Brazil, Mexico, and Guatemala, the fact remains that most face similar development problems: widespread poverty and large income and asset inequalities, rapid population growth, low levels of literacy and health, high levels of urban unemployment and underemployment, and chronic balance of payments and foreign-debt burdens, to name just a few.

  • It focuses on a wide range of developing countries not only as independent nation-states but also in relation to one another and in their interactions with rich nations in a global economy.

  • It recognizes the necessity of treating the problems of development and underdevelopment from an institutional and structural (noneconomic) as well as an economic perspective, with appropriate modifications of received general economic principles, theories, and policies. It thus attempts to combine relevant theory with realistic institutional analyses.

  • It views development and underdevelopment in both domestic and international contexts, stressing the increasing interdependence of the world economy in areas such as food, energy, natural resources, technology, information, and financial flows.
  • It considers the many economic, social, and institutional problems of underdevelopment as closely interrelated and requiring simultaneous and coordinated approaches to their solution at both the national and international levels.

Transportation economics

Transport economics is a cross-disciplinary study linking civil engineering and economics. Transport economics differs from some other branches of economics in that the assumption of a spaceless, instantaneous economy does not hold. People and goods flow over networks at certain speeds. Demands peak. Advanced ticket purchase is often induced by lower fares. The networks themselves may or may not be competitive. A single trip (the final good from the point-of-view of the consumer) may require bundling the services provided by several firms, agencies and modes.


  • Internal Migration in Developing Countries: A Review of Theory, Evidence, Methodology and Research Priorities (International Labour Office, 1976)
  • Economics for a Developing World: An Introduction to Principles, Problems and Policies for Development (longman, 1977)
  • Economic Development in the Third World (longman, 1985)
  • Economic Development (with Stephen C. Smith). (Addison-Wesley, 10th ed. (2009}. Table of contents link from
  • Economics for a developing world : an introduction to principles, problems (longman, 1983)
  • City bias and rural neglect : the dilemma of urban development (Population Council, 1981)
  • The Struggle for Economic Development: Readings in Problems and Polices (longman, 1983)
  • Development planning: Models and Methods (longman, 1983)
  • Reflections on Economic Development: The Selected Essays of Michael P. Todaro (Edward Elgar, 1995)


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