This week my graduate pro-seminar in Comparative Politics covers the political economy of development. We are reading a series of classics (see Week 8 on the syllabus [PDF]) and they are all essential, but in re-reading these all I have the distinct impression that this list is old-fashioned in one particular way. That is, the readings emphasize the macropolitical economy of development, when much of the new work being done these days is on the microempirics of the political economy of development.
I am left with a question. If you had to assign one and only one reading on the microempirics of the political economy of development, what would it be? I am looking for something like a “new classic”—Melissa Dell on the mita (PDF) is one example, but surely there are others. It is best if the reading is theoretically interesting as well as a well-crafted piece of empirical scholarship. I am looking for work that is more than just an exemplar of good empirical research, but rather work that is theoretically and conceptually generative as well. In fact, the ideal kind of work in this vein would connect the microempirics to the macropolitical economy of development.
Leave your suggestions in the comments. Any suggestions received before 1:45pm EDT will be relayed to the class this afternoon.