The Political Economy of Development Economics: A Historical Perspective

The Political Economy of Development Economics: A Historical Perspective. 2018. Edited by Michele Alacevich and Mauro Boianovsky. Supplement to volume 50 of HOPE. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

"Writing the History of Development Economics," by Michele Alacevich and Mauro Boianovsky (pp. 1–14). The history of development economics has shifted its focus from a history of theories to a history of institutions, at times returning to the question of what development economics is and what status it has in economics as a whole.

Keynote Address to the 2017 HOPE Conference: "Changing Approaches to Development since 1950: Drawing on Polanyi," by Frances Stewart (pp. 17–38). Karl Polanyi's approach in The Great Transformation contains fundamental insights of relevance to changing development thought, especially when enriched by considerations such as the changing global environment and the influence of changing advanced country ideas on the developing country trajectory.

The Prehistory of Development Economics

"Yankee Ingenuity in Theories of American Economic Development, from the Founding to the Closing of the Frontier," by Stephen Meardon (pp. 41–58). The long-standing notion of a "native" American knack for technological invention and adaptation entered into some of the more remarkable contributions to US economic development thinking from the founding to the end of the nineteenth century.

"Aspects of Indian Economic Thought and the Birth and Poverty of Development Economics," by Amitava Krishna Dutt (pp. 59–75). The history of development economics becomes much richer when the subfield is seen as emerging not in the postwar period but much earlier, making room for the contributions of non-Western economists.

"Sun Yat-sen as a Pioneer of International Development," by Eric Helleiner (pp. 76–93). Sun's distinctive contribution emerged from his ambitious and modern ideas about development, his conviction that China's economic development required foreign help, and his optimism about the prospects for international cooperation after World War I.

The Rise of Development Economics

"The Colonial Office and British Development Economics, 1940–60," by Keith Tribe (pp. 97–113). For most of its existence, the Colonial Office paid little attention to the economic development of Britain's imperial possessions, and by the time it began to in the 1940s, those possessions were already on a path to independence.

"The Birth of Development Economics: Theories and Institutions," by Michele Alacevich (pp. 114–32). To understand the emergence of a development discourse after World War II, one needs to consider not only the position of the United States but the changing hegemonic role of Great Britain in relation to its recently liberated colonies and its delusional plans to develop a hegemonic role in central and eastern Europe.

"Modernization Theory Never Dies," by Nils Gilman (pp. 133–51). Rostow's achievement was to advance a metahistorical narrative that was easy for the masses to understand and satisfying to elites as an affirmation of the inevitability and moral righteousness of their own role in economic and national development.

"CEPAL, Economic Development, and Inequality," by Joseph L. Love (pp. 152–71). Between 1949 and the present, CEPAL went from emphasizing industrialization led by national states to stressing greater income equality among the citizens of those states.

"When History of Ideas Meets Theory: Arthur Lewis and the Classical Economists on Development," by Mauro Boianovsky (pp. 172–90). Lewis adopted and adapted classical concepts when devleoping his model of economic development in a dual economy, claiming that the classical framework provided analytic foundations to interpret the dynamics of underdeveloped economies with excess labor and insufficient capital.

The Role of Economic Experts

"Measuring Development—from the UN's Perspective," by Mary S. Morgan and Maria Bach (pp. 193–210). Numbers really matter and have agency inside and outside the institution: the data establish the work program, provide the means to measure progress and compare countries, and provide a public instrument of persuasion.

"Quantifying Economic Development: Kuznets, Chenery, and the Quantitative Approach to Development Economics," by Moshe Syrquin (pp. 211–30). By the late 1960s, the study of aggregate growth and structural transformation was dominated by Kuznets and Chenery.

"Models, Measurement, and 'Universal Patterns': Jan Tinbergen and Development Planning without Theory," by Marcel Boumans and Neil De Marchi (pp. 231–48). Given the lack of complete theory and data, Tinbergen developed a pragmatic approach, proposing a modeling strategy with the aim of designing models that should work under idiosyncratic conditions.

"E. F. Schumacher and Intermediate Technology," by Robert Leonard (pp. 249–65). As Schumacher became increasingly "antimodern," he began to give explicit consideration to levels of technology, out of which emerged his intermediate technology idea and the formation of the Intermediate Technology Development Group.

Development Economics in Turbulent Times: Crisis, Reassessment, and New Perspectives

"The Counterrevolution in Development Economics," by John Toye (pp. 269–85). Around 1980, it was no longer believed that the analysis of poor countries required its own branch of economics, a development that in turn allowed neoclassical economics to occupy the intellectual territory thus vacated, while in 1986 a switch in the GATT's ground rules gave a strong incentive to reform existing trade regimes in developing countries.

"From Anxiety to Nonchalance: 'Neoclassical Economic Development' from 1950 to 2000," by Salim Rashid (pp. 286–302). The belief of neoclassical economic development that human motivation can be guided only by appropriate prices does violence to the complexity of development itself.

"The Making of Behavioral Development Economics," by Allison Demeritt and Karla Hoff (pp. 303–22). Behavioral development economics is an emerging subfield, and many of its insights can be traced back to figures such as Adam Smith, Mill, and Pareto.