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On Rethinking Development Economics (Draft)
Do we need to rethink ‘development economics’? An answer to that question must begin with a delineation of its subject matter, consisting of a specific set of stylised facts that are its starting point, leading to a set of assumptions and a mode of reasoning that help address and answer a range of questions.
In my view development economics starts from the fact that integration through the market does not ensure that the developed countries provide the developing an image of their own future. The transformation wrought through such integration, while triggering some capitalist development in the less developed world, also generated structures that rendered the process gradual, incomplete and adverse for growth and welfare.
Development economics was concerned with understanding the specific structures, global and national, generated by the process of integration of economies with varying initial conditions into the world capitalist system, with analysing the mechanisms by which those structures constrained the process of development and with deriving from that analysis the policy options available to redress the adverse consequences of integration. In this sense it shared with the Keynesian tradition the project of making the abstract world constructed for economic analysis correspond more closely with the world as it exists, and of making the aim of economic analysis the generation of appropriate policies.
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