In Pursuit of a New Paradigm (Presidential Address)

Syed Nawab Haider Naqvi


After 40 years of its birth, development economics has come to
be widely accepted - without universal acclaim. In sharp contrast to
some pessimistic evaluations of the subject, the academic community has
granted it the right to a separate existence. But the recognition has
not come easy. From the first full-length evaluation of the discipline
by Chenery (1965), in which he looks at it as a variation on the
classical theme of comparative advantage, to Stem's (1989) sympathetic
review of the contributions that the discipline has made to the state of
economic knowledge, development economics has experienced many a
vicissitude - both the laurels of glory and the "arrows of outrageous
fortune". But, finally, it has become an industry in its own right, of
which not only social profitability but also 'private' profitability
appears to be strictly positive: the publishing industry continues to
patronize it and publish full-length books on the subject. Four decades
of development experience, the production of massive cross-country and
time-series data about a large number of development variables, the
construction of large macro-economic models and fast-running computers,
and the application of mathematical methods, have all combined to lay
the foundations of a theoretically rigorous and policy-relevant
development paradigm, which is gradually replacing the old one. All this
is good news for development economists, who can now afford not only
bread but also some butter for their daily parsnips .

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