Innis Lecture: Rethinking Economic Development


Nunn N. Innis Lecture: Rethinking Economic Development. Canadian Journal of Economics. 2019; 52 (4) : 1349-1373.
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I provide a summary, reflection, and assessment of the current state of economic development in both the policy and academic worlds. In terms of development policy, currently, the primary focus is on policy interventions, namely, foreign aid, aimed at fixing the `deficiencies' of developing countries. Academic research also has a similar focus, except with an emphasis in rigorous evaluation of interventions to estimate causal effects. A standard set of versatile quantitative tools is used, e.g., experimental and quasi-experimental methods, which can be easily applied in a range of settings to estimate the causal effects of policies, which are typically presumed to be similar across contexts. In this article, I take a step back and ask whether the current practices are the best that we can do. Are foreign aid and policy interventions the best options we have for poverty alleviation? What else can be done? Is our current research strategy, characterized by rigorous but a lack of context-specific analysis,  the best method of analysis? Is there a role for other research methods, for a deeper understanding of the local context, and for more collaboration with local scholars?

Last updated on 01/17/2021