AudienceTOE

Last Monday we had the pleasure of hosting a few of our closest friends at Cooper Union’s Great Hall to celebrate the launch of Professor Easterly’s new book, The Tyranny of Experts: Economists, Dictators, and the Forgotten Rights of the Poor. Paul Romer gave a gracious introduction, and many audience members had the chance to question Bill’s audacious theories in a Q&A at the end of the lecture. Below are just a few selected clips from the evening (Paul’s introduction, Bill on his membership in Authoritarians Anonymous, and his answer to the perennial favorite question: “But What Can I Do?”). To hear more, take a look at the author’s speaking schedule for the next few months which will take him to Boston, DC, the West Coast and London, and of course, read the book.

 

Tyranny of Experts Book Launch from NYU Devt Research Institute on Vimeo.

Photo courtesy of Jessica Kane. See more photographs from the launch here.

Is the emphasis on nations as actors in development excessive and obsolete?

Come to DRI’s Annual Conference on Friday November 15th! Studies to be presented will show how development spreads with the spread of people, goods, technologies, and ideas across national boundaries. Other talks feature evidence showing a much smaller than expected role for nations and national leaders in explaining development outcomes. It is time for fresh thinking on how development spreads so that it can spread even more.

REGISTER HERE

William EasterlyWhy are we So Obsessed with Nations in Economic Development?
Most development differences are explained by differences between regions (e.g. Europe vs. Africa, East Asia vs. Latin America) rather than differences between nations. Yet both right and left exaggerate the role of national policy actions in development. Migration of peoples like the emigrants from Fujian Province, China to the rest of East Asia helps explain the success of intra-regional trade, investment, and development in East Asia. The decentralized spread of technologies like mobile phones and even cars has contributed far more to development than national efforts to sponsor politically-fashionable technologies like broadband.

Ross LevineThe Spread of Development through Colonial European Settlement
As much as 40 percent of the development that has ever happened outside of Europe is associated with migration and settlement of Europeans during the colonial period in places around the world. What did the settlers bring with them to make this happen?

Emmanuel Akyeampong and Yaw Nyarko: How Indigenous Entrepreneurs Brought Cocoa and Transformed Ghana
The spread of development to Ghana was tied to the spread of cocoa. The first cocoa beans were brought into Ghana by a local farmer from Equatorial Guinea around 1878, and within 20 years Ghana was the world’s largest producer. Cocoa has thrived ever since except when punitively taxed. The colonial and post-colonial governments have been less successful actors than indigenous entrepreneurs. For example, in an effort to promote other commodities, the independence-era governments built storage silos all over the country; the silos were successful only as nesting grounds for indigenous snakes.

Jonathan MorduchKeynote Speech: How Microcredit Went Global
One of the most celebrated innovations in development and aid did not happen at the national level. The creation of a global microcredit movement was achieved through transnational networks dedicated to codifying best practices, reforming financial regulations, and building investment funds. The story helps understand the often counter-intuitive role of global public goods in promoting development.

Steven Pennings: Do National Leaders Matter?
This paper challenges the conventional wisdom that national leaders like Lee Kuan Yew in Singapore and Park Chung Hee in South Korea deserve credit for the growth miracles that happened on their watch. The evidence speaks surprisingly and strongly: the data are inconsistent with the attribution of growth miracles or disasters to national leaders.

CollagePhoto credits: Gopal Vijayaraghavan, woodleywonderworks, Nestlé, graphi-ogre, IITA Image Library

Conference funding is generously provided by a grant from the John Templeton Foundation.

 

This is NOT the Nobel Symposium panel with Jeff Sachs and others, for which the video isn’t available yet. It IS a 3-minute clip of a talk Bill gave at the Swedish think tank Timbro while he was in Stockholm.

On Tuesday, February 28th, Abhijit Banerjee, MIT Professor of Economics, will discuss how he is rethinking the fight against poverty in his lecture Why aren’t children learning? (and what we can do about it).  The lecture, part of the Albert Gallatin Lecture series, will take place at 6:30pm at the Labowitz Theatre for the Performing Arts at 1 Washington Place in New York City.

Banerjee is the author, with Esther Duflo, of the recent must-read development book, Poor Economics, which describes his and his colleagues’ work evaluating development interventions through randomized experiments at the MIT Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL).

Download the event poster here; to attend the event register with Gallatin.

David Rice, DRI’s Executive Director, will be speaking at Wesleyan University’s Forum for International Development this Saturday February 18th. David will give the keynote address “Is it Better to Give or Receive? Rethinking International Development,” as well as a lecture on “Innovating Capital Flows to Small Enterprises.” Nathaneal Goldberg, Policy Director at Innovations for Poverty Action, will discuss “How Do We Know What Works in Development?” Other discussion topics include different approaches to development, Wesleyan non-profits, identifying and scaling up effective interventions, and getting involved in development.

Click here for the full program.