This article situates the 2019 Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel in the history of thought on development, tracing how the focus, theory and methods have shifted in the field. The article evaluates theoretical and methodological critiques of the way randomized control trials (RCTs) are employed by the laureates, as well as attempts to overcome these challenges. In terms of theory, the article demonstrates what gets lost when experiments are guided by methodological individualism and assumptions of individual utility-maximizing behavior. In terms of methodology, the article unpacks the limits of RCTs related to their causal model, and their lack of attention to human agency and wider socio-economic context. Finally, the article discusses the experimental approach’s relevance for research and policy-making and cautions against any approach becoming a “gold standard,” due to the importance of pluralism for maintaining an open debate about development.
This week I had the pleasure of appearing on Doug Henwood’s political economy radio show, the LBO news. He picked my brain about the recent developments in the field of development economics and the work of Banerjee, Duflo and Kremer, in particular. This is a one-hour episode, with René Rojas being interviewed by the political demonstrations in Chile in the first half, and me being interviewed in the second half. You can download the podcast here or listen to it by pressing the play button below.
In this article in The Mint, I explore the relevance of dependency theory/ies today, along with Farwa Sial and Carolina Alves. We also identify some common critiques of dependency theory and argue that these are rooted in misunderstandings about the theories.
On February 9th 2019, I presented on a panel with Desmond McNeill (Centre for Development and Environment, University of Oslo) and Morten Jerven (Norwegian University of Life Sciences). I presented specifically on the politics of GDP measurement (based on this recent working paper I co-authored with Jacob Assa). The panel was a part of the Rethinking Sustainability conference organized by Rethinking Economics, Norway. My slides can be found here. [Note: the video is in Norwegian]