Jean-Jacques Dethier on a brief history of development

July 2, 2015 | 13:30 h - 14:30 h

Public lecture with Dr. Jean-Jacques Dethier, Former Research Manager, Development Economics Vice Presidency, the World Bank, and Georgetown University, Washington, D.C. Adjunct Professor.

on “A Brief History of Development, Development Thinking and Foreign Assistance to Development”

The session was chaired by Prof. Joachim von Braun, Director of ZEF.

J.J. Dethier presents a historical overview of development in developing countries, of the aid received by these countries and of the dominant thinking that guided policymakers. Since the end of World War II, agrarian societies were transformed into industrialized and urbanized societies. Most of these countries adopted import-substituting industrialization policies. Overall, results fell far short of national economic aspirations. External debt problems became serious in the late 1970s, and aid and capital transfers from rich to poor countries, assorted with conditionality, prevented the collapse of living standards in the 1980s. Since the 1990s, developing countries, buffeted by several economic and financial crises, had to adapt to globalization. Between 1945 and 1979, economic wellbeing and social progress were slow except in a few countries. By contrast, in the post-adjustment period, poverty declined from 52% of the developing world population in 1980 to 17% in 2011, thanks largely to China, but with considerable unevenness of progress. On balance, in the post-war era, even though the world has experienced widespread poverty and tragic displacements forced upon people by globalization, better welfare outcomes and more stability and peace have been produced during periods of globalization than during inward-turning period.

Dr. Jean-Jacques Dethier has worked at the World Bank since 1985, both in Operations and in Research. He is an Adjunct Professor at Georgetown University where he teaches a graduate course on development. He serves as a Senior Fellow at the University of Bonn, Germany, where he spent a year (1998-99) at the Centre for Development Research (ZEF). Prior to the World Bank, he worked for ILO and was a consultant for USAID, FAO, IFAD and private consulting firms. He is a Belgian citizen and has lived for extended periods in Belgium, Germany, the UK, Peru, Egypt and the USA.


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