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April 12, 2015

Week 11: Beyond Economics

This week saw the fourth and final lecture by senior World Bank officials at Georgetown this semester. Chief Economist Kaushik Basu pursued his earlier reflections on the intellectual challenges that lie ahead for development institutions and practitioners. He focused on forces for change outside purely economic factors, including "mindsets" and law and governance. The challenge we put to our bloggers was to reflect on the new elements that need to be taken into account when reflecting on non-economic dimensions of development thinking and practice.

  • Jemila Abdulai takes on the issue of creative leadership. Sparked by Kaushik Basu's reference to the perils and potential of "default options" she suggests that too much policy is shaped by what amount to less than bold and venturesome options. Her response is to value more and work to develop true "thought leaders."
  • Lauren Corke points to an often neglected group: disabled people. She argues that even with rapid economic growth they rarely benefit because of ingrained attitudes that result in exclusion. Beyond economic measures, special efforts are needed to change mindsets and offer tangible benefits.
  • Kailee Jordan and Noureen Ramzy focus on the perils of overly top-down approaches in development. They suggest that it is at the city level that new solutions can be found.
  • Felix Obi agrees with Kaushik Basu's argument that taking behavioral economics far more into account can improve the quality of development outcomes. He highlights the example of corruption and the need to understand the motivations of both bribe-giver and bribe-taker if the system is to change.