Development history

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Development history

Department of Economic History, London School of Economics and Political Science
  • Hc Economic History And Conditions
  • D204 Modern History


WP5400.PDF Working Paper No. 54/00 Development History Nicholas F R Crafts © Nicholas F. R. Crafts Department of Economic History London School of Economics 2000 1 1. Introduction This paper discusses some aspects of the changing relationship between the study of economic history and development economics. Forty years ago the subjects seemed to be quite closely linked in the sense that senior figures straddled both areas, the development history of the advanced countries was frequently studied with a view to deriving lessons for development policy and economic historians made big generalizations as to what these were. In the 1990s, things appear to have been very different. There is much less overlap between the fields of development and history, historians have largely retreated from the brash claims of the early postwar generation and less- developed countries have their own well-documented recent history from which to draw lessons. This state of affairs is clearly reflected in the most recent edition of Meier (1995) where the historical perspective on development is still derived largely from Gerschenkron and Rostow. This suggests the following questions that the paper addresses: 1) Did anything of lasting value come from the generalizations of the early postwar pioneers ? 2) Have more recent practitioners of economic history any big messages for development economics ? 3) Has development economics much to gain from resuming a closer relationship with economic history ? The paper is organized as follows. Section 2 explores what remains of some of the outstanding claims made in the 1950s through the early 1960s and draws some contrasts with the New Economic History of the later 1960s and 1970s. Section 3 returns to the economic history of the first industrial nation to underline some of the reasons why this o

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