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19 March 2018
Pablo’s provocative new book Why We Lie About Aid, is described by ODI Principal Research Fellow David Booth as ‘one of the most exciting books about development aid in many years’. Here Pablo talks about why he wrote the book and what he wants to achieve with it.
Why We Lie About Aid is a book born out of bafflement, and not a little bit of frustration.
For a long time now I have been baffled about the apparent disconnect between how we – the public in donor countries – talk about aid as if it was solely about charity and poverty. I have seen friends, family and colleagues exposed time and again to donation drives, famine celebrities, and NGOs whose messaging centred on destitution. Or, alternatively, they have been told that aid is a waste of money, a useless or even corrupt tool for fattening experts and dictators. Both narratives stand in marked contrast to my research and consulting work, where I have encountered policymakers, public servants, civil society advocates and development practitioners tirelessly working to set up and improve the institutions that can guarantee more effective states, fairer markets and freer societies. I can only understand development – and, by extension, development assistance – as a political task. And yet that view has been all but absent from public debate, even among those most in favour of international solidarity. Continue Reading →
8 February 2018
Sheffield Political Economy Research Institute (SPERI) are pleased to announce a new SPERI paper edited by Matt Bishop and Tony Payne on ‘Revisiting the developmental state’. Originally published as a blog series late last year, the paper brings together a number of eminent experts on the subject: Kunal Sen (ESID’s Joint Research Director), Shaun Breslin, Ziya Öniş, Valbona Muzaka, David Booth, Courtney Lindsay and Henry Wai-chung Yeung.
The notion of a ‘developmental state’ is a key concept in the political economy of development. It refers, broadly speaking, to a type of state which intervenes purposefully to distort markets in the pursuit of economic upgrading and productive transformation.
This is not anti-capitalist, but neither is it about free markets. It is rather about shaping markets to achieve developmental ends, something that typified the experience of the so-called ‘Asian Tigers’ in the 1970s. The simultaneous failure of neoliberal free market fundamentalism to deliver rising living standards in the West and the contrasting success of high levels of intervention in China, especially, have reignited interest in the concept.
Yet a range of unanswered questions persist, and the authors whose work is showcased in the new SPERI paper offer pithy, incisive accounts of key points of controversy and debate. These include:
Matt Bishop is Senior Lecturer in International Politics at the University of Sheffield and Tony Payne is
Professorial Fellow at SPERI. Together they co-lead SPERI’s research programme on ‘Development and the Governance of a Globalising Political Economy’.
Kunal Sen, @kunalsen5 – Joint Research Director, Effective States and Inclusive Development (ESID) Research Centre, University of Manchester
Rachel Glennerster @rglenner – Chief Economist, Department for International Development (DFID)
Yuen Yuen Ang, @yuenyuenang – Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science, University of Michigan
Dirk Willem te Velde, @DWteVelde – Principal Research Fellow, ODI
Why do some countries enjoy steady and sustained growth, others, periods of boom and bust, while others hardly experience growth at all? The answer to this question affects the rise and fall of nations and the life chances of billions of people – yet until recently economists have failed to answer it.
This event brings together ground-breaking researchers providing new approaches to this important conundrum. Among them are Kunal Sen and Yuen Yuen Ang, whose recent work offers radical explanations for how some states have achieved transformative growth, as well as innovative ideas for how others might emulate them.
Building on a combination of their findings plus landmark research from other distinguished economists, the event will kick-start a discussion on the politics of growth. In so doing, it seeks to provide actionable levers and policy recommendations for countries seeking to grow, transform and escape the poverty trap.
Tim Kelsall is a Research Fellow at the Overseas Development Institute in London, who specialises in political economy analysis and political anthropology, and has interests in governance, democracy, transitional justice, economic growth, education and health. He has worked in several developing countries, including Tanzania, Sierra Leone and Cambodia. He recently co-authored a chapter with Seiha Heng on unbalanced growth and hybrid political settlements in Cambodia in Deals and Development: The Political Dynamics of Growth Episodes. He holds a BA from the University of Oxford and an MA and PhD from the School of Oriental and African Studies.
Kunal Sen is Professor of Development Economics and Policy and Joint Research Director, Effective States and Inclusive Development (ESID) Research Centre at The University of Manchester. Prior to joining The University of Manchester, he was a member of faculty in the University of East Anglia in the UK, Massey University in New Zealand, the Australian National University, and the Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research in India. Kunal’s principal areas of research are economic growth, macroeconomics, international trade, and the analysis of poverty and social exclusion. In November 2017 he published Deals and Development: The Political Dynamics of Growth Episodes. Co-edited by Lant Pritchett and Eric Werker, this book provides a novel framework for understanding how growth episodes emerge and when growth is maintained for a sustained period.
Rachel Glennerster is the Chief Economist of the UK’s Department for International Development – a position she has held since January 2018. She was previously the Executive Director of the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Her research includes randomised evaluations of education, health, microfinance, community driven development, agriculture, women’s empowerment and governance in Sierra Leone, Bangladesh, Pakistan and India. She helped establish Deworm the World, which now deworms over 150 million children a year and is co-author of Strong Medicine: Creating Incentives for Pharmaceutical Research on Neglected Diseases (Princeton University Press, 2004), and Running Randomized Evaluations: A Practical Guide (Princeton University Press, 2013). She holds a PhD in economics from Birkbeck College, University of London.
Yuen Yuen Ang is an Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Michigan. Her research and teaching lie at the intersection of global development, China’s political economy, and adaptive processes of change. Her book, How China Escaped the Poverty Trap (Cornell University Press, Series in Political Economy, 2016) lays the foundation for her research agenda. Winner of the 2017 Peter Katzenstein Book Prize, it was described by the prize committee as “a field-shifting move to non-linear complex processes”. Elsewhere, Foreign Affairs named it among the “Best of Books 2017”. Prior to joining Michigan, Yuen Yuen was on the faculty of Columbia University SIPA, teaching political and economic development. She received her PhD from Stanford University.
Dirk Willem te Velde is a Principal Research Fellow and head of the International Economic Development Group. He is the director of Supporting Economic Transformation and a Research Leader for the DFID-ESRC Growth Research Programme. He has published widely on trade, investment and economic transformation. He has advised country governments and parliaments in Africa, Asia and the Caribbean, and donor agencies such as DFID, European Commission, UN and the World Bank. He was also Team Leader for the European Report on Development (ERD) 2015 on Combining Finance and Policies to Implement a Transformative Post-2015 Agenda.
20 December 2017
What made you want to work in development research?
During my graduate research, ‘development studies’ held a certain idealistic allure, of being a part of efforts to tackle the world’s major developmental challenges, such as poverty, hunger, literacy and governance. But, I eventually found myself in the research end of development work – versus the more active/on-the-ground/advocacy end. Sixteen years later, I have come to appreciate how complex and valuable researching developmental problems can be for sincere efforts aimed at solving them on the ground.
What’s the current focus of your research?
My research and teaching focuses on the institutional design and internal processes of the public sector, or public administration. I am particularly interested in investigating how the public sector can play a developmental role, and have had the privilege of researching this across various policy areas. Often the most interesting aspect of doing this research is identifying those obstacles that mitigate against the efforts of public sector institutions to make positive developmental impacts. Continue Reading →
12 December 2017
Watch Tom Lavers on the social protection findings he is presenting.