The Future of Development Economics

A stimulating symposium has concluded in Berlin, organised by the very able Svenja Flechtner (European University Flensburg), Jakob Hafele (University of Vienna), Martina Metzger (Institute for International Political Economy at the Berlin School of Economics and Law), Theresa Neef (Freie Universität Berlin).

The EAEPE "Developing Economics" symposium looked closely at the future of "Development Economics" which many critics and sympathisers alike agree requires substantial overhaul. Several themes deserve attention: narrow methods, pretentions of predictive science, lack of attention to phenomena and problem-solving.and a surprising and persistent dodging by economists of fundamental advances in their discipline in technological change.

On technological change, well, we have a commitment to this at TCLab especially because these provide the phenomena to assess the epistemological assumptions of the discipline, data and methods and their implications. It's perhaps no accident that technological change scholars tend to be foused on a range of methods, study industry phenomena to keep them honest, and engage in different ways with narrower and wider, more pluralist, and historical traditions.

In a keynote address, Smita Srinivas spoke about the Economics of Innovation and the opportunities it provides for moving devlopment economics forward, i.e. the economics of studying development processes at different scales, with close attention to the dynamics of technological change. The particular emphasis of the talk was on connecting cognitive and structural views with institutional approaches. 

Erik Reinert gave a keynote address on Stages of Development approaches, while Sanjaya Reddy addressed the audience on inequality indicators.

And finally, technological change at least in popular debate seems to point toward a determinist viewpoint on labour substitution, robots, layoffs and more. But the importance of a revitalised development economics is to draw on huge advances in evolutionary economics, institutional perspectives, and wider political economy. Are we sure we know what's happening around us? The Christian Science Monitor raises some questions.


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The Indian Institute of Science's 12th Dec panel, "Science Technology Innovation impact on Socio-economic Development" has Prof. Pranav Desai, Prof. Smita Srinivas, Prof. Sundar Sarukkai, Dr. Gayathri Sabharwal, and Dr. Satya Prakash Dash. The workshop runs from the 11th to the 13th December 2017.

"For most, the match ends when the Sun goes down, but in the Morro da Mineira favela, in Rio de Janeiro, play can continue long into the night, thanks to lights powered by the players themselves.

The six LED floodlights surrounding the field are powered by 200 kinetic tiles buried under the Astroturf, which capture the energy generated by the players' footsteps.

As players put weight on the tiles beneath the pitch, it causes electric-magnetic induction generators to kick in and generate electricity."

Image copyright PaveGen




The Economic Times reporting on an industry analysis study, estimates that Making locally in the mobile handset industry might be almost entirely domestic by 2020. Whether or not this is a good thing deserves debate, at a time when various studies point to an ecological nightmare in tech-intensive cities and countries, India high among them. These cities are drowning in waste, and toxic electronic waste at that (see The Guardian report ).

But health technologies have indeed transformed the industry, allowed several developing countries immense gains in healthcare, and for most industrilizing economies, opportunity for patients and welfre states to buy into wider technology options.

See TCLab-related research on the health industry, where industrial policy plays a critical role in how cheap or expensive healthcare is. Read the award-winning book Market Menagerie by Smita Srinivas.