The Road to Development: Culture, Society, and Economic Growth. (Editor's Note)

Harvard International Review, Spring 2003 | Go to article overview
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The Road to Development: Culture, Society, and Economic Growth. (Editor's Note)


In a world where millions of people live below the international poverty line, the debate over international economic development has profound and immediate significance. In recent years, optimism over neoliberal development programs has heralded economic development as the way to promote democratization and human rights as well as to combat the global problems of poverty and disease. But the virulent debate over the nature of development policies belies this seemingly optimistic consensus.

UN Deputy Secretary-General Louise Frechette opens the symposium by discussing the major disputes in development practice and outlining the role the United Nations should play in solving the problems associated with modernization. Continuing the theme of international cooperation, New York University Professor Adam Przeworski reviews the history of development theory, warning of the dangers of adopting simplistic "blueprints" for economic progress.

Having learned from the failed development blueprints of the past, David Dollar, Research Manager at the World Bank, argues that development policies must account for the unique circumstances of each state and provide diverse options for governments to address the root causes of underdevelopment. Dollar's view is in part a response to criticisms like those of Columbia University Professor Joseph Stiglitz, who argues that recent international economic instability has resulted from the counterproductive strategies adopted by global financial institutions including the International Monetary Fund and World Bank.

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