Department of Economics and Finance Seminar Series

Is economic development easier now than 50 years ago?


Anne Krueger


Time & Place

Wed, 18 Jul 2018 17:30:00 NZST in E6, Engineering Core, University of Canterbury, Ilam Campus


Many policy makers and academics claim that changes in the global economy make the obstacles to rapid growth of poor countries even more challenging than it was a half century ago. They cite technological change, with emphasis on automation and IT replacements of both unskilled and middle income jobs, and on the emergence of China as a formidable competitor as major reasons.
In this lecture, Krueger argues that while the future is never entirely foreseeable, there are a number of considerations that point to greater ease of development now than in the past. These include: the diminishing rate of increase in populations in most low income countries; the fact that much more is understood now (albeit still imperfectly) about development (and especially how not to achieve it); that global markets are much larger; and obtaining information of all kinds is much easier.
There are also some technological advances that make development easier: mobile phones; continuing discoveries of improved technology in agriculture; advances in materials sciences; and so on.
This does not mean that development is easy. Mistakes can still be made.  There is no avoiding the need to improve health and education and bring rural residents into more productive jobs outside farming. Competitive conditions in the world economy make the adoption of an appropriate set of economic policies even more critical than it was in earlier years. Temptations to resort to excessively expansionary fiscal and monetary policies are still attractive to politicians. 
Nonetheless, as the lessons from past experience are learned, those policy makers sufficiently committed to sustainable and rapid growth will be able to achieve results on a par, or better than, those that took place in the past.


Anne O. Krueger is Senior Research Professor of International Economics at the School for Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University and a Senior Fellow at the Stanford Center for International Development. She is the Herald L. and Caroline Ritch Professor Emeritus of Sciences and Humanities in the Economics Department at Stanford. She was First Deputy Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund from 2001 to 2006. Prior to Stanford, she had been University Professor of Economics at Duke University, Vice President for Economics and Research at the World Bank, and Professor of Economics at the University of Minnesota. She is Distinguished Fellow and Past President of the American Economic Association and a member of the National Academy of Sciences. She has published extensively on international trade and finance, economic policy reform, and economic development.