Abstract

Professor Robert Wade, Professor of Political Economy and Development at the London School of Economics, delivered the keynote address for the 11th Annual Conference on the Management of the Pakistan Economy. This is a talk about the dramatic change in the understanding of what constitutes “development” that occurred in the West and in much of the developing world after the mid 1980s. Before that time it was widely understood that development meant rising overall “prosperity” and that heavy investment in infrastructure and in industry were key drivers. After the mid 1980s the content of development came to be “extreme poverty reduction”, “humanitarian assistance”, “primary school education”, “primary health care”, “anti-corruption”. Why this change? I argue that it was due to several factors: (1) the end of the Cold War, and the resulting change in the geopolitical strategy of Western states led by the US; (2) the increasing strength of “post-materialist” values in developed countries and their translation into the content of Western development thinking (eg World Bank, USAID, DfID); (3) business interests in the West; and (4) continued Western control of inter-state organizations that are meant to be organizations for the world (eg World Bank). There are now small signs of change in favor of investment in production and infrastructure, thanks partly to the recent emergence of inter-state “by- pass” organizations not controlled by Western states (such as the New Development Bank, the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank).