On role of growth in development... :: 2008. 2. 15. 00:56

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An ODI and APGOOD series

Pushing growth up the development agenda

The role of growth in development

Wednesday 13 February, 1.00-2.15PM
ODI, 111 Westminster Bridge Road, London SE1 7JD

Professor Danny Quah, Professor of Economics and Head, Economics Department, London School of Economics (LSE)

Lord Adair Turner, Chair, ODI

Simon Maxwell
, Director, ODI

The second meeting in the series will examine the role of growth in development, how thinking on this has changed over time, and where we are now conceptually. It will seek to answer questions such as: how should growth be promoted? How should growth reforms be prioritised? And what role is there for the political economy of growth? Professor Danny Quah, Head of Economics at the LSE will present his analysis in answer to these questions and Lord Adair Turner, Chair of ODI will offer his perspective.

Reserved my places for this series at ODI a few weeks ago, and I was anticipating something fresh and new. 'Growth without development' has been a phrase that has long been cycling around my head, along with the its relationship with political regime. I was hoping some of these questions may be answered or be brought to the table, but the session was way too banal in general. Some countries grow and some don't due to the following reasons that they've cited:  growth accounting, geography, cluster effects, culture, and sequence of growth. This was all too just boring, repetition of textbooks. And the message in Dr Quah's 20 minute talk was... basically, growth is good, so just go for it.

Economists, economists, economists. 

I do have much respect for economists, and I do believe economics do play a significant role in cementing everything 'international' possible, whether it be relations, environment, social policy, or etc. (and I might/most likely will have to take maco/micro econ in my last semester to go to grad school) But sometimes I feel very frustrated when some economists are so...classicial in their approaches. Traditional economic theory alone cannot explain developments in developing countries, and that's why you have to take into account other factors-be it social or political. What frustrated me yesterday was that after the talks, so many people, including myself, have raised so many questions regarding inequality, growth in Africa, infrastructure, nurturing human capital, role of the state, etc etc...but I felt that none of these were answered what so ever! I was bit shocked when Dr Quah commented at the end, no matter what the circumstances are, "just go for growth." WHAT an irresponsible answer. I mean, this Ethiopian man was asking for a recommendation for growth in Africa, and that's the answer that he gets from an LSE economist. Just one simple sentence (an imperative, even). I know the time was short, and Dr Quah wasn't an expert in Africa, but still, I think he could've been more considerate in his deliverance of words. On the question of whether having well-educated population was a factor for rapid growth, both speakers said yes, and gave China as an example. (No offense, but China!!) They further added that more growth means more general happiness. But I needed to stop and redigest all this. So growth in a communist (limitedly liberalised) environment is still acceptable as long as it is producing greater GDP per capita? How do you account for happiness when poverty out of China remain unchanged or increased? What bout those Chinese girls who are trafficked and sold to brothels? What about the exacerbating environmental pollution caused by rapid growth and development? Is this happiness?

*sigh* Hoping the next one would be more fruitful...(both intellectually and emotionally)