Since the mid-1990s, development economics has witnessed an explosion in the discourse explaining the poor economic performance in developing countries – especially those in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) – by non-policy factors, such as geography, climate, natural resources, history, institutions, and culture.
Ha-Joon Chang will argue that these arguments are neither theoretically persuasive nor empirically convincing and thus can only be interpreted as an attempt by mainstream economists to ‘explain away’ the apparent paradox that ‘good’ policies based on ‘good’ theories have failed. The decline of this discourse with the recent revival of economic growth in Sub-Saharan Africa also confirms the ideological nature of this literature.
Ha-Joon Chang teaches economics at Cambridge University. He is the author of 23 Things They Don’t Tell You About Capitalism, and Economics: the User’s Guide.