Which Way Series

Which Are Mere Fads? Which Are Here to Stay?Thoughts About Development: Which Are Mere Fads? Which Are Here to Stay?

Published Spring 2005 (26 pages)
Download PDF

Paul Streeten outlines the changes in the development discourse, from economic growth as the solution to poverty, to the sustainable development paradigm, to human development, and all the nuances in between. Economic growth became, no longer a solution, but a performance test for development. The Lewis model was a widely accepted view stating that rural migrations to urban centers would decrease inequalities, providing support for the Kuznets Curve, but both of these have been largely discredited. Focus switched from GNP to job distribution and justice, away from industrialized versions of “employment” and “unemployment” and towards “labor utilization.” Insufficiently low utilization of labor is said to come from four major sources: consumption, attitudes, institutions, and policies. The basic needs approach has also been advocated recently, and expanded upon by Amartya Sen. One of the latest and most distinctive measures is the Human Development Index (HDI), which combines different statistics to rate a country’s development. This has also led to a debate on whether freedom should be included in the HDI, and the hopeful notion that with a certain level of human development inevitably comes a demand for greater freedoms.

Dr. Paul Streeten is founder and chairman of the board of World Development, consulting with the United Nations Development Program and the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization. He has done considerable work at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies and the Institute of Development Studies in Sussex, as well as on all of the UN Human Development Reports.