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Dani Rodrik on Development

In a recent oped, Dani Rodrik distinguishes between to approaches to development: bottom-up and macro. The bottom-up approach:

focuses directly on the poor, and on delivering services – for example, education, health care, and microcredit – to their communities. This tradition’s motto could be, “Development is accomplished one project at a time.”

The macro approach:

emphasizes broad reforms that affect the overall economic environment, and thus focuses on areas such as international trade, finance, macroeconomics, and governance.

While both approaches have their faults, Rodrik sees a promising convergence in mindset between the two camps. While practitioners still disagree about what works they’re beginning to embrace the notion that

Policy experimentation is a central part of discovery, coupled with monitoring and evaluation to close the learning loop. Experiments do not need to be of the [randomized controlled trial] type; China certainly learned from its policy experiments without a proper control group.

Reformers in this mold are suspicious of “best practices” and universal blueprints. They look instead for policy innovations, small and large, that are tailored to local economic circumstances and political complications.

More here, excellent throughout.

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