Markets, Productivity, and Happiness in a Historical Perspective

Why is development economics a separate sub-discipline?

Bach Maria , Unil
Fearey Chloe, independent
Kuswani Motse, The American University of Paris

Development is simultaneously said be a founding focus within the economics discipline and a new subfield as of the 1940s. Put differently, development economics is said to be both one of the newest and oldest branches within economics. How can it be both the newest and oldest? And why do we need a separate sub-field of economics to deal with development if all economists since the beginning of the discipline have dealt with development? The few studies that have answered this question blame the dominance of narrower questions around resource allocation and exchange theory within economics in the first half of the 20th century, pushing economists interested in development issues into their own separate subfield. We will argue that there are two additional reasons, namely the Western perspective in economics and the institutionalization of development economics as of the 1960s. We also investigate the potential effects of the separation.


Keywords: development economics, institutions, monoeconomics, sub-field

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