Development and Underdevelopment in the History of Economic Thought

Leon Dupriez and the 1953 International Economic Association conference on economic progress

Alain Raybaut, Gredeg CNRS University Cote d'Azur

This contribution focusses on the fourth International Economic Association conference organized by Leon Dupriez in 1953 in Santa Margherita Ligure, near Genova. Sixty leading economists from 20 countries were gathered to discuss the problem of long-term economic growth and development. Dupriez was the chairman of the programme committee and played the major task in the preparation and organization of the round table. A summarized version of the papers and discussions was initially published in 1954 in the UNESCO International Social Science Bulletin with a preface of Haberler. Then, Du- priez edited in 1956 a book, Economic Progress, with a limited selection of 19 full papers presented at the conference. The book also contains an long introduction by Dupriez, building on his final intervention to the conference, on the ”Principles of a Theory of Secular Economic Movement”. The programme of the meeting was ambitious. Dupriez insisted from the beginning that the subject was not economic development in ”a narrow materialistic sense, but economic progress, with full regard given to non- economic factors”. Different topics were investigated with an historical or theoretical perspective and specific emphasis on underdeveloped areas. Let mention, the meaning of economic growth and its relation to progress, the roles of demography and redistribution, capital formation and entrepreneur- ship, the process of in industrialization, market reform and fiscal policy as instruments of economic development. As will be shown, this broad vision of the subject was a source of strength and weakness at the same time. The paper also explores how the conference and the book were received by contemporary economists, looking to its recensions in leading internatio- nal and French reviews, notably, the AER, Ecomometrica, The Journal of Economic History, the Revue d’Economie Politique and Revue Economique.


Keywords: Economic progress, Long term growth, Stagnation, Development, IEA conferences, 1950s

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