Scholarly Comments on Academic Economics

The Development Set: The Character of the Journal of Development Economics 2002

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We survey the six issues of the Journal of Development Economics that were published in 2002 in an effort to test the proposition that the field of development economics has been transformed by the institutional choice perspective in economics and political economy, and by the accumulating evidence on the failed policies of development assistance. These radical departures from business as usual research in development economics are evident in scholarly books, popular books, and public policy discussions. As we document, however, neither the theoretical perspective of institutional economics nor the empirical record of failed policy have had that significant of an impact on the field of development economics as reflected in the Journal of Development Economics. We find that the research agendas of scholars in the field mirror the research mandates of the leading international agencies and that the mode of argumentation attempts to mimic the professional biases in the economics profession toward formalism, and both of these forces conspire to limit the creativity and engagement with real problems of public policy by the “Development Set.”