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How Developing Countries Can ‘Beat the Odds’

Beating the Odds: Jump-Starting Developing Countries by Justin Yifu Lin and Célestin Monga, Princeton and Oxford: Princeton University Press, 2017;pp viii + 393, $35.

 

Since the early 2000s several attempts have been made by economists to explain the disastrous record of neo-liberal reforms and to chart out future alternatives. Beating the Odds: Jump-Starting Developing Countries by Justin Yifu Lin and Célestin Monga is a welcome addition to this pool of literature. Passionately written and rigorous in its exposition, this book provides an excellent summary of what is wrong with contemporary development literature, even as it skilfully highlights the changes that development thinking has undergone over the years. Though not without its flaws, the sheer empirical evidence that the authors put together and the wonderful insights that they provide through their case studies make this a must-read for students of development economics.

The book consists of nine chapters but thematically speaking one can think of the book as consisting of two broad sections. The initial four chapters provide a critical assessment of “standard” development theories and point to the disastrous policies that they have inspired in the developing world. This pessimism gives way to a brighter message in the three chapters that follow, where the authors lay out an alternative, “neo-structuralist” recipe for developing countries to “beat the odds” that have been stacked up against them for far too long. In doing so, they make a case for a third way in development thinking; one that distances itself both from the market fundamentalism inspired by the Washington Consensus as well as the old-school structuralist analysis.

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Updated On : 30th Oct, 2019

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