Although Robert Solow never applied his neoclassical growth model to an underdeveloped country, neither did he ever exclude underdeveloped countries from its scope. For a generation, the model's use to predict worldwide convergence in levels of per capita income provided the main link from growth theory to development economics. In the last two decades, augmented Solow models, endogenous growth models, and exercises in development accounting have proliferated. Nevertheless, it is argued, the formalization of development economics and the post-1980 dominance of neoclassical development economics at the World Bank were driven as much by the theory of trade distortions as by the revival of interest in growth models and growth accounting.

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