This article describes the birth and early trajectory of development economics during the 1950s. It shows the European origins of many core concepts of development economics and how they acquired global currency. The article also discusses the links between the birth of the new disciplinary field of development economics and the hegemonic shift between Britain and the United States in the central decades of the twentieth century. Finally, it describes the crisis of the discipline between the 1960s and 1970s.

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