This is the editorial introduction to the HOPE conference volume on the history of development economics. The disciplinary field of development economics has been surrounded by controversies since its inception in the postwar period. Although growth economics and development economics were born around the same time span, they evolved in different ways. Full histories of development economics started to appear in the 1980s, produced mostly by development economists and reflecting their experiences. This has changed in the last two decades or so, as historians of thought have contributed to reinterpret the evolution and divisions within development economics. The HOPE 2017 conference brought together for the first time development economists and historians of thought. The articles collected here reflect the tension between theory and practice and highlight the nexus between the development of specific techniques and approaches and the implementation of policies.
Writing the History of Development Economics
Michele Alacevich is associate professor of economic history and the history of economic thought at the University of Bologna. He is the author of Inequality: A Short History (2018, with Anna Soci), The Political Economy of the World Bank (2009), and Economia Politica. Un’Introduzione Storica (2009, with Daniela Parisi). His articles have appeared in Past and Present, Journal of Global History, History of Political Economy, Journal of the History of Economic Thought, and other journals.
Mauro Boianovsky is professor of economics at the Universidade de Brasilia (Brazil), where he teaches history of economic thought and growth economics. He has published a number of articles in professional journals and chapters in books. He has also edited volumes and coauthored a book on the history of disequilibrium macroeconomics. He is past president of the History of Economics Society (2016–17).