Robert Zoellick's Development Economics Speech Spurs Debate

    World Bank President Robert Zoellick. Photo by: Stephen Jaffe / IMF

    World Bank President Robert Zoellick’s call for a rethink of development economics in a bid to make it more useful for policymaking has ignited a debate on how effectively economists have portrayed and addressed global poverty challenges.

    >> Robert Zoellick: ‘Democratize Development Economics’

    Reactions to Zoellick’s speech, where he outlined the need for economists to improve their understanding of how economic structures evolve, were not unanimous, according to The Wall Street Journal.

    “The speech hits all the right notes: the need for economists to demonstrate humility, eschew blueprints…and focus on evaluation but not at the expense of the big questions,” Harvard University professor Dani Rodrik said, as quoted by WSJ.

    Michael Spence, a Nobel Prize-winning economist, described Zoellick’s speech as “very useful” and “in the right direction.”

    Meanwhile, WSJ says William Easterly of New York University noted that the comments by the World Bank president were “amazingly presumptuous.” The existing system of economic research works well enough, Easterly explained.

    About the author

    • Ivy Mungcal

      As former senior staff writer, Ivy Mungcal contributed to several Devex publications. Her focus is on breaking news, and in particular on global aid reform and trends in the United States, Europe, the Caribbean, and the Americas. Before joining Devex in 2009, Ivy produced specialized content for U.S. and U.K.-based business websites.