Lant Pritchett: Focus op welvaart, niet op armoede

Interessant interview met de Amerikaanse ontwikkelingseconoom Lant Pritchett.

Zijn recept voor ontwikkeling:

Development is a process that happens at the level of countries. The four transformations a country should make are: (1) to a productive economy, (2) to a capable state, so that it is able to do what it sets out to do, (3) to a government responsive to the needs and wishes of citizens, and (4) to a society where equal treatment of all before the law and of each other is a bedrock principle. I think those four characterise the transformation that takes a country from chaos and poverty to the levels of prosperity and well-being that we see in developed countries.

Het komt neer op: “I strongly favour a focus on prosperity over a focus on poverty.”

Dat lijkt misschien evident, maar is het minder als je kijkt naar de klassieke aanpak in ontwikkeling, die Pritchett kinky development, en prutsen in de marge noemt.

Yet the current focus in development is on what I call ‘kinky development’, which involves tinkering on the margins to help the poorest of the poor. That is the wrong focus. If you achieve national development, you will solve poverty and provide prosperity for the general population, whereas focusing on poverty alone often is at odds with getting you to desirable levels of prosperity.

Verder nog boeiende inzichten over onderwijs, ook relevant buiten ontwikkelingseconomie:

“‘Schooling ain’t learning’ [naar de titel van een boek van Pritchett: The Rebirth of Education: Schooling Ain’t Learning] … ‘spending ain’t investment’. It is only ‘investment’ if it works.
I think people have confused ticking the box of spending money on a budget item called ‘Education’, with true investment in human beings.

En over best practices (in ontwikkeling en onderwijs): Het is geen toeval dat de (minderwaardige) AK47 het meest populaire automatische geweer is.

The first thing is you [South-Africans] should not adopt best practices. Evolve your own organic South African practice that is tailored to South African conditions. A lot of countries sent their education experts to Finland because they had wonderful education results. That is why I say: “If you learn from the Finnish, you’re finished.”

Het interview is het jongste in een reeks die in 2000 startte ter gelegenheid van het 25-jarig bestaan van het Zuid-Afrikaanse Centre for Development and Enterprise. In de reeks nog veelbelovende interview met onder meer Paul Romer, Francis Fukuyama, Martin Wolf en Paul Collier (links onderaan het interview met Pritchett).

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