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2017 Morrison Lecture Shines Light on Flawed Explanations of Poor Economic Performance

October 16, 2017

Community members gather in Market Hall for annual lecture series featuring Cambridge scholar Dr. Ha-Joon Chang

Dr. Ha-Joon Chang, this year’s Morrison lecturer and a specialist in development economics

“Trent does a good job facilitating education beyond the classroom. Now that I’ve graduated, I like that I can continue to learn through these incredible speakers that come to our community,” said alumna Ashley Fearnall ’13, a Political Studies graduate who attended the annual David Morrison Lecture in International Development on September 28 at Market Hall.

Dr. Ha-Joon Chang, this year’s Morrison lecturer and a specialist in development economics, spoke about a number of recent explanations for the poor economic performance of some countries in sub-Saharan Africa. Specifically, he criticized those explanations based on so-called structural factors such as having a tropical climate, being landlocked, and having a ‘culture’ not suited to economic growth.

Dr. Chang, who is a professor of Economics at the University of Cambridge, argued that such factors are not necessarily inimical to growth or can be overcome. Instead, Dr. Chang stated that the most convincing explanation of poor economic performance has to do with bad policy prescriptions, often delivered from the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, which focused excessively on market liberalization and associated neoliberal policies.     

“Dr. Chang’s book was required reading during one of my International Development classes during my undergrad. I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to hear him speak,” said Ms. Fearnall.

Dr. Chang has published 16 authored books, including Kicking Away the Ladder, Bad Samaritans, 23 Things They Don’t Tell You About Capitalism, and Economics: The User’s Guide. By 2018, his writings will have been translated and published in 41 languages and 44 countries. He was also ranked ninth in the Prospect magazine’s World Thinkers 2014 poll.

Since 2007, the David Morrison Lecture in International Development has brought globally distinguished scholars and practitioners to the Trent and Peterborough communities who are renowned for the impact that their intellectual and applied work has had on international development studies. The lecture focuses on areas that are important to David Morrison's own contributions to the field, most notably approaches to reducing poverty and inequality, and achieving sustainable livelihoods in ways that promote social justice and respect the human and biophysical environment.