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date: 04 July 2020

Summary and Keywords

The definition of “development” has changed over the years since the inception of development economics as a sub-discipline of economics in the 1950s. Initially, development economics was understood as a study of how the economies of nation-states have grown and expanded, placing the discipline in line with the classical and neoclassical traditions of economics. However, there emerged another definition, this time with a focus on how to improve the welfare of the population and the planet—although much development economics in this Marxist and neo-Marxist vein ultimately also focused on national income. The early economic models were fundamentally classical ones, emphasizing structural change, but they did allow for some state intervention to achieve development, showing the influences borrowed from John Maynard Keynes. Meanwhile, the best-known leftist traditions of development economics are structuralism and dependency theory, or the world systems theory, and the latter two have their roots in Marxist political economy. In the immediate post-World War II period, neoclassical development economics was strongly influenced by the modernization theory—a historical and sociological theory which aimed to create an alternative to neo-Marxist accounts of development based on the need to transform societies from “simple,” traditional, or underdeveloped to complex and modern.

Keywords: development economics, classical economics, neoclassical economics, Keynesian economics, classical development economics, neo-Marxist development economics, neoclassical development economics

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