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Understanding the mechanisms of economic development

Angus Deaton ()

No 15891, NBER Working Papers from National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc

Abstract: I argue that progress in understanding economic development (as in other branches of economics) must come from the investigation of mechanisms; the associated empirical analysis can usefully employ a wide range of experimental and non-experimental methods. I discuss three different areas of research: the life-cycle saving hypothesis and its implication that economic growth drives higher rates of national saving, the theory of speculative commodity storage and its implications for the time-series behavior of commodity prices, and the relationship between economic growth and nutritional improvement. None of these projects has yet been entirely successful in offering a coherent account of the evidence, but all illustrate a process of trial and error, in which although mechanisms are often rejected, unlikely theoretical propositions are sometimes surprisingly verified, while in all cases there is a process of learning about and subsequently modifying our understanding of the underlying mechanisms

JEL-codes: C01 E21 O1 O15 O16 O4 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-dev, nep-lam and nep-ltv
Date: 2010-04
Note: EFG
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Published as Angus Deaton, 2010. "Understanding the Mechanisms of Economic Development," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 24(3), pages 3-16, Summer.

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