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Weird models of country development?

by Connor_Flexman1 min read22nd Sep 20217 comments

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EconomicsProgress StudiesWorld Optimization
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A Scott Alexander post argued that plausibly "land reform" was a vital first step to developing most countries in Asia. I hadn't heard any clear theory like this before—all the development goals I hear about sound like "get them more education and democracy" or sometimes "invest in them so they can develop their economies". Does anyone have other novel models of how to develop countries, like the idea of land reform as prerequisite, that are far outside the mainstream?

(Given that >$40b are now committed to EA, it seems plausible to me that most of the current best charities and even cause areas will soon be fully funded. If so, the bottleneck becomes opening new cause areas. Pushing hard for novel and better developmental economic policies seems like one of the possibilities with highest impact/neglect/tractability combination, with plausible comparative advantage in tractability through non-ideological thinking and pulling the policy rope sideways.)

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Instead of talking about more education it might be worthwhile to talk about better education. A lot of education in third world countries is cargo culting Western education and then gets used as a credentialing system.

Education that would focus on teaching accounting and other business skills would likely be much better then a lot of what passes as education currently in those countries. 

I agree, and want to place a slightly different emphasis. A "better" education system is a two-place function; what's better for a poor country is different from what's better for a rich Western one. And education in Western countries looked different back when they were industrializing and still poor by modern standards.

(Not that the West a century ago is necessarily a good template to copy. The point is that the education systems rich countries have today weren't necessarily a part of what made them rich in the first place.)

A lot (some think most) of Wes... (read more)

Fascism successfully transformed South Korea and Imperial Japan from poor agrarian states into industrial powerhouses through top-down industrial policy by the government.

Make the whole legal system of a third world country based on a blockchain solution like Kleros. Having an legal system that isn't easily corrupted and that can uphold contracts is very valuable for economic development. 

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Also, any recs on dev econ textbooks?