Monday, October 19, 2009

Darwin and Development

"Growth is innovation, and you can’t know in advance how to do the innovative thing, or else it wouldn’t be an innovation. Development is BOTTOM-UP outcome of lots of unpredictable individual successes and failures."
That is from Bill Easterly's most recent post at AidWatch. He goes on to say:
"The paradox of development economics is that Development does NOT require any one person (Expert, Leader, or Aid Official) to have a comprehensive understanding of how to achieve Development (sort of like how evolution managed to happen on its own before Darwin)."
This is a tough message for many aid workers and experts, but it is true. There is no evidence of intelligent design at work in economic growth, and we still don't understand exactly how it works. The best thing to do, as Bill notes, is to create a fertile environment for experimentation, and incentives for replication of the things that succeed.