Ha-Joon Chang tries to advance our understanding of institutional economics by critically examining the currently dominant discourse on institutions and economic development. He will argue that the discourse suffers from a number of theoretical problems: its neglect of the causality running from development to institutions, its inability to see the impossibility of a free market, and its belief that the freest market and the strongest protection of private property rights are best for economic development.

He will also point out that the supposed evidence showing the superiority of ‘liberalised’ institutions relies too much on cross section econometric studies, which suffer from defective concepts, flawed measurements, and heterogeneous samples. Finally, he will argue that the currently dominant discourse on institutions and development has a poor understanding of changes in institutions themselves, which often makes it take unduly optimistic or pessimistic positions about the feasibility of institutional reform.

About the speaker

Ha-Joon Chang teaches economics at the University of Cambridge and is currently the Director of the Centre of Development Studies. In addition to numerous journal articles and book chapters, he has published 16 authored books (five co-authored) and 10 edited books. His main books include The Political Economy of Industrial Policy, Kicking Away the Ladder, Bad Samaritans, 23 Things They Don’t Tell You About Capitalism, and Economics: The User’s Guide. His writings have been translated and published in 42 languages and 44 countries. Worldwide, his books have sold over 2 million copies. He is the winner of the 2003 Gunnar Myrdal Prize and the 2005 Wassily Leontief Prize.

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