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Gunnar Myrdal - What is Development

Gunnar Myrdal - What is Development

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What Is Development?Author(s): Gunnar MyrdalSource:
Journal of Economic Issues,
Vol. 8, No. 4 (Dec., 1974), pp. 729-736Published by: Association for Evolutionary EconomicsStable URL:
Accessed: 20/12/2008 03:38
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J
JOURNALOFECONOMICSSUES
Vol. VIIINo.4December1974
WhatIsDevelopment?
GunnarMyrdal
From thepost-WorldWarII periodtodate,booksabout thedevelopmentproblems ofunderdevelopedcountrieshave containedintroductoryectionsdiscussingwhatshould beunderstoodbyunder-developed,developing,orsome otherdiplomaticeuphemismand,morefundamentally, whatthe"development" ofsuch acountryshouldmean.Oftenit hasbeenconcludedthat afullysatisfactorydefinitioncannot beprovided;wemay have tosettle forspecifyingone orseveralindicators ofsomethingwhichhas to beleftratherhazy.Ihaveneverbeensatisfiedby theseexplanations.The firstrequirementofascientificanalyst isthatheshouldclearlydefinetheconceptshe isutilizing.
DefiningDevelopment
Bydevelopment meanthemovementupwardof theentiresocialsystem,andIbelievethis istheonly logicallytenable definition.This socialsystemencloses,besides the so-called economicfactors,allnoneconomicfactors,includingall sortsofconsumptionbyvariousgroupsofpeople;consumptionprovidedcollectively;educationalandhealth facilitiesandlevels;the distributionofpowerinsociety;andmoregenerallyeconomic,social,andpoliticalstratification;broadlyspeaking,institutions and attitudes-to whichwemust add as an
Theauthor sProfessorEmeritusofInternationalEconomics, StockholmUniversity,Sweden;andAssociateand protemporeResidentVisitingFellow at theCenterfortheStudy ofDemocraticInstitutions,SantaBarbara, California.729
 
730GunnarMyrdal
exogenoussetof factors inducedpolicymeasuresappliedinordertochangeone or several of theseendogenousfactors.Thissocialsystemmay staystagnant,or itmaymoveupward ordownward.(Itmayalso "turn arounditsaxis,"acomplicationthatwill notbecommenteduponinthis abstract andsimplifiedaccount.)Thedynamicsof thesystemaredeterminedbythe factthatamongalltheendogenousconditions there is circularcausation,implyingthatfonechanges,otherswillchangenresponse,and thosesecondarychangesin their turncausenewchangesallaround,and soforth.The conditions and theirchangesare thusinterdependent.This iswhyall of them mustbe taken into accountwhenconsideringthemovementofthesystemand also whenanalyzingwhathappenstoone set ofconditions,forexample,economicfactors or oneeconomicindicator,such asproduction orGNP.Onlyaholistic,whatIcall"institutional,"approachislogicallytenable. Thechangeswhichinthis model aredefined asexogenous,thatis,policymeasures,areundera widerperspectivealsodependenton theendogenousconditionsandtheirchanges,to whichtheyarereactions andwhichalso,inmanyways,constricttheirscopeanddirection. Whenkeptseparatein thismodel ofcircularcausation,this isdoneinorder topreservea room offreedomfordevelopmentplanning,thatis,policydelibera-tionsand decisionsconceived of asnotentirelyrestricted anddeter-minedbythe otherconditions and theirchanges.Thereare threeaspects of circularcausation.Oneimportant harac-teristic isthatmostly,althoughnot always, achangeupwardof oneconditionresultsinsecondary changes ofotherconditionsproceedingin the samedirection.Because ofthis thecircularcausationwill tendto makechangeshave cumulativeeffects.Second,whether acondition'schangeisgoing upwardordownwardmustbe determinedfromthepointofviewofwhether itcontributestodevelopment.Usuallythe answer tothatquestion canbe givenwithout much hesitationas aninferencefromourgeneralknowledgeoftheprocessofcircular causation.Togiveanabstract example:Improvednutritionwilltend toraiseproductivityoflabor, whilehigherproductivitynormallywillincrease theopportunitytoimprove nutri-tion.Third,thecoefficients ofinterrelationbetween alltheconditionsinthesocialsystem-andtheinertia, timelags, or inextreme casesthe totalnonresponsiveness ofonecondition tochangesin otherconditions orsome ofthem-usuallyareunknown,orourknowledgeofthem isutterlymprecise.This islargely trueeven inthedevelopedcountrieswith theirmuch morehighlydevelopedanalysis of all social

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