Development and Underdevelopment

  • A. P. Thirlwall


Current academic interest in development economics is a relatively recent phenomenon. For the student today it must be difficult to realise that twenty years ago a course in development economics was a rare feature of an undergraduate programme in economics, and that textbooks on development were few and far between. Similarly, active public concern with the poorer nations of the world is of equally recent origin. The majority of the national and international agencies to promote development that we are familiar with today have been established since the Second World War. Before the war the poor countries of the world were categorised as undeveloped and relatively neglected. Today the situation is very different. The blunt title of ‘undeveloped’ has been dropped from use, to be replaced by a string of euphemistic labels ranging from ‘underdeveloped’ to ‘emerging’, expressing faith in the development potential of these countries. The development of the so-called Third World is now regarded as one of the greatest social and economic challenges facing mankind. What accounts for this apparent sudden change in interest and attitude? Three major stimuli can be pin-pointed. Firstly, there has been a renewed interest among professional economists in the process of growth and the theory of planning.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. R. Harrod, ‘An Essay in Dynamic Theory’, Economic Journal (Mar 1939), and Towards a Dynamic Economics (London: Macmillan, 1948).Google Scholar
  2. E. Domar, ‘Expansion and Employment’, American Economic Review (Mar 1947).Google Scholar
  3. J. Hicks, ‘Growth and Anti-Growth’, Oxford Economic Papers (Nov 1966) p. 265.Google Scholar
  4. S. Kuznets, ‘Regional Economic Trends and Levels of Living’, in Economic Growth and Structure (London: Heinemann, 1965) pp. 142–75.Google Scholar
  5. S. Andic and A. Peacock, ‘The International Distribution of Income, 1949 and 1957’, Journal of the Royal Statistical Society, part 2 (1961).Google Scholar
  6. S. J. Patel, ‘The Economic Distance between Nations: Its Origins, Measurement and Outlook’, Economic Journal (Mar 1964).Google Scholar
  7. C. Furtado, Development and Underdevelopment (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1964) pp. 141–3.Google Scholar
  8. S. Kuznets, ‘International Differences in Income Levels’, in B. Okun and R. Richardson (eds), Studies in Economic Development (New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 1961) p. 9.Google Scholar
  9. For semantic entertainment on the meaning of ‘development’ and ‘underdevelopment’, see F. Machlup, ‘Disputes, Paradoxes and Dilemmas Concerning Economic Development’, in Essays in Economic Semantics (New York: Norton, 1967). Machlup himself defines economic development as ‘those changes in the use of resources that result in a potentially continuing growth of national income per head in a society with increasing or stable population’.Google Scholar
  10. D. Usher, Rich and Poor Countries, Eaton Paper No. 9 (London: Institute of Economic Affairs, 1966) pp. 10–11.Google Scholar
  11. Statement by M. F. Millikan before the Subcommittee on Foreign Economic Policy of the Joint Economic Committee on the Economic Report, Hearings, Foreign Economic Policy, 84th Congress, 1st Session, pp. 21, 28, cited in C. Kindleberger, Economic Development, 2nd ed. (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1965) p. 9.Google Scholar
  12. A. G. B. Fisher, ‘Capital and the Growth of Knowledge’, Economic Journal (Sep 1933) and ‘Production: Primary, Secondary and Tertiary’, Economic Record (June 1939).Google Scholar
  13. C. Clark, The Conditions of Economic Progress (London: Macmillan, 1940).Google Scholar
  14. M. A. Katouzian, ‘The Development of the Service Sector: A New Approach’, Oxford Economic Papers (Nov 1970).Google Scholar
  15. P. Bauer and B. Yamey, ‘Economic Progress and Occupational Distribution’, Economic Journal (Dec 1951).Google Scholar
  16. H. Chenery, ‘Patterns of Industrial Growth’, American Economic Review (Sep 1960).Google Scholar
  17. W. W. Rostow, The Stages of Economic Growth (Cambridge University Press, 1960).Google Scholar
  18. S. Kuznets, ‘Notes on the Take-off’, in W. W. Rostow (ed.), The Economics of Take-off into Sustained Growth, Proceedings of the Conference of the International Economic Association (London: Macmillan, 1963); reprinted in Kuznets, Economic Growth and Structure p. 219.Google Scholar
  19. A. K. Cairncross, ‘Essays in Bibliography and Criticism, xiv: The Stages of Economic Growth’, Economic History Review (Apr 1961).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© A. P. Thirlwall 1972

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. P. Thirlwall
    • 1
  1. 1.University of KentCanterburyUK

Personalised recommendations