TOPConferences>2006/7/5

CCAS Public Lecture (Co-hosted with Faculty of Policy Studies)
"Coasean Development Economics"
on Wednesday, July 5, 2006 2:00pm-4:00pm

<Speaker>
Prof. James Roumasset, University of Hawaii


CCAS held a public lecture, co-hosted with the Faculty of Policy Studies, inviting Professor James Roumasset of the University of Hawaii to speak on the topic of “Coasean Development Economics”. The main theme of the lecture was how Development Economics can be improved by the implementation of the Coasean transaction costs approach, particularly in the area of agricultural economics.

The field of Development Economics has changed in the post-war period, from the ‘Big Push' of the 1950s, through ‘Pigouvian Interventionism’in the 1960s and 1970s, to the Washington Consensus by the 1980s, and towards ‘Stiglitzian Interventionism’in the 1990s. After explaining this pendulum movement between intervention and discretion, Professor Roumasset emphasized that the last of these forms of intervention was somewhat different. He explained that, in the Stiglitzian model, the government’s role was as a facilitator. In this regard, interventionism to facilitate an enlarged role for the market was given most attention.

Using the case study of a shared agricultural tenancy system, Professor Roumasset employed the Coasean method to demonstrate how farmland held in smaller plots can be more productive than land held in larger plots. From the perspective of Development Economics, agricultural development is a critical factor; it has been suggested that agricultural growth of 1% can reduce poverty and hunger by 3 or 4%. Following his discussions, Professor Roumasset concluded by arguing that price controls such as private sector subsidies should be abolished, and that R&D should be focused on agriculture and agricultural infrastructure. In addition, governments should play a facilitating role to enhance co-operation in the private sector.

While the lecture was conducted in English, Professor Roumasset’s instructive Powerpoint presentation was clear enough to be understood by all present. Students reported finding it a stimulating experience to hear in person from one of the world's leading developmental economists on the most important current topics in that field.



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