Yale Daily News

The Yale Economic Growth Center in conjunction with Inclusion Economics Yale has kicked off a symposium focusing on race, ethnicity, gender and economic justice. 

The symposium is spread over the course of two consecutive Fridays, and began with an opening session on Thursday night. This event is part of the 60-year anniversary of the founding of the EGC as well as the launch of a new Yale organization called Inclusion Economics Yale. Thursday night’s event was structured as a discussion of economic work in the developing world. It was moderated by Catherine Cheney ’10 GRD ’10, a journalist at Devex. 

“The goal of this introduction symposium is a discussion of the contributions of economists in the developing world to economic development thought,” Cheney said in her opening remarks. “For too long, many of these economists have been overlooked and this symposium and our future work at the EGC hopes to change that.” 

The kickoff event included a panel featuring economics professor Rohini Pande, who chairs  the EGC, history professor David Engerman, Cornell economics professor Ravi Kanbur, Jackson Institute Kissinger Visiting Scholar Amna Qayyum and Gerald Jaynes, professor of economics, African American Studies and Urban Studies.

According to Pande, she and Jaynes co-created the symposium because they both wanted to study and share the contributions of economists in the developing world while also studying future development economics through the lens of racism, misogyny and the historical effects of colonialism. 

During the event, the panelists walked through the contributions of economists like 1979 Nobel Laureate in Economics Arthur Lewis, who was from the West Indies, British Economist Joan Robinson and Indian economist Jagdish Bhagwati. Addressing questions such as “what questions are we as researchers failing to ask and answer?”, the panelists walked through how western-centric models have led to the creation of global inequality. 

“The problem with western-centric economic development thought is that western economists believe inequality is inherently a part of economic development,” Engerman said in the panel. “However, this has led to the creation of massive amounts of inequality which are detrimental for most people in the developing world.” 

According to Jaynes, this panel and the rest of the symposium events are meant to study the way history has informed modern development economics, as well as the ways that development economics can help alleviate poverty and inequality. 

Thursday’s kickoff event was the first of three panels that comprise the EGC’s symposium. On Friday Oct. 29, the EGC hosted a panel on “The Public Sector and Resource Allocation”. On Friday, Nov. 5, the morning panel will focus on “Inequality and Income Support” and the afternoon panel on “Affirmative Action and Resource Allocation”. 

Pande said that the EGC has been involved with studying development economics since the 1960s, when professors from Yale went to African nations and studied how the governments, many of whom had only recently gained independence, were trying to build up their economies. 

“I’m really excited for this journey,” Pande said. “This is a continuation of issues that are connected between the U.S. and the rest of the world, and we’re going to study how we can further socioeconomic development especially through the lens of older thinkers within the movement.” 

The Economic Justice Center was founded in 1961. 

YASH ROY
Yash Roy covers education & youth services in New Haven and is a P&D staffer. He is a first year in Timothy Dwight College and is from Princeton, NJ.