The theory of economic development and the World Bank’s identity crisis

Vol. 15 No. 1 (1995)

Jan-Mar / 1995
Published January 1, 1995
PDF-Portuguese (Português (Brasil))
PDF-Portuguese (Português (Brasil))

How to Cite

Bresser-Pereira, Luiz Carlos. 1995. “The Theory of Economic Development and the World Bank’s Identity Crisis”. Brazilian Journal of Political Economy 15 (1):1-40.

The theory of economic development and the World Bank’s identity crisis

Luiz Carlos Bresser-Pereira
Fundação Getúlio Vargas de S.Paulo – FGV-SP, São Paulo/SP, Brasil,
Brazilian Journal of Political Economy, Vol. 15 No. 1 (1995), Jan-Mar / 1995, Pages 1-40


This paper discusses World Bank’s identity while surveys development economics. Three crises are identified: (1) the Bank was created to finance state infrastructure projects according to the development economics relevance given to externalities, but since the neoliberal wave dominated Washington, its mission lost clarity; (2) the Bank, that is supposed to finance development, stooped to have a positive cash flow with many developing countries; and (3) the Bank is assumed to support growth of the developing countries, but in the debt crisis it clearly aligned with its major shareholders. Yet, the Bank keeps a major role in the world, as it is increasingly turning into a service institution counts with highly competent economists, as it supports much needed market oriented reforms, and as it promotes investments in human capital

JEL Classification: O10; F34

Keywords: World Bank Economic development new-developmentalism