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Book talk: Gambling on Development with Professor Stefan Dercon

May 12 @ 5:00 pm - 6:00 pm

Why have some countries prospered, while others have not? In Gambling on Development, Professor Stefan Dercon takes us through Ebola in Sierra Leone, scandals in Malawi, beer factories in the DRC, mobile phone licences in Mozambique and relief programmes behind enemy lines in South Sudan.


Building on his many years of academic research and as a policy advisor for DFID, Professor Dercon argues that policies don’t explain why some countries prosper and others are left behind. Instead, the answer lies in a key ‘development bargain’, whereby a country’s elites shift from protecting their own positions to gambling on a growth-based future. Despite the imperfections of such bargains, China is among the most striking recent success stories, along with Indonesia and more unlikely places, such as Bangladesh, Ghana and, tentatively Ethiopia.



Stefan Dercon is Professor of Economic Policy at the Blavatnik School of Government and the Economics Department at the University of Oxford, and a Fellow of Jesus College. He is also Director of the Centre for the Study of African Economies.


He combines his academic career with work as a policy advisor, providing strategic economic and development advice, and promoting the use of evidence in decision making. Between 2011 and 2017, he was Chief Economist of the Department of International Development (DFID), the government department in charge of the UK’s aid policy and spending. Since 2020, he has been the Development Policy Advisor to successive Foreign Secretaries at the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office.


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20 Bloomsbury Square and Online (Zoom)

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