Good Public Policy Requires Better Multidisciplinary Studies: The Legacy Of Deepak Lal (1940-2020)

Por Alejandro Chafuen: Publicado el 30/5/20 en:


Deepak Lal’s death caught me in semi-quarantine away from my books, including my collection of his works. He died one month ago in London. He was a prolific and profound writer on many topics, and the many questions he raised in his writings richly deserve to be remembered. Deepak Lal was one of the few champions of the free economy that I always read. I could never predict his analyses and conclusions, but I always knew I would learn something valuable.

Picture of the book cover of ″Reviving the Invisible Hand″ by Deepal Lal

F.A. Hayek in his classic Road to Serfdom warned that few things have “done so much harm to the liberal cause as the wooden insistence of some liberals on certain rules of thumb, above all the principle of laissez-faire.” Hayek had in mind the many advocates of the free economy who, confronted with any policy problem, offer the simplistic response “it’s the government’s fault, the free market will solve it.” Deepak Lal, like Hayek, found fault in many government policies, and advocated an increased reliance on the free market to solve problems. His considerations, however, were not based on “rules of thumb.” He used a multidisciplinary approach and his analyses drew on contributions from many different social and physical scientists.

The first of Lal’s books that I read, The Poverty of Development Economics, was written in 1982 and published by the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) in 1983. The book was originally a long paper written for educated laymen. It gave greater intellectual clout to the theories championed by Peter T. Bauer, an early critic of foreign aid (his Foreign Aid: An Instrument for Progress? was published by the IEA in 1966). Through his outstanding books, Bauer was a solitary academic voice challenging conventional views on development and stressing the importance of a free economy. Lal wrote in the same vein and helped start a change in economists’ approach to growth. Melvin Krauss at the Manhattan Institute and the Hoover Institution, and Hernando de Soto of Peru’s Institute for Liberty and Democracy, also made important contributions. Notice that in all these cases, it was free-market think tanks and not university faculties that were promoting and publishing such works.

Alejandro A. Chafuén es Dr. En Economía por el International College de California. Licenciado en Economía, (UCA), es miembro del comité de consejeros para The Center for Vision & Values, fideicomisario del Grove City College, y presidente de la Atlas Economic Research Foundation. Se ha desempeñado como fideicomisario del Fraser Institute desde 1991. Fue profesor de ESEADE. Síguelo en @Chafuen