European Journal of Law and Economics

, Volume 28, Issue 1, pp 19–37 | Cite as

Towards the Law & Economics of development: Ragnar Nurkse (1907–1959)

  • Wolfgang Drechsler


The purpose of this essay is, first, to suggest Ragnar Nurkse as a Law & Economics thinker, and second, yet more importantly, to demonstrate the possibility and desirability of a Law & Economics of Development along Nurksean lines. Ragnar Nurkse (1907–1959), whose 100th birthday is celebrated in 2007, is one of the founding fathers of classic development economics. Given the recent interest in the Law & Economics of development, showing how a classic figure in the field successfully used such an approach might be of considerable interest, especially as development economics is a very emotional field which may well profit from the ‘objectivizing’ function of Law & Economics. Nurkse’s economics-based realism, his focus on what effect a program really has, rather than what it is supposed to have, and on what a policy can steer or change and what not, based on a typically Stiglerian attention to aggregate welfare, seem especially productive. Finally, the essay suggests a set of Nurkse-based principles or theses for a Law & Economics of Development.


Nurkse Ragnar Law & Economics, definition of Development economics Development 

JEL Classification

B31 K00 O20 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Tallinn University of TechnologyTallinnEstonia
  2. 2.MarburgGermany

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