© 2020

Whatever Happened to the Third World?

A History of the Economics of Development

  • Interweaves the author's personal experience in working in developing countries

  • Succinctly explains the evolution in thinking about topics such as economic growth models, international trade theory, the dirigiste dogma, Hirschman’s dissenting views, and Myrdal’s circular cumulative causation

  • Touches upon contemporary issues such as the trade war between the US and China and the latest Sustainable Development Goals and population issues

  • Includes an overview of the first generation of development economists and beyond, development theories in the Marxist tradition, and views of contemporary commentators such as Edward Luce and Bruno Macaes


Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xix
  2. Peter de Haan
    Pages 1-37
  3. Peter de Haan
    Pages 39-97
  4. Peter de Haan
    Pages 99-112
  5. Peter de Haan
    Pages 193-252
  6. Peter de Haan
    Pages 253-298
  7. Back Matter
    Pages 299-324

About this book


How can the successful development of some former Third World countries be explained, while other developing countries have remained stagnant or worse, have deteriorated into failed states? This book offers a history of thought perspective on development economics and an assessment of development aid and cooperation. De Haan examines how the right mix of policies and evolving insights in development economics have impacted certain countries with the progression from low-income to middle-income, while it is still difficult to shift from the middle-income to higher-middle income stage.

Does foreign aid work? Due attention is given to aid philosophies since the end of WW2 and how (in)effective the implementation of such philosophies have been. With case studies drawn from the author's own 40 years' experience in development aid, this book is important reading for researchers and students of development economics, development studies, international trade and foreign aid.


Developing world Development economics Development aid history History of thought of development economics Middle income trap Third World Ethics of development aid Politics of development aid Economic geography of development International trade, globalisation and development World Bank East Asian Miracle Washington Consensus

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.The HagueThe Netherlands

About the authors

Peter de Haan has worked for forty years in development. First as a Junior Professional Officer at the Pacific Regional Office of the United Nations Development Programme, after which he was appointed Asia Bureau Chief at the Dutch Non-Governmental Organisation NOVIB (now merged with Oxfam). Subsequently, he briefly managed the European Office of Inter Press Service, a Third World news agency. De Haan was then appointed Senior Institutional Development Advisor at the Netherlands Ministry for Development Cooperation, followed by his postings at the Netherlands’ Embassy in La Paz, Bolivia, and – subsequently - Lusaka, Zambia. He has written various books about development and economics; the latest one being From Keynes to Piketty: The Century that Shook up Economics, published in 2016 by Palgrave Macmillan. De Haan is a member of the Royal Netherlands Economic Association and the Bolivian Academy of Economic Science.

Bibliographic information

Industry Sectors
Finance, Business & Banking


“Whatever happened to the Third World is a concise yet masterful analysis of the sources of economic growth and its implications for poverty reduction in developing countries. Peter de Haan does an excellent job in reviewing past growth theories against recent performance of the shrinking ‘Third World'. The volume is a must read both for university students and development practitioners. ” (Constantine Michalopoulos, Advisor to international organisations including the IMF, the World Bank, UCTAD and the EU Commission)

“Peter de Haan's new book is a comprehensive and entertaining tool to understand how people and institutions devised development paths through time. His economics academic insights combined with international field experience provide a brilliant grasp of a challenging matter.” (Eduardo Rodriguez-Veltze; Former President of Bolivia. La Paz, Bolivia) 

“Economic development, international trade and globalisation are such vast fields that it takes an excellent guide as Peter de Haan to understand their meaning and relevance for the Third World. Adding his personal experience, he lively describes how the developing world fared, how successive generations in development economics looked at it, and how they explained what happened. Experts, students and practitioners alike will enjoy this sparklingly written book.” (Arie Kuyvenhoven, Professor Emeritus of Development Economics, Wageningen University, and Visiting Professor, Nanjing Agricultural University, China)

“...Peter de Haan, drawing from his rich life-long experience working on the field as a diplomat and development expert, has written a fascinating book on the development and evolution of the economics of development. This very readable intellectual journey should be a required reading for policy makers, politicians, and students of economic development and the century-long fight on poverty, for an illuminating insight into this fascinating field of human endeavor. Delightful reading!” (Ronald MacLean-Abaroa, Former Minister of Finance, Sustained Development, and Foreign Affairs, and four-term elected Mayor of La Paz, Bolivia)