chapter  Chapter 7
16 Pages

Historical and Empirical Generalizations: The Search for Causation

WithWilfred L. David

This chapter focuses on alternative interpretations of empirical regularities and uniform historical features of development. The process of interpretation and reinterpretation in the development discourse has involved the search for historical, theoretical, and empirical generalizations purporting to explain the causes of development and the factors underlying the transition from poverty to riches. By contrast, Hollis Chenery used statistical techniques and cross-sectional analyses to develop empirical generalizations about the average behavior of countries at different per capita income levels during the 1950s and 1960s. The complexities of history suggest that no simple theory of economic causation is sufficiently robust to capture all the ramifications of what is essentially a multifaceted development process. Modern economic growth is interpreted as a unique process of complex linkages among basic science, invention, and innovation that generate a flow of new production functions, including a sequence of “leading” sectors.