Just a very quick thought today.  After reading Charles Kenny’s Getting Better and skimming Owen Barder’s “Can Aid Work?“, I’m wondering if anyone else can hear the faint rumblings of something very important – here we have two people, hardly from the fringes of development thought, noting variously that 1) aid does not seem well-correlated with economic growth, and therefore a clear causal relationship is pretty hard to determine and 2) despite this, and in several cases in the absence of major economic growth, things seem to be getting better in a number of places (this second point is mostly Charles).  In other words, are we seeing arguments against a focus on economic growth in development shift from the margins to the center of development thinking?

Those of us more on the qualitative social theory fringes of the field have long been arguing that the worship of growth did not make much sense, given what we were seeing on the ground.  Further, the emergence of the anthropocene (the recent era of human dominated environmental events) as a direct outcome of more than a century of concerted efforts to spur ever-faster economic growth, calls into question the wisdom of a continued myopic focus on growth without a serious consideration of its costs and potential material limits.  So if indeed we are seeing the beginnings of a shift in policy circles,  I am thrilled.  Nothing will change tomorrow, but I think these interventions might be important touchstones for future efforts to create some sort of development economics of finitude . . .