Part of Season 1 of our People & Politics series – a series that aims to delve beneath the surface of some of the urgent political and social issues that are facing both young and old in the UK and beyond. This season’s focus is Democracy in the 21st Century.
Ha-Joon Chang is one of the world’s leading heterodox economists, and is currently a Reader in the Political Economy of Development at the University of Cambridge. His books, including “23 Things They Don’t Tell You About Capitalism” and “Economics: A User’s Guide” have been extremely influential on both the general public and policy-makers, leading Prospect Magazine to name Chang as one of the top 20 World Thinkers in 2013.
He has serves as a consultant to the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank, the European Investment Bank, Oxfam, and various United Nations agencies. He also serves on the advisory board of Academics Stand Against Poverty (ASAP) and is a fellow at the Center for Economic Policy Research in Washington D.C.
Chang was born and raised in South Korea, studying at Seoul National University and later at the University of Cambridge for his PhD. His work has focussed largely on industrial policy and development. He has been a strong critic of the IMF, the World Trade Organisation and the World Bank, arguing that their policies around the world do more to hinder countries undergoing development than to help them, policies he describes as “ladder-kicking”.
He is also a stringent critic of neo-liberal “free-market” economic theory that exerts such a strong influence on governments around the world, and has argued that state interventionism is often much more successful in fostering development then deregulation and privatisation, policies often forced onto developing countries. His arguments have won praise from many other economists, including Nobel Prize-winner Joseph Stiglitz.