Fabricating Economic Development

Research output: Working paper


This paper is concerned with the institutions of Irish economics; it is structured around two arguments each of which links to the thesis presented in Garvin’s Preventing the future (2004). Overall it will be demonstrated that Irish economics was shaped by intellectual trends experienced within economic thought globally as well as the social considerations that were peculiar to Ireland. The evidence presented indicates that firstly while Economic Development mattered to the Irish economy it did not matter for the reasons that most writers have suggested it did. It is argued for instance that much of the literature, regardless of academic discipline, presents the publication of Economic Development in 1958 as analogous to a “big bang” event in the creation of modern Ireland. However, such a “big bang” perspective misrepresents the sophistication of economic debates prior to Whitaker’s report as well as distorting the interpretation of subsequent developments. The paper secondly, by drawing on the contents of contemporary academic journals, reappraises Irish economic thinking before and after the publication of Economic Development. It is argued that an economically “liberal” approach to Keynesianism, such as that favoured by TK Whitaker and George O’Brien, lost out in the 1960s to a more interventionist approach: only later did a more liberal approach to macroeconomic policy triumph. The rival approaches to academic economics were in turn linked to wider debates on the influence of religious authorities on Irish higher education. Academic economists were particularly concerned with preserving their intellectual independence and how a shift to planning would keep decisions on resource allocation out of the reach of conservative political and religious leaders.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2009

Publication series

NameInstitute for British-Irish Studies
PublisherUniversity College Dublin

Bibliographical note

Brief Description: working paper
Editor(s) / Output Media: UCD
Commissioning Body / Publisher: Working Papers in British-Irish Studies, No.92.
Pagination / Size: 21 pages
ISBN: ISSN 1649-0304


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