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Reality and Rhetoric

Reality and Rhetoric

Studies in the Economics of Development

P. T. Bauer

ISBN 9780674749474

Publication date: 01/01/1986

Reality and Rhetoric is the culmination of P. T. Bauer’s observations and reflections on Third World economies over a period of thirty years. He critically examines the central issues of market versus centrally planned economies, industrial development, official direct and multinational resource transfers to the Third World, immigration policy in the Third World, and economic methodology. In addition, he has written a fascinating account of recent papal doctrine on income inequality and redistribution in the Third World. The major themes that emerge are the importance of non-economic variables, particularly people’s aptitudes and mores, to economic growth; the unfortunate results of some current methods of economics; the subtle but important effects of the exchange economy on development; and the politicization of economic life in the Third World.

As in Bauer’s previous writings, this book is marked by elegant prose, apt examples, a broad economic-historical perspective, and the masterful use of informal reasoning.


  • Peter Bauer is the world’s foremost authority on economic development… In Reality and Rhetoric he destroys many popular myths about economic development and in the process convincingly demonstrates that static societies result wherever government preempts human action by monopolizing economic life… Drawing on rich historical knowledge and personal experience of West Africa and Asia, the author chronicles examples of rapid economic advance prior to the advent of marketing boards and other government intrusions… His scholarship is devastating, and it will leave sensitive readers with a sense of outrage at development economists whose ignorant meddling has devastated poor and struggling people.

    —Wall Street Journal


  • P. T. Bauer was Professor of Economics at the London School of Economics and Political Science.

Book Details

  • 192 pages
  • 6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches
  • Harvard University Press

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