Dani Rodrik discusses the inaugural Economics for Inclusive Prosperity conference and how economics can be a tool for creating inclusive societies.

March 20, 2023

Dani Rodrik is the Ford Foundation Professor of International Political Economy at Harvard Kennedy School, co-director of the Reimagining the Economy project at the Malcolm Wiener Center for Social Policy, and one of the co-directors of the Economics for Inclusive Prosperity (EfIP) network.

The Economics for Inclusive Prosperity Inaugural Conference will be held on March 30th and 31st at Harvard Kennedy School and the Charles Hotel. The conference is hosted by the Malcolm Wiener Center for Social Policy and co-sponsored by the Stone Program in Wealth Distribution, Inequality and Social Policy and the Reimagining the Economy project. The EfIP Conference will bring together leading scholars committed to generating innovative policy ideas to address pressing issues such as rising inequality, climate change, and macroeconomic instability. The schedule, speaker list, and registration link are available here.


Q: What was the inspiration behind creating the Economics for Inclusive Prosperity (EfIP) network?

In the public discourse, economics and economists have often been blamed for being obsessed with growth and efficiency and not caring too much about the broader equity or societal implications of their policy recommendations. Contemporary economics is too often equated with what has come to be called “neoliberalism” – an excessive faith in the ability of markets to deliver prosperity on their own. We wanted to show that this is not an accurate perception. Neoliberalism is in fact bad economics. Economics is not simply a paean to free markets. When properly applied, economics can be an important tool for creating inclusive societies. There is a vast group of economists working on how to enhance economic performance and equity through public and collective action. We wanted to showcase this work and make it more broadly accessible, as well as encouraging younger researchers to engage in policy. 


Q: Why is this conference being organized and what are your hopes for it?

This meeting was originally planned to take place just as the pandemic got under way. So we had to cancel it. We are hoping to establish a wider network of economists who may not necessarily know each other well and are working on different topics, but share a common concern about where policy has headed in recent years and are working on better solutions.


Q: What are you anticipating guests and viewers could take away from these discussions and panels?

I hope the most important message they take is that economics can be an ally rather than the enemy of inclusive prosperity.  


Q: What’s next for EfIP?

We plan to remain a loose network of economists who are trying to come up with new, creative policy ideas that are both based on good evidence and push the boundaries of our existing institutional arrangement. To that end, we will continue our policy brief series (see https://econfip.org/) and occasional panels and conferences. But we are also hoping that this conference will give us some ideas about new directions.