Portrait photo of Dudley Seers
Dudley Seers CMG (1920–1983) was a British economist who specialised in development economics. After his military service with the Royal Navy he taught at Oxford and then worked for various UN institutions. He was the director of the Institute of Development Studies at the University of Sussex from 1967 till 1972.
Seers is famous for replacing the "growth fetishism" of the early post war period with a greater concern with social development. He stressed the relativistic nature of judgements about development and questioned the value of the neoclassical approach to economics.
Writing on the Criteria for Development Nixson reports Seers argument that "Surely the values we need are staring us in the face, as soon as we ask ourselves: what are the necessary conditions for a universally accepted aim, the realisation of the potential of human personality?"(Seers in Baster). Assuming that the aim and yardstick of development is implied by this Seers goes on to identify a number of objectives for development for developing countries:
- That family incomes should be adequate to provide a subsistence package of food, shelter, clothing and footwear.
- That jobs should be available to all family heads, not only because this will ensure that distribution of income will generally achieve subsistence consumption levels but also because a job is something without which personality cannot develop.
- That access to education should be increased and literacy ratios raised.
- That the populace should be given an opportunity to participate in government.
- That national independence should be achieved in ‘the sense that the views of other governments do not largely predetermine one’s own government’s decisions’. (Nixson in Colman and Nixson Economics of Change in Less Developed Countries)
There is explicitly in Seers a sequently aspect to this. As progress is made towards the economic goals, that is ‘undernourishment, unemployment and inequality dwindle’.. ‘educational and political aims become increasingly important objectives of development’.
Some of his more important works
- (1966) Twenty Leading Questions on the Teaching of Economics in The Teaching of Development Economics
- (1967) The Limitations of the Special Case, in Martin and Knapp, Teaching of Development Economics
- (1969) The Meaning of Development. International Development Review 11(4):3-4.
- (1970) New Approaches Suggested by the Colombia Employment Program, International Labour Review
- (1971) Development in a Divided World
- (1972) What are We Trying to Measure? Journal of Development Economics
- (1974) Redistribution with Growth (with Hollis Chenery)
- (1977) The New Meaning of Development, International Development Review
- (1977) Statistical needs for Development
- (1979) The Birth, Life and Death of Development Economics, Development and Change
- (1979) The Meaning of Development, with a Postscript.In Seers, Nafziger, Cruise O’Brien, & Bernstein
- (1979) with E. Wayne Nafziger, Donal Cruise O’Brien, & Henry Bernstein, Development Theory: Four Critical Studies. Ed. by David Lehmann. London:Frank Cass
- (1981) ed. Dependency Theory: A Critical Reassessment. London: Frances Pinter (Publishers) Ltd.
- (1983) The Political Economy of Nationalism. New York: Oxford University Press.
- Also Editor of several key journals, including Oxford Economic Papers, The Economic Journal, Journal of Development Studies and IDS Bulletin.
Dudley was married to Patrica Seers from which they had three daughters, Pauline, Andina, Susan and a son, Phillip. These in turn created 9 grandchildren.
He was appointed CMG in the 1975 Birthday Honours.
- British Library for Development Studies Dudley Seers archive
- Dudley Seers Memorial Lecture 'UN Ideas that Changed the World' delivered on 29 October 2009