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What Should the World Bank Think about the Washington Consensus?


  • Williamson, John


The phrase "Washington Consensus" has become a familiar term in development policy circles in recent years, but it is now used in several different senses, causing a great deal of confusion. In this article the author distinguishes between his original meaning as a summary of the lowest common denominator of policy advice addressed by the Washington-based institutions (including the World Bank) and subsequent use of the term to signify neoliberal or market fundamentalist policies. He argues that the latter policies could not be expected to provide an effective framework for combating poverty but that the original advice is still broadly valid. The article discusses alternative ways of addressing the confusion. It argues that any policy manifesto designed to eliminate poverty needs to go beyond the original version but concludes by cautioning that no consensus on a wider agenda currently exists. Copyright 2000 by Oxford University Press.

Suggested Citation

  • Williamson, John, 2000. "What Should the World Bank Think about the Washington Consensus?," World Bank Research Observer, World Bank Group, vol. 15(2), pages 251-264, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:wbrobs:v:15:y:2000:i:2:p:251-64

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Baland, Jean-Marie & Dreze, Jean & Leruth, Luc, 1999. "Daily wages and piece rates in agrarian economies," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 59(2), pages 445-461, August.
    2. Bhatia, B,, 1992. "Lush Fields and Parched Throats: The political economy of Growndwater in Gujarat," Research Paper 100, World Institute for Development Economics Research.
    3. Lanjouw, Peter & Stern, Nicholas, 1998. "Economic Development in Palanpur over Five Decades," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198288329, June.
    4. Judith Heyer, 1992. "The role of dowries and daughters' marriages in the accumulation and distribution of capital in a South Indian Community," Journal of International Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 4(4), pages 419-436, July.
    5. Naresh Sharma & Jean Dreze, 1996. "Sharecropping in a North Indian Village," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 33(1), pages 1-39.
    6. Arindam Banik, 1993. "Structure of the Credit Market and its link with the other Markets-An Analysis of Village Survey Data in Bangladesh," Indian Economic Review, Department of Economics, Delhi School of Economics, vol. 28(1), pages 55-71, January.
    7. Bliss, C. J. & Stern, N. H., 1982. "Palanpur: The Economy of an Indian Village," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198284192, June.
    8. Martin Ravallion & Gaurav Datt, 1996. "India's Checkered History in Fight against Poverty: Are There Lessons for the Future?," Monash Economics Working Papers archive-33, Monash University, Department of Economics.
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