William Easterly is Professor of Economics at New York University, joint with Africa House, and Co-Director of the NYU Development Research Institute. He is also a non-resident Fellow of the Center for Global Development in Washington, D.C. Easterly received his Ph.D. in Economics at MIT and spent sixteen years as a Research Economist at the World Bank. He is the author of The White Mans Burden: How the Wests Efforts to Aid the Rest Have Done So Much Ill and So Little Good (Penguin, 2006), The Elusive Quest for Growth: Economists' Adventures and Misadventures in the Tropics (MIT, 2001) and over 50 published articles. Easterly's areas of expertise include the determinants of long-run economic growth and the effectiveness of foreign aid. He has worked in most areas of the developing world, but most notably in Africa, Latin America, and Russia. Easterly is an associate editor of the Quarterly Journal of Economics, the Journal of Economic Growth, and of the Journal of Development Economics.
I think a life well lived is one where you combine a desire to help other people, and to put your skills and your talents at the service of other people that you want to see helped, whose problems you want to see alleviated. Combined with kind of a ruthless, intellectual honesty that you are not going to be intellectually lazy and go in for kind of the clichéd solutions, the tried and true clichés that have always been repeated but have never been actually tested to see whether they worked or not. That you resist clichés. You resist tired, old formulas. And you’re intellectually honest about what works, what doesn’t work. You’re pragmatic. You’re fiercely pragmatic about what works. And you confront the bad news when you need to when something’s not working, and you try to fix it.
Recorded On: 7/6/07