OPHI’s Impact: A Ten-Year Retrospective. Opinion from Michael Spence

8 June, 2018

Much has changed in the years since OPHI was founded. And OPHI has been a central voice and player in many of these developments.

First, measuring economic and social progress (or its absence) using multiple measures that capture different aspects of the human condition is now widely accepted if not universally endorsed. Second, an earlier view that prosperity was based on tangible assets and wealth has been supplanted by a more accurate framework that places human development and the parallel building of effective institutions at the centre of poverty reduction and economic and social progress.

On the ground, as knowledge of the core elements and dynamics of growth and development widened, startling forward progress in poverty reduction and the expansion of opportunity has occurred. China, India, and Asia have grown to be systemically important and the future centre of the global economy as well as the principal sources of global growth in the present period.

Michael Spence received the 2001 Nobel Prize in Economics for his analyses of markets with asymmetric information. Senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and Philip H. Knight Professor and Dean, Emeritus, at the Graduate School of Business, Stanford University. Professor of Economics at the New York University Leonard N. Stern School of Business.

Of course, there is much left to do. And there are challenging trends in the distributional aspects of growth patterns in the past 15 years, in developing and developed economies, trends that have led to centrifugal economic, political, and social forces gaining ground.

By almost any standard, the most significant development in OPHI’s first decade has been the dramatic explosion in both opportunities and challenges associated with digital technologies and their impacts on connectivity, the availability of critical services, the structure of economies and employment, and even the growth options for earlier stage developing countries.

Finally, all growth and development patterns require major adjustment to make them collectively sustainable. This is of central importance to the world’s poor who are the most vulnerable to climate change, water scarcity, and a host of other potential failures. In OPHI’s multidimensional framework, indices that capture elements of sustainability have assumed an increasingly prominent place in the initiative.


Published in Dimensions Special Issue – June 2018


Photo Credits 

Michael Spence OPHI