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Do-it-yourself and nirvana economics

Revisiting the academic contributions of P D Henderson and H Demsetz

Deepak Lal
Illustration: Binay Sinha
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Illustration: Binay Sinha

In the last few months, two old friends and economist colleagues whose work deserves to be better known in India died.
The first, P D (David) Henderson died at the end of September aged 91. In a varied career, he was an Oxford don, economic advisor to the UK Treasury and chief economist at the UK aviation ministry before becoming director of the World Bank’s Economics Department in 1971. That was when I first met him when he was visiting Nuffield College Oxford, where I was a research fellow completing a book on a cost-benefit study of small-scale irrigation in Maharashtra (Wells and Welfare, OECD, 1972). 
As David was keen to promote a systematic analysis of the Bank’s main business of financing public investment projects at the time, he asked me to come and spend some summers in his department writing a short book (Methods of Project Analysis, Johns Hopkins,1974) appraising the alternative methods o
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First Published: Apr 24 2019 | 12:17 AM IST

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