Hans Walter Singer, 1910-

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The German-born Hans Singer was trained by Schumpeter and Spiethoff at Bonn, before gravitating to Cambridge, where he trained under Keynes. It was under Keynes, that he produced his early surveys on unemployment (1937, 1940). In 1947, Singer moved onto the United Nations, with which he would be associated for much of his career (he had a simultanous appointment at the New School). His famous 1950 empirical paper assessing the "costs" of international trade for developing countries caused a furor in the profession - bringing him into the firing range of leading trade theorists such as Viner and Haberler.

What has since become known as the "Prebisch-Singer" thesis (as R疼l Prebisch independently argued it), became all the rage in both development theory and development practice as import substitution strategies were advocated and pursued by Third World countries. Singer expanded upon his initial findings to develop Nurkse's theory of "balanced growth", where countries pursued a strategy of development in which all sectors of the economy grew proportionately without turning countries into one-industry economies. This necessitated tearing away from the core-periphery relationships implied trade and export-orientation development. Singer later muted his doubts by regarding industrialization as ultimately, a good thing and arguing that export orientation was could be beneficial if the terms of trade were not unfavorable. He has remained a lifelong advocate of foreign aid to developing countries - sharing none of the conventional qualms of the impact of direct food aid on local production.

Like Prebisch and Myrdal, with whom he is often associated, Singer was highly influential upon the Neo-Marxist development theorists such as Paul Baran and A.G. Frank, without counting himself among them.

Major Works of Hans W. Singer

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