Sir Richard Jolly pays tribute to Paul Streeten, former acting IDS Director

Published on 11 January 2019

Professor Paul Streeten, died peacefully earlier this month, aged 101, in his home in Princeton in the US. He was the acting Director of IDS in 1967-68, before Dudley Seers became Director.

As a young man Paul was active in underground left wing politics in Austria, his country of birth, but fled to England when the Nazi Anschluss occurred. After a period of internment in 1940, he joined a commando unit involved in the war in Italy and was badly wounded. After the war, he studied at Balliol, Oxford, where he was a pupil of Thomas Balogh, who became a strong influence in his thinking. He became a Fellow of Balliol in 1948.

Paul was Deputy Director-General of Economic Planning in DFID, (then the Ministry of Overseas Development) when the early ideas for IDS were given shape. After IDS he returned to Oxford to become Warden of Queen Elizabeth House. Subsequently, he joined the World Bank as a senior economic adviser – where he worked with Mahbub ul Haq and was responsible for the Bank’s work on Basic Needs. He then became director of Boston University’s World Institute for Development Economic Research where he stayed until his retirement.

Paul was one of Britain’s early and most influential post-war development economists, producing many articles on trade, investment and development, working with Gunnar Myrdal on Asian Drama, being founding editor of the journal World Development, writing First Things First: Meeting Basic Human Needs in the Developing Countries a book published by the World Bank for which he was a senior adviser and making many contributions to the UN, including UNDP’s Human Development Report.

IDS Research Associate Sir Richard Jolly said: ‘Paul was always a free thinker and careful analyst, challenging simplicities and questioning both orthodoxies and heterodoxies, with wit and style. With Anne his wife, he was a good friend of many of us in development’.

Frances Stewart, a trustee of IDS, with Sanjaya Lall, published in 1986, a festschrift volume, Theory and Reality in Development: Essays in Honour of Paul Streeten.

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