Douglass North visits NUS Law School

The other week I have visited Bukit Timah Campus of National University of Singapore, where Lee Kwan Yew School of Public Policy and School of Law is located. On this day (11th of March) Douglass C. North (a nobel laureate of economics in 1993) was giving a speech on what he called “a natural state”. Overarching aim of his speech was to address the reasons why developing countries are “stuck” and why there is a huge dividing gap among the world’s well-offs and “have nots”. He coined the notion of natural state, which describes a Limited Access Society where elites with a lot of political power dominate country’s policy, path and the well being of its citizens. In this society most of the access to you is given based on “who you know” not “what you know”. Supposed opposite of this is Silicone Valley in California, where talent is able to achieve unimaginable levels of success based on pure merit. Entrepreneurship is thus a good example of state that is denoted as Open Access Society.

In addition to these in depth ideas, Prof. North talked about development as a more intrinsic process combining beliefs, time, culture, institutions and a sometimes imperfect functioning (or economically irrational) of these.

Overall it was a good lecture. Prof North is 87 years old but his mental skills and ability to engage the audience are still superb. The hall was packed tight and thus I am happy that I made my way to Bukit Timah that day.

On the final note, here are some pictures of the beautiful Bukit Timah campus. It was raining that day so in the midst rain I walked around the campus and took a few pics before my camera battery died.


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