Institutions vs policies: Interview of Peter Henry Blair..

IMF’s Finance and Development Dec-2013 edition profiles Prof. Peter Blair Henry of NYU.

Always interesting to read these interviews to get perspective on research:

As a child in Jamaica, Peter Blair Henry would watch in quiet puzzlement as a woman from the neighborhood came to his grandmother’s gate from time to time, asking for food. He wondered why his family always had enough to eat while this woman, with her matted hair and distended belly, did not.

This contrast between the haves and the have-nots became even starker a few years later, when Henry emigrated with his parents to the United States, landing in the comfortable Chicago suburb of Wilmette. Seeing only affluence around him, the nine-year-old Henry was deeply stirred by the fact that people were so much better off in the United States than they were back home. This fundamental question of development—why standards of living vary from country to country and what can be done about it—has been a “personal obsession” ever since, Henry says.

Now dean of the Leonard N. Stern School of Business at New York University (NYU) in the heart of New York City, Henry has come a long way from the rural Jamaica of his youth.

Striding into NYU’s Henry Kaufman Management Center across the street from Washington Square Park on a beautiful fall morning, he displays an easy rapport with security guards, students, and professors alike. As he passes through the lobby, he eschews the elevator and takes the stairs to his office instead. All 10 flights.


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