World Economic and Social Survey 2017

Reflecting on Seventy Years of Development Policy Analysis

image of World Economic and Social Survey 2017

The aim of WESS 2017 is to document the intellectual influence of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) through its flagship publication, World Economic and Social Survey (WESS) on its 70th Anniversary. First published in 1948, the Survey is the oldest continuous post-World War II publication of its kind that records and analyses the performance of the global economy and social development trends as well as offers relevant policy recommendations. WESS 2017 will highlight how well the Survey tracked global economic and social conditions, and how its analysis influenced and were influenced by the prevailing discourse during the past seven decades. It will also critically reflect on its policy recommendations and their influence on actual policy-making and the shaping of the world economy. Particular attention will be given to reflect on the lessons that a historical review of the policy analysis done by the Survey would provide for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.



Post-war reconstruction and development in the Golden Age of Capitalism

The present chapter examines the editions of the Surveys published during what is identified as the “Golden Age of Capitalism”, a period of economic prosperity extending from the end of the Second World War in 1945 to the early 1970s, when the Bretton Woods monetary system collapsed. The period marked the achievement of a high and sustained level of economic growth and high levels of (labour) productivity growth (particularly in Western Europe and East Asia) together with low unemployment. It was also associated with the emergence of new international institutions such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank as part of the Bretton Woods monetary system, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and the five Regional Commissions; the birth of many new nations as a result of decolonization; and the emergence of new mechanisms of international cooperation, such as the Marshall Plan for the reconstruction of Western Europe and in the 1960s, the strategy for the First United Nations Decade of Development.


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