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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.

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The end of the Golden Age, the debt crisis and development setback

The decade of the 1970s began with unexpected global economic turmoil after a long stretch of economic stability and robust growth in the earlier post-war period. It also witnessed the breakdown of the post-Second World War consensus on the global economic governance architecture, as embodied in the Bretton Woods system of fixed exchange rates and gold convertibility of the United States dollar. In addition, there were two oil price shocks and the persistence of high inflation and unemployment—referred to as stagflation—in several developed countries.

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