The appointment in 2019 of Gita Gopinath as Chief Economist of the IMF is a milestone. She was born in India, in the state of West-Bengal – the same state where Amartya Sen was born. And she is the first woman in this position. Her appointment means that the chief economists of the world’s three most influential international economic institutions – IMF, World Bank, and OECD – are currently all women. Equally striking, but generally less noticed, is that more economists from the global south are appointed at top positions of important international economic policy institutions. One of Gopinath’s predecessors was Raghuram Rajan, the first in this position who was born in India . He became well known for his speech at the annual gathering of central bankers in Jackson Hole in the US in 2005. There he warned of the increasing instability of the global financial system. Equally well known is the dismissive response he received from the central bankers. These appointments signal two things about the field of economics today. First, that finally some demographic diversity is beginning to emerge, both in terms of gender and of geographic origin. I use the terms global north and global south recognizing that they overlap in the sense that we find poverty and social exclusion in the global north and elites in the global south. Second, that even though the top in the economics discipline largely remains male and white, it is in the policy world that diversity is now seriously making headway. Of all the Nobel Prizes in economics, only two have been awarded to a woman – Elinor Ostrom and Esther Duflo – and three to economists from the global south – Arthur Lewis, Amartya Sen and Abhijit Bannerjee. But in the policy world, the increasing complexity of the global economy has recently been paralleled by diversity among those responsible for policy research and policy making. Is this diversity limited to gender and geography, or does it also imply epistemic diversity, that is, pluralist economic perspectives? Is the diversity a trend or a coincidence? Or perhaps sheer necessity?

economics, global south, pluralism, gender, poverty, diversity, pluralism, standpoint theory, development economics, feminist economics
International Journal of Pluralism and Economics Education
This is the text of a keynote speech for the Rethinking Economics Festival in Amsterdam, 18 May, 2019
International Institute of Social Studies of Erasmus University (ISS)

van Staveren, I.P. (2020). Economic Perspectives from the Global South and Why they Matter for Economics Worldwide. International Journal of Pluralism and Economics Education, 11(1), 5–23. Retrieved from