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Erik Steenfeldt Reinert (born 15 February 1949) is a Norwegianmarker economist, with development economics and economic history as his specialties.


Reinert was born in Oslomarker, attended the University of St. Gallenmarker in Switzerlandmarker (where he studied economics), Harvard Universitymarker (MBA), and Cornell Universitymarker (Ph.D.). Already during his studies, he spent time in Latin America, working with a community development project in the Peruvianmarker Andes, as well as in private industry. In 1972 he founded and later developed a small industrial firm (color sampling to the paint and automotive industries) in Bergamomarker, Italymarker. Adding production plants also in Norway and Finland, the company had become the largest of its kind in Europe when Reinert sold it in 1991.

Reinert then worked for the STEP group in Oslo (1991-1995) and later became Director of Research of the Norsk Investorforum, a think tank set up by large Norwegian corporations (1995-2000). He also held a part-time position at The Centre for Development and the Environment , a research institution established by the University of Oslomarker. In 2000, he became the Executive Chairman of The Other Canon Foundation, a small center and network for heterodox economics research. Since 2004, he is Professor of Technology Governance and Development Strategies at the Tallinn University of Technologymarker in Tallinnmarker, Estoniamarker. Since 2005, he also serves as Senior Research Fellow at, the new Oslo-based Norwegian Institute of Strategic Studies. He lectures in five languages.

Reinert’s research interests and publications focus around the theory of uneven development and the history of economic thought and policy. As a consultant, Reinert's emphasis is on industrial and economic policy, the preconditions and management of innovations, and the relations between financial and production capital.

Reinert’s ideas are controversial in libertarian and neo-liberal circles in Norway, but also in Marxist ones. Representatives of those views, accordingly, have challenged his arguments in the daily press and sparked an controversy about national economic development in Norway. His most recent English-language book, How Rich Countries Got Rich ... and Why Poor Countries Stay Poor (2007), has had a similarly discussion-raising effect internationally, as it has been widely noted, reviewed, and discussed as well. While only one review, in Prospect Magazine, was dismissive. many – including those from the developing countries – were positive and even those in publications generally opposed to Reinert’s framework, such as by Martin Wolf in the Financial Times, have been critical yet called the book an important contribution to the debate. Reinert was invited to present his book at the August 2007 Edinburgh International Book Festival in the context of the Baillie Gifford Series., and in November 2008 he received for it the annual Gunnar Myrdal Prize as best monograph in evolutionary political economy.

Selected publications

  • Techno-Economic Paradigms: Essays in Honour of Carlota Perez (2009), co-ed. London: Anthem.
  • How Rich Countries Got Rich ... and Why Poor Countries Stay Poor (2007), London: Constable.
  • The Origins of Economic Development. How Schools of Economic Thought have Addressed Development (2005), co-edited with KS Jomo. London: Zed / New Delhi: Tulika.
  • Global Økonomi. Hvordan de rike ble rike og hvorfor fattige blir fattigere (Global Economy. How the rich got rich and why the poor get poorer) (2004). Oslo: Spartacus. Serbian translation (2006) Belgrade: Cigoja.
  • Globalization, Economic Development and Inequality: An Alternative Perspective (2004), ed. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.

Downloadable recent working papers

  • "Development and Social Goals: Balancing Aid and Development to Prevent 'Welfare Colonialism'", United Nation Department of Economic and Social Affairs, DESA Working Paper No. 14, 2006. Portuguese translation in Oikos. Revista de Economia Heterodoxa 4(4), 2005, pp. 45–67. Download.
  • "Evolutionary Economics, Classical Development Economics, and the History of Economic Policy: A Plea for Theorizing by Inclusion" (2006). Download.
  • "The Qualitative Shift in European Integration: Towards Permanent Wage Pressures and a ‘Latin-Americanization’ of Europe?" (with Rainer Kattel), PRAXIS Working Paper No. 17/2004. Download.
  • "How Rich Nations got Rich. Essays in the History of Economic Policy" (2004). Download.


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