January 09, 2014 | Contribution by
Joseph Stiglitz is a University Professor at Columbia University and Co-Chair of Columbia University's Committee on Global Thought
Maize researcher, Ukulima Farm, Limpopo, South Africa
Photo by: Joseph King
With job creation at center stage and new approaches avidly sought, Joseph Stiglitz's ground-breaking research on creating a learning society is already being much debated. The JKP recently sat down with him and asked how industrial policy and job creation fit into the picture. Stiglitz, who is University Professor Co-Chair of Colombia University’s Committee on Global Thought, stressed that it was tough for policymakers to decide ex-ante which sectors were most likely to have the greatest capabilities for learning and the greatest learning spillovers. But in the case of Africa, where much of the economy will still be in agriculture for a long time, it is important to ask: How can you make a more learning-oriented agriculture and how can you better educate farmers so that they can learn about new technologies, new seeds, and new markets? He also emphasized that one aspect of learning is being motivated by the possibility of a job. That means industrial policies and macro policies have to be linked together.
Stiglitz explored the learning society concept when he was the keynote speaker at the recent first World Bank Competitive Industries conference on "Making Growth Happen." He won the 2001 Nobel Prize in Economics for his analyses of markets with asymmetric information. Previously, he served as World Bank Senior Vice President and Chief Economist (1997- 2000) and Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers (1995-97).