Records of President Robert S. McNamara
- WB IBRD/IDA EXC-10
- 1968 - 1981
Robert S. McNamara became World Bank President on April 1, 1968 and served 2 full five year terms and a partial term, leaving on June 30, 1981. The records are a very full account of his long and active presidency. Every part of the world is reflected in these records, as well as virtually every economic issue of the 1970s. Any student of the Bank during the McNamara years will find reading these records an essential first step for research.
When McNamara came to the World Bank, it was lending about $1 billion per year. When he left in 1981, Bank lending stood at about $12 billion a year. In addition to the dramatic increase in volume of loans, he refocused Bank lending beyond infrastructure and projects to basic human needs and poverty reduction. Using the term absolute poverty, his annual meeting speech in Nairobi in 1973 marked a turning point by identifying promoting rural development and alleviating the conditions of life to the poor as crucial development goals. He identified population growth as a major issue for the Bank to address and the Bank began proving support for family planning programs. The Bank also began providing loans for pollution control.
McNamara proposed the formation of the Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), which makes major contributions to increasing global food production and reducing hunger. He mobilized Bank resources to launch an international onchocercieasis (river blindness) control program. He initiated two international commissions to examine world development: the Pearson Commission in 1968 and the Brandt Commission in 1977. The Joint Ministerial Committee of the Board of Governors of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund on the Transfer of Real Resources to Developing Countries, usually known as the Development Committee, was established in 1974 to support international cooperation in development activities and coordination of international efforts in finance development, and to provide advice to the Board of Governors of the Bank and the Fund on all aspects of the transfer of real resources to developing countries. And in 1978 the World Development Report was launched, the Bank's flagship publication on development issues.
Records of all these activities can be found in the records of the McNamara presidency. An unusually large number of records are annotated by McNamara, providing unparalleled insight into the thinking and decision-making processes of the president.
The records also include files form assistants to the President, notably two series from economic adviser Irving S. Friedman that include his correspondence with both President George Woods and President McNamara.