Burma 1951-1957: The Experience of Nathan Associates

After achieving independence in 1948, Burma (Myanmar since 1989) sought help formulating an economic development plan for the country. Economists from Robert R. Nathan Associates spent more than six years in Rangoon advising the Economic and Social Board and the Ministry of National Planning and helping devise a plan for Burma’s economic and social development, establish a sound tax system, and create efficient government services. For the first two years the U.S. government covered costs; from 1953 on, the firm worked directly for the Government of the Union of Burma.

Bob Nathan in BurmaThe magnitude of this technical assistance is evident in the firm's contributions to Burma's engineering and economic development plan of 1953, articles in local press, an excerpt from Louis Walinsky’s Economic Development in Burma 1951-1960, and a personal letter from former Prime Minister U Nu to Robert Nathan, written in April 1959 upon Nathan’s retirement from the chairmanship of Americans for Democratic Action (ADA).

Nathan Associates has long maintained its special interest in the modern history of Burma, and has been privileged to provide support to ASEAN, of which Myanmar is a member, through a series of regional projects. Now, as Myanmar emerges from its long isolation and the United States pursues principled engagement with the country, we are pleased to announce the publication of a white paper on the state of foreign aid in Myanmar,"Too Much, Too Soon? The Dilemma of Foreign Aid to Myanmar/Burma."  The authors, Lex Rieffel of the Brookings Institution and former USAID economist Jim Fox, discussed their findings at the Brookings Institution March 14, 2013.

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