The Role of Politics in Economic Development

Posted: 6 Jun 2008

See all articles by Peter Gourevitch

Peter Gourevitch

Graduate School of International Relations and Pacific Studies ; University of California, San Diego (UCSD)

Abstract

How have economic historians understood the role of politics in shaping country differences in economic development? An impressive recent literature can be sorted out according to the degree of "human agency" at work. At the low-agency end are perspectives that stress geography, which is unalterable, leaving little room for human action and hence no room for politics. At the other end are arguments stressing deliberate, self-aware actions, hence choice, hence a substantial role for politics. In between are arguments where some choice occurred in the past or at a specific moment, but little since then. What drives development? Two lines of argument are vigorously debated: explanations that stress human capital and explanations that stress institutions. Within each camp can be found variance on the degree of agency and hence on the role of politics. Both vary as well on how they envisage society and its interaction with both institutions and human capital.

Keywords: agency, institutions, human capital, choice, political development

Suggested Citation

Gourevitch, Peter A. and Gourevitch, Peter A., The Role of Politics in Economic Development. Annual Review of Political Science, Vol. 11, June 2008, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1141430

Peter A. Gourevitch (Contact Author)

University of California, San Diego (UCSD) ( email )

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Graduate School of International Relations and Pacific Studies ( email )

9500 Gilman Drive0519
Robinson Building
La Jolla, CA 0519
United States
858 534 7085 (Phone)
858 5343939 (Fax)

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