Political Economy of Reform

23 Pages Posted: 24 Oct 2017

See all articles by Stuti Khemani

Stuti Khemani

World Bank; World Bank - Development Research Group (DECRG)

Date Written: October 23, 2017


This paper reviews the literature relevant to understanding political constraints to economic reforms. Reform refers to changes in government policies or institutional rules because status quo policies and institutions are not working well to achieve the goals of economic well-being and development. Further, reforms refer to the alternative policies and institutions that are available that would most likely perform better than the status quo. The main question examined in the political economy of reform literature has been why reforms are not undertaken when they are needed for the good of society. The succinct answer from the first generation of research is that conflict of interest between organized socio-political groups is responsible for some groups being able to stall reforms so that they can extract greater private rents from status quo policies. The next generation of research is tackling a more fundamental question: why does conflict of interest persist; or, why do some interest groups exert influence against reforms if there are indeed large gains to be had for society? These are questions about norms and preferences in society for public goods. The next step is to examine where norms and preferences for public goods come from, and which institutional arrangements are more conducive to solve the public goods problem of pursuing reforms. After reviewing the available and future directions for research, the paper concludes with what all of this means for policy makers who are interested in understanding the factors behind successful reforms.

Keywords: Public Sector Fiscal Adjustment, Fiscal Adjustment, Youth and Governance, Government Policies, National Governance

Suggested Citation

Khemani, Stuti, Political Economy of Reform (October 23, 2017). World Bank Policy Research Working Paper No. 8224. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3057776

Stuti Khemani (Contact Author)

World Bank ( email )

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United States

HOME PAGE: http://econ.worldbank.org/staff/skhemani

World Bank - Development Research Group (DECRG)

1818 H. Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20433
United States

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