Political Economy of Development: Past, Present and Future

5 Pages Posted: 12 Aug 2020

See all articles by Padmashree Gehl Sampath

Padmashree Gehl Sampath

Harvard University-Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society; Department of Social Sciences

Date Written: July 11, 2020


The global economy is at a crossroads. As countries struggle to find solutions for slowing economic growth and languishing development prospects, received wisdom on development is increasingly coming under scrutiny. What is development? What are the factors that dictate its success or failure? Why have so many countries not managed to achieve overall developmental goals despite decades of policy intervention?

This course is designed to address many of these questions and will focus on developing a critical understanding amongst students regarding:
(a) the confluence of factors that jointly account for development, and the variety of interactions between them;
(b) the political determinants of development: the state, markets, and governance regimes;
(c) the central role of institutions in explaining under-development, with implications for reframing policies and frameworks;
(d) along with an exploration of alternative ways of thinking about development triumphs and failures of the past.

It will begin by giving the students a broad view on the political economy of development, which refers to the economic, legal, political, social and other factors that affect development in different contexts. It will then focus on unpacking the ideas, theories and frameworks that have influenced the way scholars, policy makers and analysts think of development over the course of the past century, and how these have shaped the emergence and the construction of the international economic order. By reviewing the undercurrents that led to the formation of key international institutions, and the dominant policy prescriptions that followed, the course will critically analyse the observed trajectories of countries that managed to catch-up, and those that did not, with a view to deconstructing what worked, and what did not, in different contexts, and how that can inform our view of the future.

The course is designed as a ten-week course (40 hours in total), with two guest speakers.

Keywords: political economy, development, catch up, economic governance, inequality, institutions, policy design

JEL Classification: B15, B55, O1, O14, O15, O19, O20, O30, O35, O38, O57, P52

Suggested Citation

Gehl Sampath, Padmashree, Political Economy of Development: Past, Present and Future (July 11, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3650183 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3650183

Padmashree Gehl Sampath (Contact Author)

Harvard University-Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society ( email )

23 Everett Street
Cambridge, MA 02139
United States

Department of Social Sciences ( email )

Fredrik Bajers Vej 7E
Aalborg, DK-9220

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