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Development Policy


Module description

The aim of this module is to help you develop an understanding of the role of the state - of policy choices, institutions, the conflicting interests of different political actors and of the international environment - in economic development. It will be helpful to students planning to work in developing countries, whether in the private, public or non-profit sectors, and also for students who simply want to understand the various paths being taken by poor and emerging economies today. It uses concepts and literature from political science, economics and sociology, all in a non-technical way.

Each session will include both a lecture and a seminar. The seminar will focus on readings provided for that week, available online.

  • Introduction: development and state policy
  • Modernisation theory and political development: wealth demographics, education, institutions.
  • Is history everything? The colonial legacy and development today.
  • Is democracy or autocracy more conducive to the development of poor countries?
  • Is natural resource wealth a boon or a curse?
  • How easy resource wealth can corrupt the state and undermine other business activities, and what can be done about it.
  • Does foreign aid work?
  • Do externally imposed policies of stabilisation and structural adjustment work?
  • Industrial policy: from import substitution to export-led growth
  • De-centralised markets or state leadership?

Learning objectives

By the end of this module, you will be able to analyse development policy problems with regard to any of the following themes:

  • Development measures and purpose; winners and losers in the short run and the long run.
  • What is the appropriate role for the state? Setting rules of the road, guiding investment in public goods, or setting industrial strategy?
  • Problems of implementation: policy choices, institutions, resolving conflicting interests.
  • Factors affecting internal accountability of the state: democracy and autocracy; vertical and horizontal structures; civil society, elite networks, clientalism; particular and encompassing interests; short and distant planning horizons; state autonomy vs. embeddedness; rentier states and fiscal states.
  • Power and accountability imposed from outside: effects on development of empire; imperial legacies in national institutions; international institutions and markets; aid; structural adjustment; external partners in domestic rent seeking, tax havens, capital flight.