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Why do developing countries fail to adopt the institutions and policies that promote development? Join us for a seminar by Professor Barry Weingast on his latest work with co-authors Gary Cox and the late Douglass C. North.

About the Talk:

Why do developing countries fail to adopt the institutions and policies that promote development? The authors’ answer is the violence trap. Natural states prevent violence by providing rents to those with high violence potential. To create rents, however, they must limit entry, which hinders the development of a complex economy whose workings will be seriously disrupted by domestic conflict (raising the cost of fighting) and whose profits will be hard to confiscate (lowering the benefit). Thus, natural states’ policy of rent creation hinders the development of the sort of complex economies that would lower the expected payoff to fighting for control of the state. Empirically, the authors show that economic complexity (as measured by the Hidalgo-Hausmann index) strongly deters coups, even controlling for GDP per capita and level of democracy.

 About the Speaker:

Barry R. Weingast is the Ward C. Krebs Family Professor, Department of Political Science, and a Senior Fellow, Hoover Institution. He served as Chair, Department of Political Science, from 1996 through 2001. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Weingast’s research focuses on the political foundation of markets, economic reform, and regulation. He has written extensively on problems of political economy of development, federalism and decentralization, legal institutions and the rule of law, and democracy. Weingast is co-author of Violence and Social Orders: A Conceptual Framework for Interpreting Recorded Human History (with Douglass C. North and John Joseph Wallis, 2009, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press) and Analytic Narratives (1998, Princeton). He edited (with Donald Wittman) The Oxford Handbook of Political Economy (Oxford University Press, 2006). Weingast has won numerous awards, including the William H. Riker Prize, the Heinz Eulau Prize (with Ken Shepsle), the Franklin L. Burdette Pi Sigma Alpha Award (with Kenneth Schultz), and the James L. Barr Memorial Prize in Public Economics.