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Francis Fukuyama
Democracy, Development & the Rule of Law
January 6, 2013

Albert O. Hirschman, 1915-2012

2012 saw the passing of a great development economist, Albert O. Hirschman, at the age of 97. Development economists spend their time these days performing randomized controlled experiments, in which a particular intervention like co-payments for mosquito bed nets are introduced into one group of villages and not into another matched set. This approach establishes […]

October 5, 2012

Democracy and Corruption

I want to make one correction to an assertion I made in my last blog post.  In it, I said that delivery of services like education and health care is something that “states accomplish, and not the institutions that check them.” This is a big overstatement.  The checking institutions actually play a big role in […]

October 2, 2012

The Strange Absence of the State in Political Science

It is a curious fact that in contemporary American political science, very few people want to study the state, that is, the functioning of executive branches and their bureaucracies. Since the onset of the Third Wave of democratizations now more than a generation ago, the overwhelming emphasis in comparative politics has been on democracy, transitions […]

September 20, 2012

Surveillance Drones, Take Two

A lot has happened since I last reported on my surveillance drone. My fleet has grown to three drones: in addition to the DJI quadcopter, I have a Bixler Sky Surfer equipped with a GoPro camera that can send a live video feed back to a base station. This is what’s called FPV, or “first […]

September 6, 2012
Aung San Suu KyiBurmademocracyMyanmar

What Myanmar Needs

The second leg of my recent trip took me from Mongolia to Myanmar (it’s not an easy itinerary getting from Ulaan Baator to Naypyidaw, believe me). I was there to teach a short course on private sector development with my former SAIS colleague Roger Leeds. This curriculum, which Roger and I have developed under the […]

September 2, 2012

Mongolia, Mining, and Malfeasance

I recently returned from a trip to Mongolia and Myanmar. The linking of these countries on the same itinerary was accidental, though they both actually have a lot in common: they border China and much of their recent foreign policy has been driven by a desire to get out from under Chinese domination. It’s not […]

May 28, 2012

China’s ‘Bad Emperor’ Problem

For more than 2000 years, the Chinese political system has been built around a highly sophisticated centralized bureaucracy, which has run what has always been a vast society through top-down methods.  What China never developed was a rule of law, that is, an independent legal institution that would limit the discretion of the government, or […]

May 8, 2012

The Two Europes

The Greek election on Sunday was a predictable disaster: the two mainstream parties, the socialist PASOK and the center-right New Democracy (ND), were displaced by new extremist parties that appeared on their right and left, including the left-wing Syriza and KKE (Communist) parties which won a quarter of the vote between them, and the right-wing […]

March 26, 2012

Acemoglu and Robinson on Why Nations Fail

Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson have just published Why Nations Fail, a big book on development that will attract a lot of attention. The latest fad in development studies has been to conduct controlled randomized experiments on a host of micro-questions, such as whether co-payments for mosquito bed nets improves their uptake. Whether such studies […]

March 4, 2012

James Q. Wilson, 1931-2012

I never studied with Jim Wilson while getting my degree in the Harvard Government Department, though he was there at the time. My contacts with him came later, when we served together on the President’s Council on Bioethics in the early 2000s, and as fellow members of the Board of Governors of the Rand Graduate […]

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