Fall/Winter Timetable

POL443H1S L0201

Topics in Comparative Politics II

State and Development in Historical Perspective


What is the state’s role in economic development? What caused the industrial revolution, and why was Britain at its forefront? These questions have preoccupied social scientists and political practitioners alike since the nineteenth century, and the recent profusion of economic history research suggests that consensus remains as elusive as ever. Much of this literature takes an institutional approach, attributing north-western Europe’s economic precocity to “good” political institutions such as secure property rights. This argument has a distinguished pedigree, but its assumptions are increasingly at odds with the findings of historical scholarship. We will work together to bridge this gap, contrasting the work of historians, political scientists, and economists on the causes of European economic growth, and devoting particular attention to the role of the state in each. Although we will concentrate on the institutional approach and its critics, we will also examine other (including some complementary) explanations for European economic development, including colonialism, class structure, demography, culture, and ideas.


Stephan Haggard, Developmental States; others TBA.

Format and Requirements

One two-hour seminar per week. Participation, including weekly discussion questions 30%, response paper 30%, final research proposal 40%.