Center for Philosophy, Politics, and Economics

Political Economy

The Political Economy and Institutions research cluster examines the interplay between politics and economics. It is a field of study that focuses on the ways in which political institutions, policies, culture, and geography interact in shaping the observed variation in economic and political outcomes across the globe. Shedding light on how legacies of the past shape contemporary economic, cultural, and political institutions can help us better understand the forces that generate persistence and as well the catalysts for change. Scholars working within political economy often also take into account the distribution of power and resources within a society and how these factors shape various institutions. 



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Will examine relationships and interactions among institutions, criminal actors, and violence. State-based institutions play an important role in explaining the level of disorganized or organized crime. Organized crime groups, in turn, influence both state-based institutions (for example, through corrupting officials) and other criminal activity, often by creating the “rules of the game” by which other criminals can act. Finally, both state-based and criminal actors and institutions influence the level of violence in society. Each of these three influences, and is influenced by, the others. This course offers the opportunity to better understand how these three factors relate to each other.

This interdisciplinary course provides an overview of some of the core conceptual tools used to analyze issues at the intersection of philosophy, politics, and economics (PPE). A range of theoretical topics are covered, including: game theory, property, markets, distributive justice, public choice theory, voting, and more. We will read classical and contemporary sources on these topics as well as explore their applications to contemporary social problems (including: climate change, healthcare rationing, price gouging, universal basic income, pharmaceutical regulations, and others).

Why are some societies rich and others poor? While typical answers emphasize proximate causes like factor accumulation, technological progress, and demographic change, weighing the shadow of history on contemporary economic performance occupies an increasing part of the agenda among growth and development economists. This course will critically survey the recent empirical literature highlighting the role of historical events and geographic endowments in shaping social, political, and cultural factors and the process of development.

Weighing the shadow of history on contemporary economic performance occupies an increasing part of the agenda among growth and development economists. This course will focus on recent contributions in the literature of the historical determinants of comparative development paying particular attention on how to integrate the use of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) in the research inquiry. The goal is to get you thinking about the big historical processes that have shaped the modern world. We will go over background concepts, critically review recent works and talk about new research designs, like that of spatial regression discontinuity.

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