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Games Developing Nations Play (ECON 162, POLISCI 347A)


If, as economists argue, development can make everyone in a society better off, why do leaders fail to pursue policies that promote development? The course uses game theoretic approaches from both economics and political science to address this question. Incentive problems are at the heart of explanations for development failure. Specifically, the course focuses on a series of questions central to the development problem: Why do developing countries have weak and often counterproductive political institutions? Why is violence (civil wars, ethnic conflict, military coups) so prevalent in the developing world, and how does it interact with development? Why do developing economies fail to generate high levels of income and wealth? We study how various kinds of development traps arise, preventing development for most countries. We also explain how some countries have overcome such traps. This approach emphasizes the importance of simultaneous economic and political development as two different facets of the same developmental process. No background in game theory is required.

Course ID: 
217 161
Letter (ABCD/NP)