Thursday, 16 April 2015

Economics for Real People: “The violence trap”

Sorry to say that students are still away from university this week on Easter break (when aren’t they away, I hear you cry) so no session tonight with our friends from the Auckland Uni Economics Group. But here’s what they have for you next week:

Next week, during the time we our usually hold our seminars, the University is hosting Professor Barry Weingast, an internationally renowned expert on Political Economy, as part of the Dean’s Distinguished Speaker Series. Professor Weingast presents on The violence trap: Why democracy and rule of law fail in the developing world. As this looks to be a fascinating talk, we will not be holding an Economics Group seminar on April 23, instead inviting you to attend Professor Weingast’s presentation.

Note: You must register here if you wish to attend this talk. See below, or click here, to find out more.

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The violence trap: Why democracy and rule of law fail in the developing world

Presenter: Professor Barry Weingast

The violence trap is a new approach to the question of why developing countries fail to adopt the institutions and policies that promote development. Professor Weingast will show that the problem of violence is surprisingly prevalent in the developing world, with the typical country experiencing violent leadership turnover once every eight years. All countries must solve the problem of violence, but developed ones do so in very different ways than developing ones.
    The central difference is the level of economic integration. When integration is sufficiently high, violence is too costly, so political problems and policy dilemmas are nearly always solved peacefully. Violent leadership turnover is low. When economic integration is low, however, violence is often an attractive strategy in the face of problems and policy dilemmas.
    The violence trap creates a “catch-22”: investment in economic integration raises the costs of violence and therefore reduces its incidence; but in an environment with violence the necessary investments are too risky and fail to take place. Therefore most poor countries are trapped in an environment of violence and low growth.

About Professor Barry Weingast

Barry Weingast is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and the Ward C Krebs Family Professor in the Department of Political Science at Stanford University. He received a PhD in economics from the California Institute of Technology in 1977. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. 
    Barry Weingast’s research focuses on the political and legal foundation of markets. He has written extensively on problems of development, the rule of law, and democracy, including his book Violence and Social Orders: A Conceptual Framework for Interpreting Recorded Human History (with Douglass C North and John Joseph Wallis) which has been translated into Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, and Russian.

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