Political Economy of Developing Countries

One of the key questions in today’s world is why some countries and some regions are richer and/or have a higher level of well being than others. A great disparity is found across developing regions as well as between developed and developing countries. To better understand this puzzle, the course will focus mainly on East Asia and Latin America, which were at similar levels of development as recently as the early 1980s but are now at very different levels. Some attention will also be paid to Sub-Saharan Africa. Of course, each region is quite heterogeneous, so we will look at both regional averages and at the experiences of some individual countries. Explanations for the differences – and some similarities – will be sought in the political, economic, social, and cultural arenas within countries and in the external environment in which they operate. Since China has become a very important component of the external environment for developing countries, China will play a double role in the course. We will study it both as a rapidly developing nation in East Asia and as a key trade and investment partner for others.