DP9997 Under the Thumb of History? Political Institutions and the Scope for Action
|Author(s):||Abhijit Banerjee, Esther Duflo|
|Publication Date:||June 2014|
|Keyword(s):||determinism, political economy|
|Programme Areas:||Development Economics|
|Link to this Page:||cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=9997|
This paper discusses the two leading views of history and political institutions. For some scholars, institutions are mainly products of historical logic, while for others, accidents, leaders, and decisions have a significant impact. We argue that while there is clear evidence that history matters and has long-term effects, there is not enough data to help us distinguish between the two views. Faced with this uncertainty, what is a social scientist to do? We argue that given the possibility that policy decisions indeed make a difference, it makes sense to assume they do and to try to improve policymaking.