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State Capacity: A Political Economy Approach

April 7, 2016

In this lecture Daron Acemoglu argues that political economy aspects of building state capacity, though generally ignored, are potentially more important. First, he argues using examples and theoretically that unchecked power of the state and the political elites in control of state institutions hinders the development of state capacity, which is instead stimulated when civil society and state have balanced powers that co-evolve over time. Second, he suggests that political elites may often shy away from state building because of the different political dynamics that the presence of state institutions will generate, particularly when these dynamics are expected to reduce their political control. Based on these ideas, he proposes a new theory of state building and of the relationship between states and individual rights.