The political economy of public policy in comparative perspective

This course applies theoretical tools of comparative political economy to investigate the functioning of political institutions, political systems and the policymaking process, and their effect on public policies and on economic performance. We will draw from a literature that has been developed primarily to study developed countries, and will attempt to use it to think in broader comparative terms.

The purpose of this course thus is not to analyze the details of any specific policy adopted by a particular country, but rather to explain the outer features of public policies; that is, the common characteristics that systematically permeate those policies. These characteristics are qualities such as stability vs. volatility, flexibility vs. rigidity, coordination vs. coherence, decisiveness vs. resoluteness, overall quality and investment-related qualities, private vs. public regardedness, and balkanization. The analysis of these outer features developed in this course assumes that a country’s political institutions, together with the features of the specific policy issues are key determinants of the characteristics of public policies.