University of Missouri

Research

I am primarily interested in the way that politics influences long-run material prosperity in the developing world. My recent book, Dictating Development, suggests that colonial rule heavily structures success and failure around the world. Some colonial episodes left behind efficacious states and substantial human capital, while episodes did not, and these differential legacies explain subsequent variations in contemporary economic growth. In addition, foreign states shape development through global market shocks, international warfare, and foreign aid. Development, in short, is dictated as much by international forces as by domestic forces.

Most of my articles explore the complex effects that democracy has on long-run economic growth. A piece in the British Journal of Political Science (2004) shows that the sharp division in the existing statistical literature is due to a pronounced difference in democracy’s effect over time—a negative effect on economic growth in the 1960s, and a positive effect on growth in the 1980s. A second piece in the British Journal of Political Science (2006) suggests that democracy has a positive effect on economic growth in the African context (by acting as a constraint on corruption), but a negative effect in Latin America (by facilitating populist movements that endorse economically destabilizing policies). Other articles focus on how democracy ameliorates the negative economic effects of corruption, and yet can inhibit public savings in developmental states.

The full bibliography for "Colonialism and Democratization" (co-authored with Matthew Fails and published in the February 2014 issue of APSA - Comparative Democratization newsletter) is available for downloading.