Political Economy

Faculty Chairs: Jeff Frieden & Torben Iversen

Political economy is the study of how politics affects the economy and how the economy in turn shapes politics. Training in political economy can help students understand how societies work; a useful skill whether they seek to become better policy analysts or more effective social reformers (Frieden 2020).

Topics in political economy include inequality (across class, gender, race, ethnicity), redistribution, economic development, globalization, macroeconomic policy, economic crises, populism, and environmental policy.  For example, the last four decades have seen a sharp rise in inequality in rich democracies, yet government redistribution has not risen; why? Technological change has produced greater inequality and concentration of wealth; what role do governments play in amplifying or countering these trends? Why do some countries grow at a much faster pace than others? Trade has risen sharply for decades, but it is now under political attack; why? China has emerged as an economic superpower; what are the consequences for international politics? Women have been economically mobilized across the world over the past four decades; what are the political implications?

The Government Department’s political economy program offers a thorough introduction to theoretical approaches to political economy and important empirical cases among the advanced industrial countries and the developing world. It provides training for a broad range of careers in government, finance, international organizations, and think tanks. The program is also good preparation for applying to business schools, law schools, and graduate programs in political science and economics.

Requirements: Students must take three Government courses in political economy from the following list of designated political economy courses, including at least one Gov 94 undergraduate seminar.  In addition, they must take at least one course in Economics from the following list of courses. All four courses for the political economy program must be taken for a letter grade (except for courses taken during Spring 2020, when emergency satisfactory/unsatisfactory grading was in effect). Working with their concentration advisers and faculty mentors, students develop their own Plans of Study to identify their academic goals and to select their courses accordingly.

Possible Areas of Focus:  In formulating their Plans of Study, students can choose to focus on specific aspects of political economy, such as international political economy, economic development, or inequality. 


Political Economy Courses in Government 2020-21:

Gov 94ek: Globalization and Private Governance. Michael Hiscox

Gov 94rg: A Revolt against Globalization? How Political Economies Change. Peter Hall

Gov 94nd: Global Cities in East Asia. Nara Dillon

Gov 94oa: Inequality and American Democracy. Theda Skocpol

Gov 94tr: Inequality. Thomas Remington

Gov 1015: Strategic Models of Politics. Sarah Hummel

Gov 1135: Political Economy of Development in Africa. Pia Raffler

Gov 1171: The Making of Modern Politics. Peter Hall

Gov 1759: Nudging for the Public Good. Michael Hiscox

GOV 1780: International Political Economy. Jeffry Frieden


Political Economy Course Options in Economics:

Econ 10a: Principles of Economics: Microeconomics. Jason Furman & David Laibson

Econ 1450: The Political Economy of Religion. Robert Barro & Rachel McCleary   

Econ 1420: American Economic Policy. Lawrence H. Summers & Jeffrey Liebman  

Econ 1746: Financial Crises and Recessions of the 21st Century. Karen Dynan

Econ 980b:  Education in the Economy. Lawrence Katz, Claudia Goldin

Econ 1084: The Causes and Consequences of Inequality. David Deming


Applying: Concentrators should complete the Political Economy plan of study supplement, review it with their concentration adviser, and submit the completed form to the Government Department Undergraduate Coordinator, Karen Kaletka