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 2022-23:

Political Economy Courses in Government:
Gov 1004: Introduction to Political Economy. Peter Buisseret
GOV 1015: Strategic Models of Politics. Sarah Hummel
Gov 1759: Nudging for the Public Good. Michael Hiscox
Gov 1780: International Political Economy. William Clark
Gov 94EK: Globalization and Private Governance. Hiscox
GOV 94ND: Global Cities in East Asia. Nara Dillon
Gov 94OA: Inequality and American Democracy. Skocpol
Gov 94TR: The Politics of Economic Inequality. Remington

Political Economy Courses at HKS:
BGP-610: The Political Economy of Trade. Robert Lawrence
BGP 670 Financial Crises: Concepts and Evidence. Carmen Reinhart 
DEV-356 Economic Policy in Africa: Challenges and Opportunities. Celestin Monga
DEV-130 Why Are So Many Countries Poor, Volatile, and Unequal? Ricardo Hausman

Political Economy Course Options in Economics:
Econ 10a: Principles of Economics: Microeconomics
Econ 1010a/1011: Intermediate Microeconomics
Econ 1133 Authoritarian Superpower: The Political Economy of Modern China. David Yang 
Econ 1420: American Economic Policy. Summers & Liebman   
Econ 1535 The Global Economy. Pol Antras 
Econ 1746: Financial Crises and Recessions of the 21st Century. Dynan

Political Economy Courses in Previous Years:

GOV 94ACH: Politics of Inequality in Latin America. Alisha Holland  

GOV 94AU: Political Economy. Torben Iversen

GOV 94HG: The Politics and Political Economy in Latin America, Fran Hagopian

GOV 94PI: Politics of Development in Africa. Pia Raffler  

GOV 94JF: The Political Economy of Economic Growth: The Past Thousand Years. Jeffry Frieden  

GOV 94ND: Global Cities in East Asia. Nara Dillon

GOV 1015 Strategic Models of Politics. Sarah Hummel

GOV 1108: The Politics of Economic Inequality. Thomas Remington 

GOV 1135 Political Economy of Development in Africa. Pia Raffler

GOV 1171 Making of Modern Politics. Peter Hall

GOV 1203: Capitalism and Democracy in Central and Eastern Europe. Grzegorz Ekiert

GOV 1288: China’s Economic Development. Nara Dillon

GOV 1780: International Political Economy. Jeffry Frieden

GOV 1279: Political Economy of East and Southeast Asia

ECON 1450: The Political Economy of Religion. Robert Barro and Rachel McCleary   

ECON 1018: Cultural Economics. Alberto Alesina


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