Robert Bates

Robert Bates
Harvard University | Harvard · Department of Government

PhD

About

125
Publications
34,517
Reads
How we measure 'reads'
A 'read' is counted each time someone views a publication summary (such as the title, abstract, and list of authors), clicks on a figure, or views or downloads the full-text. Learn more
6,436
Citations
Introduction
Finishing a book on the political economy of development in Medieval Europe and the post-imperial era. Beginning research into climate change and conflict/
Additional affiliations
June 1993 - July 2014
Harvard University
Position
  • Professor (Full)
Description
  • Teaching and research
Education
September 1964 - June 1969
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Field of study
  • Social Sciences

Publications

Publications (125)
Preprint
Full-text available
Inquiry-based modeling is essential to scientific practice. However, modeling is difficult for novice scientists in part due to limited domain-specific knowledge and quantitative skills. VERA is an interactive tool that helps users construct conceptual models of ecological phenomena, run them as simulations, and examine their predictions. VERA prov...
Chapter
The intelligent research assistant, VERA, supports inquiry-based modeling by supplying contextualized large-scale domain knowledge in the Encyclopedia of Life. Learners can use VERA to construct conceptual models of ecological phenomena, run them as simulations, and review their predictions. A study on the use of VERA by college-level students indi...
Chapter
Citizen scientists have the potential to expand scientific research. The virtual research assistant called VERA empowers citizen scientists to engage in environmental science in two ways. First, it automatically generates simulations based on the conceptual models of ecological phenomena for repeated testing and feedback. Second, it leverages the E...
Article
Full-text available
In the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries, many African states replaced authoritarian political regimes with competitive electoral systems; the economies of many also began to grow, some for the first time in decades. We argue that democratic reform led to economic growth, as did Acemoglu, Naidu, Restrepo and Robinson in an earlier pap...
Article
The roots of my fascination with politics and Africa run deep; so too does my need for clarity. The combination drove me into the professoriate. My research in Africa convinced me that modernization theory was wrong: The people I came to know in the field were sophisticated in their politics. Additional research convinced me that market-oriented ap...
Article
Capital structures social relations even in societies where kinship dominates economic and political life. This article explores the impact of differences in investment opportunities and risk structures to explain differences between kinship systems. The article uses the theoretical approach recommended in the "new institutional economics' to explo...
Article
We revisit Lipset's law, which posits a positive and significant relationship between income and democracy. Using dynamic and heterogeneous panel data estimation techniques, we find a significant and negative relationship between income and democracy: higher/lower incomes per capita hinder/trigger democratization. Decomposing overall income per cap...
Article
Africa experienced a wave of democratization over the past 20 years and this increase in democracy, we find, positively and significantly affects income per capita. Our dynamic panel data results suggest that countries only slowly converge to their long-run income values as predicted by current democracy levels, however. African countries may there...
Article
After briefly reviewing the new institutionalism, this article uses the history of political reform in Africa to test its key tenet: that power, if properly organized, is a productive resource. It does so by exploring the relationship between changes in political institutions and changes in economic performance, both at the macro- and the microleve...
Chapter
Introduction Whether in the guise of formal theory (e.g., Persson and Tabellini 2000) or empirical research (e.g., Acemoglu, Robsinson, and Johnson 2001), in the study of political economy, “institutions rule” (Rodrik, Subramanian, et al. 2002). If anyone can lay claim to being a founder of the new institutionalism, it would be Douglass North. In t...
Article
The risk of political predation impedes the achievement of economic prosperity. In this paper, we analyze how the risk of predation evolves in different political regimes. Formally, we look at the interaction between a government and citizens in which, in each period, the government has an option to predate. Citizens prefer governments that are com...
Article
Robert H. Bates and Steven Block focus on the political institutions and their effect on the relative political influence of rural producer. When rural dwellers constitute a large percentage of the national population, agricultural production tends to lie in the hands of a large number of small producers dispersed throughout the countryside. In add...
Article
I wish to thank Befekadu Degefe for his comments and criticisms of earlier versions of this paper. 1. “You have eaten me”: this wistful phrase—variously attributed to Yoruba or Lunda kings, upon assuming office—confirms the monarch’s recognition that he must subordinate his private needs to the obligation of public service. 2. Indicative is that in...
Article
Building on a recent analysis of total factor productivity growth in African agriculture, this paper revisits the political economy underpinnings of policies affecting agriculture. We examine the effect of institutional change on the productivity performance of African agriculture. Our central finding is that institutional change in the form of com...
Article
Full-text available
In the 1970’s there was a serious crisis in the world economy and a deep dissatisfaction with the state of economic theory. Between 1976 and 1979 Colombian economist Diego Pizano conducted a series of structured dialogues with some of the greatest economists of the second half of the 20th century, with the aim of discussing this situation. His proj...
Article
This article attempts to specify Bienefeld's position, to critique it, and to posit an agenda for research. Bienefeld's position is characterised as holding that international determinants of the African economies are far more important than domestic ones; that prices, particularly international prices, offer misleading signals for allocational cho...
Article
Full-text available
This paper uses new data on agricultural policy interventions to examine the political economy of agricultural trade policies in Sub-Saharan Africa. Historically, African governments have discriminated against agricultural producers in general (relative to producers in non-agricultural sectors), and against producers of export agriculture in partic...
Article
In the last decades of the twentieth century, the rate of civil war and state failure in Africa rose precipitously. In an effort to comprehend the reasons for the rapid rise of political disorder, the author advances a model that isolates the conditions under which rulers will serve as guardians and civilians disarm, arguing that these conditions s...
Article
State failure is characterized by government predation and the militarization of civic society. Drawing on data from the study of civil war, state failure, and violence, this article explores the roles of per capita income, ethnicity, and democratization. It argues that public revenues are more relevant to state failure than are private incomes; th...
Book
Full-text available
The period from 1960 to 2000 was one of remarkable growth and transformation in the world economy. Why did most of Sub-Saharan Africa fail to develop over this period? Why did a few small African economies succeed spectacularly? The Political Economy of Economic Growth in Africa, 1960–2000 is by far the most ambitious and comprehensive assessment o...
Article
Introduction: When imposing a control regime, a government seeks to displace the market as the primary agency for governing the economy. Either by manipulating the structure or operation of markets, or by replacing private markets with public bureaucracies, it seeks to shape the way in which land, labor, and capital are allocated; commodities produ...
Article
This article studies the role of the state in development. It provides a review of the relevant literature and gives a distinctive argument that highlights areas suitable for empirical investigation. One of these areas is the politics that descend into predation, while the others turn developmental. It determines the conditions under which the prov...
Article
In the later decades of the 20th century, Africa plunged into political chaos. States failed, governments became predators, and citizens took up arms. In When Things Fell Apart, Robert H. Bates advances an explanation of state failure in Africa. In so doing, he not only plumbs the depths of the continent's late-century tragedy, but also the logic o...
Article
Full-text available
Africa and Latin America secured independence from European colonial rule a century and half apart: most of Latin America by the 1820s and most of Africa by 1960. Despite the distance in time and space, they share important similarities. In each case independence was followed by political instability, violent conflict, and economic stagnation lasti...
Book
Full-text available
With more than a billion people now living on less than a dollar a day, and with eight million dying each year because they are simply too poor to live, most would agree that the problem of global poverty is our greatest moral challenge. The large and pressing practical question is how best to address that challenge. Although millions of dollars fl...
Article
Full-text available
In the last decade of the 20 th Century, Africa joined the Third Wave of Democratization. Military regimes gave way to civilian governments, and no- and single-party systems to competitive political systems. The paper describes this transition; presents and evaluates two of the major explanations of it; and examines its impact on the policy choices...
Article
Introduction: In his chapter on Ethiopia in volume 2, Alemayehu Geda contends that in addition to the “vagaries of nature,” growth performance in Ethiopia “is largely determined by [the] strength and efficiency of institutions, [the] efficacy of public policies, and risk related to war” (Alemayehu 2007: 2). Of these factors, Alemayehu emphasizes th...
Article
Introduction: We have seen that Africa's geography has distinctively shaped its opportunities. Two-thirds of Africa's population live in countries that are either dominated by natural resource wealth, or are landlocked and resource-scarce. Both of these conditions are difficult to cope with, and both are far more common in Africa than in other part...
Book
The period from 1960 to 2000 was one of remarkable growth and transformation in the world economy. Why did most of Sub-Saharan Africa fail to develop over this period? Why did a few small African economies succeed spectacularly? The Political Economy of Economic Growth in Africa, 1960-2000 is by far the most ambitious and comprehensive assessment o...
Article
Full-text available
Africa and Latin America secured their independence from European colonial rule a century and half apart: most of Latin America after 1820 and most of Africa after 1960. Despite the distance in time and space, they share important similarities. In each case independence was followed by political instability, violent conflict and economic stagnation...
Article
Full-text available
Przeworski et al. (2000) challenge the key hypothesis in modernization theory: political regimes do not transition to democracy as per capita incomes rise, they argue. Rather, democratic transitions occur randomly, but once there, countries with higher levels of GDP per capita remain democratic. We retest the modernization hypothesis using new data...
Article
In late-century Africa, domestic reformers and the international community prescribed political reform as a means for securing policy reform. They sought to put an end to single party and military government and introduced multiparty politics. Using a principal agent framework, the author assesses the logical validity of these efforts. And employin...
Article
Rational choice and formal theory have gained increasing prominence in comparative politics. Grounded in deductive logic, this analytic turn has often been perceived to be at odds with historical and case-oriented methodologies. The innovation of the three books under review lies in their claim that rigorous analytic techniques are in fact compleme...
Article
In the developing areas, politics is often undemocratic, states lack a monopoly over violence, and politicians play upon cultural identities. To analyze politics in such settings, we develop a model in which politicians compete to build a revenue yielding constituency. Citizens occupy fixed locations and politicians seek to maximize rents. To secur...
Article
Full-text available
We estimate hypothetically optimal allocations of infrastructure investments. These optimal allocations are then compared to actual distributions to generate a measure of economic distortion, called "inßuence costs." Next we examine the extent to which these costs can be attributed to political inßuence on public-capital expenditure decisions. Thus...
Article
Full-text available
Ethnicity plays an ambiguous role in the great transformation. On the one hand, ethnicity creates: by providing incentives that organize the flow of resources across generations, it provides the capital for urban migration and the acquisition of skills for industrial employment. On the other hand, ethnicity destroys: ethnic conflict leads to costly...
Article
This article is based upon a key speech that Professor Robert Bates gave at the 13th Annual Conference of the Association of Chinese Political Studies (ACPS) held in Bethesda, Maryland between October 17–18, 1998. Professor Bates observes that there is a sense of crisis among comparative political scientists and central to their concerns is an appa...
Article
Full-text available
African and African American Studies Government
Article
In the 1980s, international capital markets nearly collapsed. In an effort to revive international lending, bankers and diplomats created new institutions and reformed old ones. And in an effort to become creditworthy, developing countries altered their economic policies and their structures of government.
Article
Full-text available
Coffee is traded in one of the few international markets ever subject to effective political regulation. In Open-Economy Politics, Robert Bates explores the origins, the operations, and the collapse of the International Coffee Organization, an international "government of coffee" that was formed in the 1960s. In so doing, he addresses key issues in...
Article
African Studies, contrary to some accounts, is not a separate continent in the world of American higher education. Its intellectual borders touch those of economics, literature, history, philosophy and art; its history is the story of the world, both ancient and modern. This is the clear conclusion of "Africa and the Disciplines", a book that addre...
Article
Given the nature of developing societies, the study of developmental politics becomes, in important respects, the study of rural politics. Moral economists link agrarian institutions to rural values and thereby account for the revolutionary behavior of peasants. This article presents and critiques their arguments, showing where they are wrong—and w...
Article
I study a budget-constrained, private-valuation, sealed-bid sequential auction with two incompletely-informed, risk-neutral bidders in which the valuations and income may be non-monotonic functions of a bidder's type. Multiple equilibrium symmetric bidding functions may exist that differ in allocation, efficiency and revenue. The sequence of sale a...
Article
Full-text available
McNollgast's (1994) theory on legislative intent is argued as an exercise in textual interpretation. Possible weaknesses in the application of this theory are highlighted.
Article
African Studies, contrary to some accounts, is not a separate continent in the world of American higher education. Its intellectual borders touch those of economics, literature, history, philosophy, and art; its history is the story of the world, both ancient and modern. This is the clear conclusion of Africa and the Disciplines, a book that addres...
Article
Focusing on non‐conforming cases, the articles in this special issue abandon the method of stylised facts and highlight instead variation over space and time. In so doing, they detect errors of commission and omission in the earlier literature on urban bias. They call for a focus on the economic role of political institutions, the political role of...
Article
We return to the literature on collective villages and reexamine its central arguments. In doing so, we focus on an institution for allocating land that we call the Rule. As claimed by its advocates, the Rule secures land allocations that result in outcomes differing from those that would be achieved by markets. The outcomes are not constrained to...
Article
A central theme of this book is the importance of political institutions, as opposed to markets, in channeling competing private interests into collective social outcomes. It explores the links between changing political demands and the changing structure of Kenya's agrarian economy during the period from the Mau Mau rebellion of the 1950s to the d...
Article
Full-text available
An analysis of a small sample of countries shows that the higher the level of terms-of-trade risk that a nation faces in international markets, the more likely it is to increase barriers. The analysis also shows that the greater the availability of social insurance program mounted by a nation's government, the less likely it is to block free trade....
Article
We return to the analysis of cooperation among interdependent rational individuals. We emphasize the limited impact of iteration (or repeated play) and explore the possibility of an alternative: intervention by rational agents, whom we call leaders. We show that leadership is more significant for initiating cooperation than for sustaining it. In ad...
Article
Theories of development are derived from readings of history. Modern historical research challenges many of the basic beliefs about how economies develop. More specifically, recent research suggests that the lessons drawn from the history of industrialization in England are highly misleading. The article thus challenges the empirical foundations fo...
Article
Full-text available
African and African American Studies Government
Article
Full-text available
In recent decades, international commodity agreements have been proposed as a way of promoting “development." Behrman, McNicol and others have analyzed them from a purely economic point of view. Fisher, Krasner, and others have adopted a more political perspective. In this article, we seek to advance the political analysis of such agreements. We do...
Article
I study a budget-constrained, private-valuation, sealed-bid sequential auction with two incompletely-informed, risk-neutral bidders in which the valuations and income may be non-monotonic functions of a bidder's type. Multiple equilibrium symmetric bidding functions may exist that differ in allocation, efficiency and revenue. The sequence of sale a...
Article
Full-text available
This article proposes a model representing the relationship between economic actors and revenue seeking governments. Given a need for revenues, the model predicts the allocation of the new tax burden and patterns of control over public policy. The model is motivated by the history of the rise of parliaments in Western Europe. It is extended to urba...
Article
This research note develops a model of the institutional features of the international coffee agreement and analyzes the allocation of export quotas under the terms of the agreement in 1982. It suggests that the agreement can be viewed as a weighted majority voting game. It employs the assumption of rationality to predict how allocations should be...
Article
Full-text available
Rural insurrections in Third World nations transformed the study of agrarian politics into a recognized subfield of political development. They also discredited prevailing development theories and while rendering development studies a subfield of political economy. This essay reviews the major approaches to the study of agrarian politics. It emphas...
Article
The paper presents a critical review of two major approaches to the analysis of agrarian societies in light of evidence taken from the scholarly literature on Africa. The first approach posits the existence of “natural” societies; the second, of “peasant” societies. The existence of such “precapitalist” societies is often invoked to account for pat...
Article
Hart Keith , The Political Economy of West African Agriculture. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1982. 226 pp. Illus. Bibio. $34.50 hardcover; $12.95 paperback. - Volume 26 Issue 2 - Robert H. Bates
Chapter
Those who approach the study of the developing areas from an anthropological and economic perspective tend to talk past each other. This essay attempts to demonstrate that such a state of affairs only threatens the loss of mutually valuable insights. It attempts to do so by applying one of the basic models in political economy to one of the classic...
Article
Food policy in Africa is derived policy; it is developed in an effort to solve the political and economic problems of persons other than fanners. Food policy is employed to obtain peaceful relations between governments and their urban constituents and to secure the allegiance of powerful elites. A major consequence is the transformation of social a...
Article
The paper describes agricultural policies in Africa and seeks to account for them. Agricultural policy is defined as that set of decisions and choices by governments which influence the prices farmers face in the markets which determine the real value of their incomes. These include the markets for the commodities produced by farmers, the goods whi...
Article
In interpreting these results, we can make use of several characteristics of the economies of the developing nations. The first is that consumers in poor nations spend a very large portion of their incomes on food — in many cases, in excess of 50 to 60 percent. The second is that specialization in the developing economies appears to have proceeded...

Network

Cited By