The Role of Elites in Economic Development

book The Role of Elites in Economic Development cover
Elites have a disproportionate impact on development outcomes. While a country’s endowments constitute the deep determinates of growth, the trajectory they follow is shaped by the actions of elites. But what factors affect whether elites use their influence for individual gain or national welfare?

To what extent do they see poverty as a problem? And are their actions today constrained by institutions and norms established in the past? This book looks at case studies from South Africa to China to seek a better understanding of the dynamics behind how elites decide to engage with economic development. Approaches include economic modelling, social surveys, theoretical analysis, and programme evaluation. These different methods explore the relationship between elites and development outcomes from five angles: the participation and reaction of elites to institutional creation and change, how economic changes affect elite formation and circulation, elite perceptions of national welfare, the extent to which state capacity is part of elite self-identity, and how elites interact with non-elites.
1: Alisa DiCaprio: Introduction: The Role of Elites in Economic Development
Part I: Theoretical Considerations
2: the late Alice H. Amsden: Elites and Property Rights
3: James A. Robinson: Elites and Institutional Persistence
Part II: The Formation and Circulation of Elites
4: Andres Solimano and Diego Avanzini: The International Circulation of Elites: Knowledge, Entrepreneurial and Political
5: Johan Fourie and Dieter von Fintel: Fruit of the Vine? An Augmented Endowments-Inequality Hypothesis and the Rise of an Elite in the Cape Colony
6: Alison Wolf: Two for the Price of One? The Contribution to Development of the New Female Elites
7: Bjorn Gustafsson and Sai Ding: New Light on China’s Rural Elites
Part III: The Preferences of Elites
8: Elisa P. Reis: Poverty in the Eyes of Brazilian Elites
9: Chipiliro Kalebe-Nyamongo: Mutual Interdependence between Elites and the Poor
10: Xiaowei Zang: Why Are the Elite in China Motivated and Able to Promote Growth?
Part IV: Elites and State Capactiy
11: Francois Bourguignon and Thierry Verdier: The Simple Analytics of Elite Behaviour under Limited State Capacity
12: Thomas Cantens: Is it Possible to Reform a Customs Administration? The Role of the Customs Elite on the Reform Process in Cameroon
13: Monica Pinhanez: Rekindling Governments from Within: Getting Public Sector Elite Officials to Support Government Reform in Brazil
Part V: Grassroots Responses to Elites
14: Sam Wong: Tackling Elite Capture by the ‘Counter-Elite’ and ‘Co-Opt-Elite’ Approaches in Bangladesh and Ghana
15: the late Alice H. Amsden and Alisa DiCaprio: Understanding the Dynamics of Elite Behaviour in a Development Context

Edited by the late Alice H. Amsden, Formerly Barton L. Weller Professor of Political Economy, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Alisa DiCaprio, Regional Cooperation Specialist in the Office of Regional Economic Integration, Asian Development Bank, and James A. Robinson, David Florence Professor of Government, Harvard University

Alice Amsden (now deceased) was Barton L. Weller Professor of Development Economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She authored Asia’s Next Giant and the Rise of ‘The Rest’. Most recently, she criticized the ‘capabilities’ approach to poverty alleviation, arguing that healthier and more educated job seekers cannot get jobs because there are none, and they cannot lower their subsistence wage any further. Some of her last work, alongside co-directing the UNU-WIDER research project and co-editing the resulting volume on the role of elites, was on a manuscript entitled ‘The Rational Revolution: Learning from Role Models, Deserting Deductive Theory’, which maintains that countries develop by studying what each other do, not from poring over Enlightenment propositions in their orthodox or modern manifestation.

Alisa DiCaprio joined the Asian Development Bank (ADB) in 2012 where she is a Regional Cooperation Specialist in the Office of Regional Economic Integration (OREI). She has a PhD in Urban Studies from MIT and an MA from Johns Hopkins University. Prior to joining ADB, she worked for the United Nations University World Institute for Development Economics Research (UNU-WIDER) in Helsinki, Finland. She did her post-doctoral fellowship at New York University’s Alexander Hamilton Center for Political Economy. In OREI, she is part of the Trade Team and works on issues including Aid for Trade, Free Trade Agreements and Least Developed Countries. Her research interests include fragile states, trade and development, and social protection.

James Robinson is David Florence Professor of Government at Harvard University and a faculty associate at the Institute for Quantitative Social Science. Professor Robinson studied economics at the London School of Economics, the University of Warwick, and Yale University. He previously taught in the Department of Economics at the University of Melbourne and the University of Southern California. Before moving to Harvard he was a Professor in the Departments of Economics and Political Science at the University of California at Berkeley. His main research interest is the political economy of development with a particular interest in Latin America and Sub-Saharan Africa.

the late Alice H. Amsden, formerly of Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA
Diego Avanzini, Latin American School of Social Sciences (FLACSO), Chile
Francois Bourguignon, Paris School of Economics, France
Thomas Cantens, World Customs Organization, Brussels
Alisa DiCaprio, UNU-WIDER, Finland
Sai Ding, University of Minnesota, USA
Dieter von Fintel, Stellenbosch University, South Africa
Johan Fourie, Stellenbosch University, South Africa
Bjorn Gustafsson, Goteborg University, Sweden
Chipiliro Kalebe-Nyamongo, University of Birmingham, UK
Monica Pinhanez, Brazilian School of Public and Business Administration, Brazil
Elisa P. Reis, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
James A. Robinson, Harvard University <>, USA
Andres Solimano, International Center for Globalization and Development, CIGLOB, Chile
Thierry Verdier, Paris School of Economics, France
Alison Wolf, King’s College London, UK
Sam Wong, University of Liverpool, UK
Xiaowei Zang, University of Sheffield, UK

More: United Nations University World Institute for Development Economics Research (UNU-WIDER)