POL3503: International Political Economy (Høst 2020)

Dragvoll Campus Rm. DR-LA DL32 / DR-D3 D136

(Mondays--12:15-16:00 hrs)



The relationship between international economics and international politics is interactive. Markets do not exist in a vacuum, nor are political processes and outcomes free of the influence of economic forces. This course examines how markets, states, and other social institutions interact to shape the global system of international economic relations, which in turn is a vital part of international relations in general because they concern questions of war and peace, development, social justice, the global environment and countless other related issues. The course examines major issues concerning development and underdevelopment, which is perhaps one of the most pressing concerns for understanding global stability and justice. The course examines the major theoretical bases for understanding IPE with a particular emphasis on the ongoing controversies surrounding the nature of North-South interaction and economic and political underdevelopment. What issues explain how and why poor countries remain poor? What factors have allowed some countries to become rich and democratic? What empirical issues remain unexplored, or empirically untested? What are the major global problems that require global-level policy to correct? The course will pay particular attention to how increasing liberalization of economics and politics influences societal outcomes in the developing world. The students are encouraged in their research projects to explore empirically testable hypotheses related to questions surrounding North-South interaction and political, economic, and social outcomes.


Objective of course:

To gain insight into the major theoretical bases of international political economy.

To understand the theoretical foundations and empirical realities surrounding some major debates on political and economic development (become familiar with reading quantitative articles in Political Science, Sociology and Economics)

To understand what perspectives from IPE bear on the dilemmas of developing countries (design testable propositions and use hard data to address research questions)




Grades are decided almost entirely on the project, which is a 20-25 page paper (roughly 8000-8500 words), typed (12 point font), double-spaced, and conforming to an accepted academic style. The question for the project must be justified on the basis of some theoretical or empirical problem encountered in the readings and discussions, or one discussed with the instructor. A one-page ‘problemstilling’ must be handed in to the instructor within 3 weeks of the first meeting. Additionally, all students are expected to write a 2-page book review assessing the arguments and evidence presented in Achen & Bartels (2017), Democracy for Realists, which will decide a borderline grade on the final oral exam. Note that an acceptable book review could decide an entire letter grade (10%). The following should serve as an example of writing a short review of a book (de Soysa. Review of International Organizations)


Books: Required reading


Seligson, Mitchell & John Passe-Smith. 2013. Development and Underdevelopment (fifth edition). Lynn Riener.

Acemoglu, Daron  and James Robinson. 2012. Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity and Poverty. London: Profile Books.

Easterly, William. 2007. The White Man’s Burden: Why the West’s Effort to Aid the Rest Have Done so Much Ill and So Little Good. Oxford.

Bueno de Mesquita, Bruce & Anthony Smith. 2011. The Dictator´s Handbook: Why Bad Behavior is Almost Always Good Politics. New York: Public Affairs.

Wenar, Leif. 2016. Blood Oil: Tyrants, Violence and the Rules that Run the World. Oxford University Press.

Achen, Christopher & Larry Bartels, 2017. Democracy for Realists: Why Elections do not Produce Responsive Government. Princeton, NJ. Princeton University Press.


Journal articles: A host of relevant articles will be made available through Blackboard.



All students should read the following very carefully when thinking about and writing their research projects 



Class meetings:


August 17: Introduction to course material & discussion-- The gap between rich and poor & its origins (Seligsen & Passe-Smith, parts 1 & 2;  139 pgs.)


August 24: Inequality, poverty & their consequences (Seligsen & Passe-Smith, parts 3 & 4; 92 pgs.)


A short introduction to DATA GATHERING & ANALYSIS IN STATA



August 31: Culture vs Dependency? (Seligsen & Passe-Smith, parts 5 & 6; 81 pgs)



September 07: Institutions & Geography (Seligsen & Passe-Smith, parts 7 & 8; 124 pgs.)


September 14: – Institutions and governance: Why Nations Fail?  (Acemoglu & Robinson, chs. 1-7;  212 pgs.)


one-page research question due


September 21: Why Nations Fail? cont… (Acemoglu & Robinson, chs. 8-15; 249 pgs.)



September 28: The Rich Can Help the Poor? The White Man´s Burden (Easterly, parts 1 & II; 211 pgs.)


October 05: The White Man´s Burden, cont… (Easterly, parts III & IV; 98 pgs.) --Book Review of Democracy for Realists due



October 12: Political Survival: Dictator´s Handbook  Chs. 1-6.




October 19: Political Survival: Dictator´s Handbook, chs. 7-end.


October 26: The Resource Curse? Blood Oil   Chs. 1-9


November 02: Blood Oil cont….


November 09: Is democracy the answer? Democracy for realists, chs.  1-6.


November 16: Democracy for realists, chs. 7-11 (Wrap up of discussions)


Final Paper Due on November 23, 2020.


Date for oral examination TBA (Roughly sometime before mid-December)



Questions to consider: Some articles


Why and how might income inequality matter?


Poverty, Inequality, and political conflict—debate (Collier, Hoeffler & Rohner)  (Buhaug, Cederman & Gleditsch)


How and why might culture matter?

(Noland 2005) (de Soysa & Nordås 2007) (Alesina et al 2003) (Albertsen & de Soysa 2018)


Does dependency matter? Do global institutions help or hurt the poor?


Do MNCs exploit host countries?--- (de Soysa & Oneal 1999) 

Does aid help?  (Edwards 2015)  (Easterly & Williamson)


How does history & geography matter? Artificial States & Social fractionalization (Fearon 2003) (Collier, Honohan & Moene 2001) (De Soysa & Vadlamannati) (Bove & Elia 2017)


How do institutions matter and what do they affect?

 Bardhan (2005)   de Soysa (2017)  Weede (2016)


Does the natural resource curse exist? How? Where? Empirical evidence?