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Sam van Noort

Sam van Noort

PhD title: The Importance of Effective States: Why Institutions that enhance State Capacity are more Important for Economic Development than Institutions that provide Checks-and-Balances.

Supervisor: Dr Ha-Joon Chang

Wolfson College


Biography: I am a political economist interested in the process of economic development in comparative perspective. In my PhD research I focus on the effect of state capacity on economic growth. The existing development literature is limited to examining only the effect of political institutions that constrain political executives to decide upon policy without institutionalized checks-and-balances (i.e. despotic state power). These institutions are hypothesized to cause economic development through the provision of secure private property rights. In contrast I study the effect of institutions that empower state executives to implement policy effectively after that policy has been decided upon in the political process (i.e. state capacity). My key findings are that: (1) state capacity has a much stronger effect on economic development than constrains on despotic state power does; (2) state capacity also has a substantially stronger effect than other prominent explanations for cross-country differences in economic development, such as: geography, climate, work ethic, religion, social trust, natural resources, legal origins, colonialization, and others; (3) the independent effect of private property rights is much weaker after the importance of state capacity is properly taken into account; and (4) private property rights security itself is much more strongly determined by state capacity than by constraints on the despotic power of state executives.

Please visit my website for my CV and recent research output.

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