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The Political Economy of Development: A Game Theoretic Approach, Robert H. Bates

Reviewed by Cesar Martinelli

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This compact volume collects Robert H. Bates's game theoretic contributions to the political economy of development. The original articles were published over four decades, with different coauthors; in this book, they are edited and weaved together to present a unified framework for studying the role of political institutions in development. The content of the volume follows a natural sequence, from considering conflict resolution in stateless societies, to the emergence of the state as a specialist in violence, to the problem of restraining the state to ensure prosperity, to the consequences of rent seeking for policies toward industrialization, to the different paths that economic growth may take because of underlying political changes.

The formal apparatus of the volume also builds naturally, from simple strategic games and two period extensive-form games in the earlier chapters, to more involved but intuitively motivated and presented repeated games in the middle and later chapters. The development of the formal framework reflects the portrait of more complex institutions as the book progresses. It also serves to introduce notation and formal tools progressively, which helps make the book accessible.

Among the main contributors to the political economy literature, Bates is distinguished by the breadth of his scholarly interests and by his dee

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