In recent years, neoliberalism has become an academic catchphrase. Yet, in contrast to other prominent social science concepts such as democracy, the meaning and proper usage of neoliberalism curiously have elicited little scholarly debate. Based on a content analysis of 148 journal articles published from 1990 to 2004, we document three potentially problematic aspects of neoliberalism’s use: the term is often undefined; it is employed unevenly across ideological divides; and it is used to characterize an excessively broad variety of phenomena. To explain these characteristics, we trace the genesis and evolution of the term neoliberalism throughout several decades of political economy debates. We show that neoliberalism has undergone a striking transformation, from a positive label coined by the German Freiberg School to denote a moderate renovation of classical liberalism, to a normatively negative term associated with radical economic reforms in Pinochet’s Chile. We then present an extension of W. B. Gallie’s framework for analyzing essentially contested concepts to explain why the meaning of neoliberalism is so rarely debated, in contrast to other normatively and politically charged social science terms. We conclude by proposing several ways that the term can regain substantive meaning as a “new liberalism” and be transformed into a more useful analytic tool.
Policy experimentation is frequently highlighted as a potent means to facilitate institutional innovation, and avoid reformist leaps in the dark by injecting bottom-up initiative and local knowledge into the national policy process. Yet experimentation remains a surprisingly vague concept in the debate over variants of economic governance. This article contributes to the study of experiment-based policymaking by examining the distinctive tools, processes, and effects of experimental programs in major domains of China's economic reform. China's experience attests to the potency of experimentation in bringing about transformative change, even in a rigid authoritarian, bureaucratic environment, and regardless of strong political opposition. Large-scale experimentation stimulated policy learning and economic expansion effectively in those sectors in which political elites could benefit from supporting new types of private and transnational entrepreneurial activity. Conversely, experimental programs largely failed in generating an effective provision of social goods which would require a combination of active societal supervision and strict central government enforcement to make it work. Though the impact of reform experiments varies between policy domains, China's experimentation-based policy process has been essential to redefining basic policy parameters. At the heart of this process, we find a pattern of central-local interaction in generating policy-"experimentation under hierarchy" which constitutes a notable addition to the repertoires of governance that have been tried for achieving economic transformation.
By 2000, over one-third of Silicon Valley’s high-skilled workers were foreign-born, and overwhelmingly from Asia. These U.S.-educated engineers are transforming developmental opportunities for formerly peripheral regions as they build professional and business connections to their home countries. In a process more akin to “brain circulation” than “brain drain,” these engineers and entrepreneurs, aided by the lowered transaction costs associated with digitization, are transferring technical and institutional know-how between distant regional economies faster and more flexibly than most large corporations. This article examines how Chinese- and Indian-born engineers are accelerating the development of the information technology industries in their home countries—initially by tapping the low-cost skill in their home countries, and over time by contributing to highly localized processes of entrepreneurial experimentation and upgrading, while maintain close ties to the technology and markets in Silicon Valley. However, these successful models also raise several questions about the broader relevance of brain circulation outside of several key countries, and regions of those countries, within the global South.
This paper presents a new measure polyarchy for a global sample of 182 countries from 1900 to 2017 based on the Varieties of Democracy (V-Dem) data, deriving from an expert survey of more than 3000 country experts from around the world, with on average 5 experts rating each indicator. By measuring the five components of Elected Officials, Clean Elections, Associational Autonomy, Inclusive Citizenship, and Freedom of Expression and Alternative Sources of Information separately, we anchor this new index directly in Dahl’s (1971) extremely influential theoretical framework. The paper describes how the five polyarchy components were measured and provides the rationale for how to aggregate them to the polyarchy scale. We find that personal characteristics or ideological predilections of the V-Dem country experts do not systematically predict their ratings on our indicators. We also find strong correlations with other existing measures of electoral democracy, but also decisive differences where we believe the evidence supports the polyarchy index having higher face validity.
Creating community health worker jobs in the public sector is a prominent goal in the global health development industry. According to industry leaders, Ethiopia’s government has created community health worker jobs at a scale and in a way that other countries can look to as a model. Based on extensive document review and interviews with district, national, and international health officials, we show that narratives about saving lives, empowering women, and creating model citizens in a context of resource scarcity allow Ethiopia’s ruling party to obtain international admiration for creating salaried community health worker jobs and to simultaneously avoid criticisms of its concurrent use of unpaid women’s community health labor. Public sector community health worker investments in the twenty-first century reveal the layered narratives inherent in global development practices that entangle states, international donors, NGOs, and citizens.
Creating community health worker jobs in the public sector is a prominent goal in the global health development industry. According to industry leaders, Ethiopia's government has created community health worker jobs at a scale and in a way that other countries can look to as a model. Based on extensive document review and interviews with district, national, and international health officials, we show that narratives about saving lives, empowering women, and creating model citizens in a context of resource scarcity allow Ethiopia's ruling party to obtain international admiration for creating salaried community health worker jobs and to simultaneously avoid criticisms of its concurrent use of unpaid women's community health labor. Public sector community health worker investments in the twenty-first century reveal the layered narratives inherent in global development practices that entangle states, international donors, NGOs, and citizens.
Development theory has moved from a single-minded focus on capital accumulation toward a more complex understanding of the institutions that make development possible. Yet, instead of expanding the range of institutional strategies explored, the most prominent policy consequence of this “institutional turn” has been the rise of “institutional monocropping”: the imposition of blueprints based on idealized versions of Anglo-American institutions, the applicability of which is presumed to transcend national circumstances and cultures. The disappointing results of monocropping suggest taking the institutional turn in a direction that would increase, rather than diminish, local input and experimentation. The examples of Porto Alegre, Brazil, and Kerala, India, reinforce Amartya Sen’s idea that “public discussion and exchange” should be at the heart of any trajectory of institutional change, and flag potential gains from strategies of “deliberative development” which rely on popular deliberation to set goals and allocate collective goods.
This paper investigates the outcome of the efforts to economically catch up during the so-called development era in French-speaking West Africa. An attempt is made to measure and discuss key elements of social capability over the period 1930–1980 in Côte d’Ivoire and Senegal following Moses Abramovitz’ interpretation of social capability. The paper distinguishes between four elements of social capability: degree of structural transformation, social and economic inclusion, the state’s autonomy, and its accountability. We find that there was significant but uneven progress in social capability in both countries during the development era. Despite their differences in economic performance, both countries confronted fundamental shared challenges. Most notably, our analysis highlights how persistent lack of broad-based access to economic opportunities played a significant role in disrupting sustained economic and social progress in the two countries. This gives an opportunity to reflect on similarities and differences between the development era and the recent African growth phase.
In many countries around the world, living in one subnational unit versus another can be just as important as race or class as a determinant of differential access to opportunities and wellbeing. Despite this fact, scholars still heavily emphasize interpersonal income inequality. This article develops and implements new tools to shift from interpersonal to subnational inequality and from economic to social inequality. It develops a novel concept and measurement of subnational social inequality that overcomes the inconsistencies between definitions and measurements found in existing research on the subject. Focusing on Latin America, the article applies the new measurement tools to reveal differences in the evolution and rankings of interpersonal and subnational forms of inequality. Such findings challenge our existing knowledge of both the levels and the sources of inequality in the region. To make sense of these discoveries, the article suggests that the usual drivers of interpersonal inequality—such as neoliberal reforms and authoritarianism—might drive down subnational inequality, while well-known inequality fighters—such as democratization and left party rule—might not be as effective at combating its subnational variety.
The practice in Leninist political systems of assigning local leaders concurrent seats on higher-level leadership bodies presents a puzzle. In China, for example, a subset of provincial leaders hold seats in the central Politburo, while some city-level leaders hold seats in provincial party standing committees (PPSCs). While some scholars view these concurrent appointments as a form of top-down control or co-optation, others see these arrangements as a reflection of local power and a channel for the assertion of local interests. In this paper, we attempt to adjudicate between these different views empirically by analyzing the patterns and consequences of concurrent appointments of city leaders to China’s PPSCs. We introduce a new typology that distinguishes between the political and economic functions of concurrent appointments to differentiate four possible intergovernmental dynamics of control, co-optation, compromise, and concession. Through analysis of an original dataset on PPSC appointments and case studies of three Chinese cities, we show that concurrent appointments in China’s provinces can function as a means of concession, compromise, or co-optation, but we find little evidence that concurrent appointments allow higher-level authorities to firmly control or economically exploit localities.
We present a typology of states that distinguishes constellations of state fragility based on empirical patterns. State fragility is here defined as deficiencies in one or more of three core functions of the state. These functions include violence control, implementation capacity, and empirical legitimacy. Violence control refers to the state’s ability to manage the uses of violence within society. Implementation capacity refers to the state’s ability to provide basic public services. Empirical legitimacy refers to the population’s consent to the state’s claim to rule. Employing three to four indicators per dimension for 171 countries over the period 2005–2015 and finite mixture model clustering, we find six dominant constellations that represent different types of state dysfunctionality.
This study examines the impact of legislature size on local public finance and service outcomes in Indonesia. The investigation employs both continuity- and randomization-based regression discontinuity methods to accommodate the endogeneity of council size and to identify its causal effects on local government spending, service delivery, and own-source revenue mobilization. Many studies have examined the influence of increasing legislature size on expenditures, but no consensus has emerged on the direction of impacts. Moreover, interpretation of the efficiency of derived spending effects has remained elusive and reliant on ad hoc theorizing. This is the first study to examine the causal impact of council size on service outcomes, thereby facilitating an empirically based understanding of efficiency effects. The study finds that increasing legislature size negatively affects local government total and capital spending. The investigation also shows that rising legislature size has a negative influence on citizen access to public services. Finally, the examination offers evidence to suggest that an increasing number of legislators have no impact on local own-source revenues. Taken together the results imply a decline in local efficiency: residents pay the same amount in taxes but receive fewer services. The findings in this investigation contradict recent theoretical predictions and empirical results from other research.
This paper investigates the outcome of the efforts to economically catch up during the so-called development era in French-speaking West Africa. An attempt is made to measure and discuss key elements of social capability over the period 1930-1980 in Cote d'Ivoire and Senegal following Moses Abramovitz' interpretation of social capability. The paper distinguishes between four elements of social capability: degree of structural transformation, social and economic inclusion, the state's autonomy, and its accountability. We find that there was significant but uneven progress in social capability in both countries during the development era. Despite their differences in economic performance, both countries confronted fundamental shared challenges. Most notably, our analysis highlights how persistent lack of broad-based access to economic opportunities played a significant role in disrupting sustained economic and social progress in the two countries. This gives an opportunity to reflect on similarities and differences between the development era and the recent African growth phase.
Accountability is one of the cornerstones of good governance. Establishing accountable governments is a top priority on the international development agenda. Yet, scholars and democracy practitioners know little about how accountability mechanisms develop and thus can be supported by international and national actors. The present study tackles the questions of how, and in what sequence accountability sub-types develop. We consider not only vertical (elections and political parties) and horizontal accountability (legislature, judiciary, and other oversight bodies) but also diagonal accountability (civil society and media) in both their de-jure and the de-facto dimensions. By utilizing novel sequencing methods, we study their sequential relationships in 173 countries from 1900 to the present with data from the new V-Dem dataset. Considering the long-term dimensions of institution building, this study indicates that most aspects of de-facto vertical accountability precede other forms of accountability. Effective institutions of horizontal accountability—such as vigorous parliaments and independent high courts—evolve rather late in the sequence and build on progress in many other areas.
This paper asks why peripheral European countries have been particularly vulnerable to housing and mortgage booms in recent decades; how these booms have shaped their exposure to the global financial crisis (GFC), and how the GFC has affected peripheral housing finance. To answer these questions, it explores the interaction between European processes of financial integration and domestic housing (finance) policies in four peripheral countries. It argues that the EU framework for free movement of capital and financial service provision as well as the availability of cheap credit has induced a trajectory of housing financialization, which has taken two forms: funding from wholesale markets and direct penetration of foreign financial institutions. These two forms attest to a core-periphery relationship in housing financialization, whose hierarchical character came to the fore in the crisis. Peripheral European countries experienced sudden stops and reversals of capital flows, which badly affected their banking systems. Unable to solve the looming banking crises on their own, they had to turn to creditors to gain access to much needed capital. A combination of international conditionality and domestic policy responses, and the original level of mortgage debt result in different trajectories in housing finance after the crisis.
This article proposes a classification of ‘slow-moving” and “fast-moving” institutions, and discusses the potential results of their interaction. A prime example of a slow-moving institution is culture, including values, beliefs, and social norms, which tend to change gradually. Political institutions are typically fast-moving institutions; exemplifying the nature of this category, political institutions do not necessarily change often but can change very quickly—sometimes nearly overnight. The interaction between slow-moving and fast-moving institutions can shed light on institutional change (why, how, and when it occurs), and evinces both the difficulty of transplanting institutions into different cultural contexts and the advantages of diverse institutional “blueprints” for efficient growth and development.