Summer Quarter 1998

MW 5:00-7:45, General Classroom Building 711

Dr. William M. Downs

Department of Political Science

Georgia State University


This graduate-level course analyzes the linkages between economic performance/conditions and political behavior in advanced industrial democracies, primarily in Europe and North America, and also explores the interplay of economic and political variables among nascent democracies in developing countries. Instead of a country-by-country approach, the course focuses on key theories, arguments, and issues in the field of political economy. We will cover several different definitions of political economy, examine macro-economic policy, search for evidence of economic influences on democratic behavior, compare classic liberal market political economy with Marxist or "radical" political economy, conservative political economy, and modern liberal political economy, and evaluate public policy performance in a cross-section of political systems. In analyzing relationships between economic performance and political behavior, this course considers these and related questions: How strong is political control over national economic policy making? What are the effects of unemployment and inflation on government stability? Why do tax systems vary so profoundly across liberal democracies? Why does the relationship between economic performance and mass opinion vary in strength and direction across time and across countries? Does national economic performance or an individual's personal economic situation affect one's voting decisions? What role have economic crises played in the current wave of political liberalization and democratization? How, if at all, can new democracies manage the daunting political challenges posed by economic reform?


We will make use of the following texts, each of which is available at either the University Bookstore or Park Place Bookstore:

James P. Caporaso and David P. Levine. Theories of Political Economy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992.

John B. Goodman. Monetary Sovereignty: The Politics of Central Banking in Western Europe. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1992.

Stephan Haggard and Robert R. Kaufman. The Political Economy of Democratic Transitions. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1995.

Sven Steinmo. Taxation and Democracy: Swedish, British, and American Approaches to Financing the Modern State. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1993.

Edward R. Tufte. Political Control of the Economy. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1980.

Notes on Articles and Chapters: Additional readings will come from select journal articles and book chapters, which will be made available to you. Please note that I reserve the right to add or delete reading assignments as the course develops. Additionally, you should recognize that I provide you with a set of required readings as well as a suggested list of recommended readings. You will not be held formally responsible for the supplementary readings; however, if you find a theme particularly engaging or perhaps particularly difficult to grasp, you may want to pursue the supplementary readings to gain a fuller understanding of the material.

For your reference, be aware that new work in the subfield of comparative political economy appears regularly in the American Political Science Review, the American Journal of Political Science, and the official journals of the other regional political science associations (for example, the Southern Political Science Association's Journal of Politics). Of the journals specializing in comparative political economy, Journal of Political Economy and European Journal of Political Economy are among the best. Others you should be aware of include: Constitutional Political Economy, Economics and Politics, New Political Economy, Review of Radical Political Economics, and the Scottish Journal of Political Economy.


Participation: This is a graduate-level class. As with all graduate classes, the value you derive from it is largely a function of the effort you put into it. Therefore consistent attendance is expected. Seminar members who miss more than two classes will lose 2% of the final course grade for each additional class missed. Everyone is expected to participate--i.e., thoughtful participation in class discussions is required. There is no expectation that you be correct when you speak, only that you be thinking seriously--raising questions, critiquing the literature, and trying to apply theoretical propositions to real-world phenomena. Also, please note that we will begin class promptly at 5:00.

Reading Assignments: Given our time constraints in the summer quarter, it is imperative that each student complete the assigned readings prior to each class. It is important that we all keep up to speed on the material and come to class prepared to discuss it.

Written Assignments: Analytical Essays. Students will write two discussion papers (each approximately five pages in length) during the course of the quarter. Likewise, students will serve twice as a "discussant" for a paper presented by a fellow seminar participant. These review essays will require you to evaluate the arguments currently under consideration in class by raising a single or a series of substantive, theoretical, or methodological questions/criticisms/discussion points on the work being analyzed for that particular class session. Assignments will be staggered so that several essays will be prepared each week. Each essay must be submitted to me and be in the hands of the designated discussant 24 hours prior to its presentation.

Group Project: Students will be assigned to small 2-3 person groups for a midterm mini-research project to be conducted during the week of July 13-15. Each group will be charged with comparing the relationship between economic conditions and electoral outcomes in two countries. The two countries will be selected in advance for each group, although groups with interests in the political-economic systems of particular countries may be able to choose alternative cases in consultation with the professor. The group will prepare a single written report, the findings of which will be discussed at the July 20 class meeting. You will receive further instructions on the details of this project early in the quarter.

Examination: There will be a final, comprehensive examination for this course.

Distribution of Grade Weights:

Attendance/Participation 10%

Essay 1 10%

Essay 2 15%

Performance as Discussant 10%

Group Project 15%

Exam 40%

Course Outline


June 17 Introduction to Course

Politics, economics and political economy: basic definitions and outline of central questions


June 22 "The Great Debate": Contending Perspectives in Political Economy

Caporaso & Levine, Chapters 1-5 (pp. 1-125)

Thomas Janoski and Alexander M. Hicks, "Methodological Innovations in Comparative Political Economy: An Introduction," in Thomas Janoski and Alexander M. Hicks, eds., The Comparative Political Economy of the Welfare State (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994), pp. 1-27.


Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations (Bk. 1, chs. 1-3; Bk. 3, ch. 1, Bk. 4, chs. 1, 2, 5, 8; Bk. 5, ch. 1)

K. Marx, Das Kapital (esp. volume 1)

John R. Freeman, "Theoretical Perspectives," in Democracy and Markets: The Politics of Mixed Economies (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1989): 21-53

June 24 Schools of Thought Applied: Tying the Classics to Contemporary Issues

Caporaso & Levine, Chapters 7-9 (pp. 159-216)

Clark, Political Economy, Chapter 9 (Poverty and Inequality), 11 (Minorities and Discrimination), 12 (Political Economy of Gender)


Joseph Schumpeter, Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy

Milton Friedman, Capitalism and Freedom (1962)

Michael Barratt Brown, Michael Barratt Brown, Models in Political Economy: A Guide to the Arguments


June 29 Monetary Policy, Economic Theory, and Rise of Central Banking

Goodman, Chapters 1-2

James E. Alt and K. Alec Chrystal, "Macroeconomic Policy and Economic Theory," in Alt and Chrystal, Political Economics (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1983), pp. 54-77.

July 1 Central Bank Independence: European and American Experiences Compared

Goodman, Chapters 3-5

William T. Bernhard, "A Political Explanation of Variation in Central Bank Independence," American Political Science Review 92:2 (June 1998): 311-328.


Alberto Alesina and L. Summers, "Central bank independence and economic performance: Some comparative evidence," Journal of Money Credit and Banking 25 (May 1993): 403-414.


July 6 Revenue: The Politics of Taxation in Comparative Perspective

Steinmo, Taxation and Democracy (all)


B. Guy Peters, The Politics of Taxation : A Comparative Perspective (Cambridge, MA. : B. Blackwell, 1991)

R. Bates and D.-H. Lien, "A Note on Taxation, Development and Representative Government," Politics and Society 14:1 (1985): 53-70.

July 8 Spending: The Growth of Government and the Age of Austerity

Peter Hall, "Economic Policy and the Paradigms of Politics," in Governing the Economy (Cambridge: Polity, 1986)

Alexander M. Hicks and Duane H. Swank, "Politics, Institutions, and Welfare Spending in Industrial Democracies, 1960-82," American Political Science Review 86:3 (September 1992): 658-674.

Jan-Erik Lane and Svante Ersson, "Policy determinants in western Europe," in Lane and Ersson, Comparative Political Economy (London: Pinter, 1990), pp. 144-176.

Week 5

July 13 No class

Work on Group Projects

July 15 No class


July 20 Economics and Elections

James E. Alt and K. Alec Chrystal, "The Economics of Voting," in Alt and Chrystal, Political Economics (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1983), pp. 149-172.

Alberto Alesina, "Elections, Party Structure, and the Economy," in Jeffrey S. Banks and Eric A. Hanushek, eds., Modern Political Economy (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995), pp. 145-170.


Michael S. Lewis-Beck, Economics and Elections (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1990)

July 22 Political Business Cycles

Tufte, Political Control of the Economy

P.E. Mouritzen, "The Local Economy Political Business Cycle," Scandinavian Political Studies (1989), pp. 37-55

Motoshi Suzuki, "Political Business Cycles in the Public Mind," American Political Science Review 86:4 (December 1992): 989-996.


July 27 Problems of Political Economy in Developing Countries

Haggard and Kaufman, Chapters 1-5

William H. Riker and David L. Weimer, "The Political Economy of Transformation: Liberalization and Property Rights," in Jeffrey S. Banks and Eric A. Hanushek, eds., Modern Political Economy (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995), pp. 80-107.


J. Frieden, Debt, Development and Democracy, ch. 1-3,7-8.

Mancur Olson, "Dictatorship, Democracy, and Development," American Political Science Review 87:3 (September 1993): 567-576.

A. Gerschenkron, Economic Backwardness in Historical Perspective, ch.1.

July 29 Political Economy of Democratic Transitions

Haggard and Kaufman, Chapters 6-10


Haggard, Pathways from the Periphery, chs. 1, 2, 8-10.


August 3 Environmental Policy: Classic Nexus of CPE and IPE

Clark, Political Economy, Chapter 14

David P. Baron, "The economics and politics of regulation: perspectives, agenda, and approaches," in Jeffrey S. Banks and Eric A. Hanushek, eds., Modern Political Economy (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995), pp. 10-62.

Geoffrey D. Dabelko and P. J. Simmons, "Environment and Security: Core Ideas and US Government Initiatives," SAIS Review (Winter-Spring 1997): 127-146.


Lester Thurow, The Future of Capitalism (Morrow, 1996)

C. Lindblom, Politics and Markets, chs.1-6, 8-9, 12-15.

Gabriel A. Almond, "Capitalism and Democracy," PS: Political Science and Politics (September 1991): 467-474.

Note: This course syllabus provides a general plan for the course; deviations may be necessary.

Note: Students are responsible for the information contained in the Academic Honest policy found in On Campus.