Summer 1999
MW 5:30-8:15
General Classroom Building 701

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:


We will make use of the following texts:

James P. Caporaso and David P. Levine. Theories of PoliticalEconomy. Cambridge: Cambridge 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.

Ben S. Bernanke et al. Inflation Targeting: Lessons from the International Experience. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1999.

Jeffrey S. Banks and Eric A. Hanushek, eds. Modern Political Economy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995.

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. 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 5:30.

Reading Assignments: Given our time constraints in the summer session, it is imperative that each student completes 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: Given, again, the time constraints of the summer session, there is no research paper requirement for this course. In its place are three short papers--two analytical essays reviewing one or more of the readings and one empirical paper on the theme of "economics and elections."

Analytical Essays. Students will write two discussion papers (each approximately five pages in length). 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 all other class members at least 24 hours prior to its presentation.

Economics-Elections Assignment: Students will be assigned a midterm mini-research project to be due July 12. Each student will be charged with comparing the relationship between economic conditions and electoral outcomes in two countries. The two countries will be distributed in advance, although persons with interests in the political-economic systems of particular countries may be able to choose alternative cases in consultation with the professor. Each student will prepare a written report, the findings of which will be discussed at the July 12 class meeting. You will receive further instructions on the details of this project early in the summer session.

Examination: There will be a take-home final examination for this course.

Distribution of Grade Weights:
Attendance/Participation        20%
Essay 1                                 10%
Essay 2                                 15%
Economics-Elections Project 15%
Exam                                    40%

Course Outline

Part I

June 14 Introduction to Course

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

June 16 "The Great Debate": Contending Perspectives in Political Economy

Part III

June 21 Monetary Policy, Economic Theory, and Rise of Central Banking

Recommended: June 23 Central Bank Independence: European and American Experiences Compared Recommended:
Part IV

June 28 Revenue: The Politics of Taxation in Comparative Perspective

Recommended: June 30 Spending: The Growth of Government and the Age of Austerity Recommended:   July 5 ***University HolidayŚno class***

July 7 Schools of Thought Applied: Tying the Classics to Contemporary Fiscal Issues

Part V

July 12 Economics and Elections

Recommended: July 14 Political Business Cycles
Part VI

July 19 Problems of Political Economy in Developing Countries

July 21 Political Economy and Regime Change Recommended: July 26 Political Economy of Democratic Transitions Recommended:
Part VII

July 28 Environmental Policy: Classic Nexus of CPE and IPE

Recommended: August 2 ***Take-home exam due***

 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.