For this Wednesday’s blog post, I’d like you to take on the role of critic. Acemoglu and Robinson are two of the most well-known economists working on the politics of economic development today, and their new book and blog both make a forceful case that Africa’s long-term growth trajectory (which has been, at least until quite recently, exceedingly negative) has been determined not by geography or culture, but by institutions. But many observers have found their core argument about institutions to be frustrating. It seems, according to the development economics blogosphere (and yes, there really is such a thing. They have a Twitterverse, too), that while A/R offer an effective critique of how institutional factors have been neglected in most development scholarship and a proof that they do indeed matter, they neglect the most important thing of all–a solution.
So, put your thinking caps on, and ponder this: If long-term historical trajectories and contemporary politics have all conspired to create weak institutions (a “weak state”) in most African nations, what might plausibly be done to strengthen it?