Dani Rodrik
Photo credit: Judith Affolter

Dani Rodrik is an economist whose research covers globalization, economic growth and development, and political economy.

He is the Ford Foundation Professor of International Political Economy at Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government. He was previously the Albert O. Hirschman Professor in the School of Social Science at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton (2013-2015).

Professor Rodrik is currently President-Elect of the International Economic Association. His newest book is Straight Talk on Trade: Ideas for a Sane World Economy (2017).

Recent Research

Rodrik D, Diao X, McMillan M. The Recent Growth Boom in Developing Economies: A Structural-Change Perspective. In: The Palgrave Handbook of Development Economics. Palgrave Macmillan ; 2019.Abstract

Growth has accelerated in a wide range of developing countries over the last couple of decades, resulting in an extraordinary period of convergence with the advanced economies. We analyze this experience from the lens of structural change – the reallocation of labor from low- to high-productivity sectors. Patterns of structural change differ greatly in the recent growth experience. In contrast to the East Asian experience, none of the recent growth accelerations in Latin America, Africa, or South Asia was driven by rapid industrialization. Beyond that, we document that recent growth accelerations were based on either rapid within-sector labor productivity growth (Latin America) or growth-increasing structural change (Africa), but rarely both at the same time. The African experience is particularly intriguing, as growth-enhancing structural change appears to have come typically at the expense of declining labor productivity growth in the more modern sectors of the economy. We explain this anomaly by arguing that the forces that promoted structural change in Africa originated on the demand side, through either external transfers or increase in agricultural incomes. In contrast to Asia, structural change was the result of increased demand for goods and services produced in the modern sectors of the economy rather than productivity improvements in these sectors.

August 2019

Rodrik D, Di Tella R. Labor Market Shocks and the Demand for Trade Protection: Evidence from Online Surveys. 2019.Abstract
We study preferences for government action in response to layoffs resulting from different types of labor-market shocks. We consider the following shocks: technological change, a demand shift, bad management, and three kinds of international outsourcing. Respondents are given a choice among no government action, compensatory transfers, and trade protection. In response to these shocks, support for government intervention generally rises sharply and is heavily biased towards trade protection. Demand for import protection increases significantly in all cases, except for the “bad management” shock. Trade shocks generate more demand for protectionism, and among trade shocks, outsourcing to a developing country elicits greater demand for protectionism than outsourcing to a developed country. The “bad management” shock is the only scenario that induces a desired increase in compensatory transfers. Effects appear to be heterogeneous across subgroups with different political preferences and education. Trump supporters are more protectionist than Clinton supporters, but preferences seem easy to manipulate: Clinton supporters primed with trade shocks are as protectionist as baseline Trump voters. Highlighting labor abuses in the exporting country increases the demand for trade protection by Clinton supporters but not Trump supporters.
NBER Working Paper, March 2019
Rodrik D, Mukand S. The Political Economy of Liberal Democracy. The Economic Journal. Forthcoming.Abstract

This paper develops a taxonomy of political regimes that distinguishes between three sets of rights - property rights, political rights and civil rights. The truly distinctive nature of liberal democracy is the protection of civil rights (equal treatment by the state for all groups) in addition to the other two. The paper shows how democratic transitions that are the product of a settlement between the elite (who care mostly about property rights) and the majority (who care about political rights), generically fail to produce liberal democracy. Instead, the emergence of liberal democracy requires low levels of inequality and weak identity cleavages.

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Recent Books

Economics Rules: The Rights and Wrongs of The Dismal Science
Economics Rules: The Rights and Wrongs of The Dismal Science. New York: W.W. Norton; 2015. Publisher's VersionAbstract

A leading economist trains a lens on his own discipline to uncover when it fails and when it works.

In the wake of the financial crisis and the Great Recession, economic science seems anything but. In this sharp, masterfully argued book, Dani Rodrik, a leading critic from within the science, renders a surprisingly upbeat judgment on economics. Sifting through the failings of the discipline, he homes in on its greatest strength: its many—and often contradictory—explanatory frameworks.

Drawing on the history of the field and his deep experience as a practitioner, Rodrik insists that economic activity defies universal laws. But when economists embrace their expertise as a set of tools, not as a grand unified theory, they can improve the world. From successful antipoverty programs in Mexico to growth strategies in Africa and intelligent remedies for domestic inequality, Rodrik highlights the profound positive influence of economics properly applied.

At once a forceful critique and a defense of the discipline, Economics Rules charts a path toward a more humble but more effective science.

The Globalization Paradox: Democracy and the Future of the World Economy
The Globalization Paradox: Democracy and the Future of the World Economy. New York and London: W.W. Norton; 2011 pp. 368. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Surveying three centuries of economic history, a Harvard professor argues for a leaner global system that puts national democracies front and center.  From the mercantile monopolies of seventeenth-century empires to the modern-day authority of the WTO, IMF, and World Bank, the nations of the world have struggled to effectively harness globalization's promise. The economic narratives that underpinned these eras—the gold standard, the Bretton Woods regime, the "Washington Consensus"—brought great success and great failure. In this eloquent challenge to the reigning wisdom on globalization, Dani Rodrik offers a new narrative, one that embraces an ineluctable tension: we cannot simultaneously pursue democracy, national self-determination, and economic globalization. When the social arrangements of democracies inevitably clash with the international demands of globalization, national priorities should take precedence. Combining history with insight, humor with good-natured critique, Rodrik's case for a customizable globalization supported by a light frame of international rules shows the way to a balanced prosperity as we confront today's global challenges in trade, finance, and labor markets.

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