Dani Rodrik
Photo credit: Judith Affolter

Dani Rodrik is an economist whose research revolves around globalization, economic growth and development, and political economy. His current work focuses on how to create more inclusive economies, in developed and developing societies.

Rodrik is the Ford Foundation Professor of International Political Economy at Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government. He is currently President of the International Economic Association, and co-director of Economics for Inclusive Prosperity. His newest books are Combating Inequality: Rethinking Government's Role (2021, edited with Olivier Blanchard) and Straight Talk on Trade: Ideas for a Sane World Economy (2017).

New

Recent Research

Rodrik D, Stantcheva S. Fixing Capitalism’s Good Jobs Problem. Oxford Review of Economic Policy. Forthcoming.Abstract

Conventional welfare state policies that center on education, training, progressive taxation, and social insurance are inadequate to address labor market polarization, which is capitalism’s most pressing inclusion challenge at present. We propose a strategy aimed directly at the productive sphere of the economy and targeting an increase in the supply of ‘good jobs. The main elements of this strategy are: (i) active labour market policies linked to employers; (ii) industrial and regional policies directly targeting the creation of good jobs; (iii) innovation policies that incentivize labour-friendly technologies; (iv) international economic policies that facilitate the maintenance of high domestic labour/social standards. These elements are connected both by their objective—expanding the number of good jobs—and by a new approach to regulation that is collaborative and iterative rather than top-down and prescriptive. We emphasize the importance of new institutional arrangements that enable strategic long-term information exchange and cooperation between governments and firms.

Rodrik D, Walt S. How to Construct a New Global Order. 2021.Abstract

The global political-economic order is in flux. It is unclear what will replace the U.S-centric post-1990s “liberal” order and whether competition with China can be managed successfully. We advance a set of principles for the construction of a stable and broadly beneficial world order that does not require significant commonality in interests and values among states. In particular, we propose a “meta-regime” that presumes only minimal initial agreement among the major powers. The meta-regime is a device for structuring a conversation around the relevant issues, and facilitating either agreement or accommodation, as the case may be. It is agnostic and open-ended about the specific rules to be applied in particular issue-areas. Even where agreement proves impossible, as will often be the case, the objective of the meta-regime is to enhance communication among the parties and clarify the reasons for the disagreement, and to incentivize states to avoid inflicting unnecessary harm on others as they act autonomously. Participating in this meta-regime would impose few constraints on states that want to maintain their freedom of action. Yet in favorable circumstances, it could facilitate significant cooperation. It could also encourage increased cooperation over time even among adversaries, as participation in the meta-regime builds trust between them. We illustrate the practical implications of the meta-regime by applying it to U.S.-China digital competition, U.S.-Iran relations, human rights, and global migration.

Revised, May 2021
Diao X, Ellis M, McMillan M, Rodrik D. Africa's Manufacturing Puzzle: Evidence from Tanzanian and Ethiopian Firms. 2020.Abstract

Recent growth accelerations in Africa are characterized by increasing productivity in agriculture, a declining share of the labor force employed in agriculture and declining productivity in modern sectors such as manufacturing. To shed light on this puzzle, we disaggregate firms in the manufacturing sector by size using two newly created panels of manufacturing firms, one for Tanzania covering 2008-2016 and one for Ethiopia covering 1996-2017. Our analysis reveals a dichotomy between larger firms that exhibit superior productivity performance but do not expand employment much, and small firms that absorb employment but do not experience any productivity growth. We suggest the poor employment performance of large firms is related to use of capital-intensive techniques associated with global trends in technology.

February 2021
Rodrik D, Di Tella R. Labour Market Shocks and the Demand for Trade Protection: Evidence from Online Surveys. Economic Journal. 2020;130 :1008-1030.Abstract
We study preferences for government action in response to layoffs resulting from different types of labourmarket shocks. We consider: technological change, a demand shift, bad management and three kinds of international outsourcing. Support for government intervention rises sharply in response to shocks and is heavily biased towards trade protection. Trade shocks generate more demand for protectionism and, among trade shocks, outsourcing to a developing country elicits greater demand for protectionism. The ‘bad management’ shock is the only scenario that induces a desired increase in compensatory transfers. 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 labour abuses in the exporting country increases the demand for trade protection by Clinton supporters but not Trump supporters.
More

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.

Featured