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Lionel Robbins Memorial Lectures - Understanding Institutions

Speaker: Professor Daron Acemoglu (MIT)

Date: Monday 23rd, Tuesday 24th, Wednesday 25th February 2004
Venue: Old Theatre, LSE, Old Building, Houghton Street, London WC2A 2AE

Download Lecture Slides (PDF, 647kb)


These lectures will develop the case that institutions, meaning the formal and informal rules governing economic and political interactions, are the major determinant of the cross-country differences in economic performance. Understanding the effect of institutions on economic outcomes and why institutions vary across countries must be a first step in any attempt to improve the long-run performance of less-developed nations in the world.

The lectures will also show that institutions are not purely determined by historical accidents or ideological difference, but are chosen by social groups with political power as a way of affecting current and future allocations of resources. This approach provides us not only with a theory of institutions, but also helps us understand why institutions persist and how and why they change. Throughout, the lectures will use a number of historical episodes to illustrate the key concepts and theories. These include the experience of the European colonies during the age of Europe’s expansion and during its aftermath, the process of European growth between 1500 and 1900, the rise of democratic political institutions in Western Europe and Latin America, the process of political development and industrialization in the United States.

  • Lecture 1: Institutions and the Prosperity of Nations
    Chair: Prof. Lord Layard, CEP, LSE
  • Lecture 2: Towards a Theory of Institutions
    Chair: Mr Christopher Johnson
  • Lecture 3: Institutional Persistence and Institutional Change
    Chair: Sir Howard Davies, Director, LSE