Professor Leonard Wantchekon's lecture at the Sir Arthur Lewis Memorial Lecture

16th Jan, 202419:24:14 PM GMT


The Allied Social Science Associations (ASSA), holds a three-day meeting each January to present papers on general economics topics. The best minds in economics assemble each year for this event to network and celebrate new achievements in economic research.

The three-day program offers in-depth coverage of economics topics across many disciplines via hundreds of speakers and panels. Special events include the Presidential Address, award presentations, lectures, and many networking opportunities.

A feature of this year’s ASSA conference 2024 was the Sir W. Arthur Lewis Memorial Lecture recognizing an economist who has produced seminal research on economic development or made a significant contribution to economic development through public service.

The lecture was presented by the founder and President of the African School of Economics, Prof. Leonard Wantchekon, at the National Economic Association session of the ASSA Conference 2024. Held in San Antonio, Texas, his lecture on “State Capacity, Institutional Experimentation, and Development” highlighted how governments weaken state capacity by generating ‘political distortions.’ These distortions come in the form of preferential regulation and misallocation of public investments by targeting regions and groups based on political considerations.

Prof. Wantchekon argued that these distortions weakening state capacity can be corrected via institutional editing and rigorous institutional experimentation. Particularly, the insertion of a deliberation stage in democratic procedures can greatly checkmate these political distortions and bolster state capacity by facilitating information sharing and policy coordination among relevant stakeholders, promoting individual and group agency.

The annual ASSA conference is organized, managed, and controlled by the American Economic Association (AEA). The convention rotates among approximately 10 large U.S. cities and typically hosts more than 13,000 attendees from around the world and showcases the latest research in economics.

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