James Robinson

Reverend Dr. Richard L. Pearson Professor of Global Conflict Studies

James Robinson is the Reverend Dr. Richard L. Pearson Professor of Global Conflict Studies and University Professor at the Harris School of Public Policy at the University of Chicago and Institute Director of The Pearson Institute for the Study and Resolution of Global Conflicts. He studied economics at the London School of Economics, the University of Warwick and Yale University. He previously taught in the Department of Economics at the University of Melbourne, the Department of Economics at the University of Southern California, the Departments of Economics and Political Science at the University of California at Berkeley and the Department of Government at Harvard.

Some of his publications include; “Why did the West Extend the Franchise?” Quarterly Journal of Economics, August 2000; “A Theory of Political Transitions” American Economic Review, September 2001; “Colonial Origins of Comparative Development” American Economic Review, December 2001; “Inefficient Redistribution” American Political Science Review, September 2001; “Reversal of Fortune” Quarterly Journal of Economics, November 2002; and “States and Power in Africa: Comparative Lessons in Authority and Control by Jeffrey I. Herbst: A Review Essay” Journal of Economic Literature, June 2002. He has just published a book jointly with Daron Acemoglu titled The Economic Origins of Democracy and Dictatorship which was published by Cambridge University Press.


  • Political economy;
  • economic development;
  • political development;
  • comparative

Current Research Interests

James Robinson’s main research interests are in comparative economic and political development with a focus on the long-run with a particular interest in Latin America and Sub-Saharan Africa. He is currently conducting research in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sierra Leone, Haiti and in Colombia where he has taught for many years during the summer at the University of the Andes in Bogotá.

Selected Publications & Presentations

Publications by Type: click here



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“A hardhitting economic sociology would attempt to draw on the best of sociology and economics, and to unite interests and social relations in one and the same analysis.”— Richard Swedberg