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University of Hong Kong
This course applies economic analysis to the study of the relationships between the economy and the state. The market economy does not exist and operate autonomously in a vacuum as is portrayed in most economics writings and courses. This is very misleading and definitely incorrect. The state is the most important actor outside the economy and interacts with it in many different ways, for numerous reasons, and with various consequences.
We examine different conceptions of the role and function of the state in its
relationship with the economy. Arising from these conceptions, the division of labor between the market and the state can be either complementary or competing. We examine the intended and unintended consequences of state actions and consider their implications for the proper role and function of the state in its relationship with the economy.
There are two requirements for this course: (1) coursework is a paper of 1500 words (50%) and (2) a written 2-hour in-class final examination covering everything taught in the course (50%) during examination week.
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This course applies economic analysis to study three institutions state, law, and the
economy and their interrelationships. Topics include: Why is the nature of the state? What is
its origin? What are the differences between the liberal and populist conceptions of the
democratic state? What and why are there dilemmas of political organization, conflict, and
succession in the autocratic state? What is the rule of law? How does the political and
economic order relate to rent seeking groups? What is the difference between the common
law and the civil law as legal systems? What consequences does it have? What is the
modernization hypothesis and the critical juncture theory? How and why to dictatorships
become democracies; and why sometimes the reverse happens? What is the role of
economic, behavioural and structural factors in such transitions? Why are revolutions often
surprises? Does democracy promote growth? Does the type of legal system one inherits
promote growth? What is the relationship between rulers, citizens and interest groups in the
pre-industrial world? The course also adopts an analytic narratives approach to interpret
comparative case histories drawn from Europe, America, China, India, and the Middle East.
Written paper (50%) Final examination (50%)
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