Call for Papers: Understanding State Capacity


The University of Manchester

Thursday 28th and Friday 29th November 2019

With support by Hallsworth Conference Fund

The importance of state capacity to economic development is increasingly recognized in the economics literature. However, despite recent theoretical work analysing the origins of state capacity, few studies have empirically examined the processes through which that capacity has developed. Further, the work that does exist focuses predominantly on one dimension of state capacity, “fiscal capacity”—the ability of a state to raise tax. The state’s ability to enforce property rights—its “legal capacity”—has received relatively little attention, despite being critical to the functioning of markets and hence growth. The same is true of monetary capacity: the ability of states to provide liquid means of exchange which lead to low transaction costs. The interrelationships between these different dimensions of capacity and growth thus remain poorly understood at yet it is critical for development.

To address many of the important issues concerning the state capacity, this conference will bring together some of the most prominent scholars in the world who have written on state capacity, as well as participants across academia and the policy world. The main task will be to study how poor countries can develop, and how failing nations can succeed.

Confirmed speakers include Tim Besley (LSE), Leigh Gardner (LSE), Noel Johnson (GMU), Debin Ma (Hitotsubashi), Mark Koyama (GMU), Patrick O’Brien (LSE), Şevket Pamuk (Bogaziçi), Peer Vries (International Institute of Social History, Amsterdam) and Yi Wen (St Louis Fed). There will be also a policy session with Vítor Gaspar (Director, Fiscal Affairs Department of the IMF).

Scholars are invited to submit papers on state capacity.

Submissions should be made via email:

Deadline for submissions: 15th September 2019.

Notification of acceptance: over the second half of September.

We have limited funding for paper presenters, with priority to PhD students. We do not charge any conference fees and we will provide lunch and drinks during the conference. We may have some student poster presentations but there will be no parallel sessions.

All accepted presenters and conference attendees must confirm their attendance for the Conference before 7th of October, 2019.

Conference Chairs:

Nuno Palma and Xiaobing Wang

Department of Economics, The University of Manchester

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