1st Edition

Why States Matter in Economic Development The Socioeconomic Origins of Strong Institutions

By Jawied Nawabi Copyright 2024
    258 Pages 15 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This book examines the underlying conditions that give rise to states that are effective, efficient, and bureaucratically inclusive with their developmental policies.

    In spite of humanity’s significant advancements in science, technology and institutionalization of universal human rights conventions in the last seven decades, many countries are still failing to achieve successful development results. As a result, enormous levels of inequality, poverty, and malnutrition prevail. This book focuses on the role of the state in the political economy of development, tracing the socio-economic origins of effective state institutions from a comparative historical-institutional perspective. Drawing on the case studies of South Korea, Brazil, India, Spain, France, and England, the study looks at how good state institutions form, and why these are central to the socioeconomic advancement of their populations. The book contends that effective developmental states are those in which state actors are able to effectively diminish and co-opt the power of the country’s landed elites during the early years of state building. Effectively, the power balance between these two classes determines the developmental trajectory of the state. Considering agrarian reform as the foremost indispensable policy tool to open conditions for positive changes in effective taxation, education, healthcare, and strategic sustainable industrial policies, this analysis offers a significant contribution to the literature on the sociology of institutions and the political economy of development.

    As well as being a key reading for advanced students and researchers in these areas, this book draws real-life policy lessons for practitioners and policy makers in the developing world.

     Chapter 1: Introduction

    Chapter 2: Methodology and Definitions

    Chapter 3: The Lessons of European State Formation for the Developing Countries

    Chapter 4: The Socioeconmic Origins of South Korea’s Developmental State and Its Agro-Industrial Path to Development

    Chapter 5: Brazil’s Stunted Development: Neither Enough Order Nor Progress 

    Chapter 6: India: Only A Developmental State Can Provide Roti, Kapada, and Makaan (Bread, Clothes, and Shelter) for the Nation

    Chapter 7: Conclusion and Transferrable Lessons


    Jawied Nawabi is Associate Professor of Economics, Sociology, and International Studies at the City University of New York–Bronx Community College.

    Finally, a book on states and development that recognizes the role of power imbalances! This fascinating book provides a fresh and persuasive argument on why and how some states have been more effective in furthering economic development: the relationship between initial wealth inequalities (particularly of land) and the state bureaucracies that form in consequence. Must-read for anyone interested in the development process.

    Jayati Ghosh, Professor of Economics, University of Massachusetts Amherst and Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, India

    The building of an effective state is critical to the processes underpinning economic development. In this important new book, Jawied Nawabi identifies a rigorous relationship between effective states and wealth equality, particularly with regard to land. The implications are stark: the transformation of land-based agrarian relations remains fundamental to the formation of state capacity. The many insights of this book make it essential for all students, scholars and practitioners of economic development.

    Haroon Akram-LodhiProfessor of Economics and International Development Studies, Trent University, Peterborough, Canada

    In this excellent and historically grounded book, Jawied Nawabi reveals the truth of the following maxim:  “strong landed elites, no socioeconomic development.” Nawabi shows how states across diverse contexts have used agrarian reform to weaken powerful agrarian actors, and how this weakening in turn has fostered successful development projects. Highly recommended.

    James MahoneyProfessor of Sociology and Political Science, Northwestern University (USA)

    Nawabi focuses on the key factors for achieving development through an insightful historical comparative analysis of the process of economic development of three well-chosen countries in both the global north and south. The reader gains insights into the requirements for an effective developmental state which is able to design and implement a sustainable development process. I particularly commend Nawabi for stressing not only that states matter but also that radical land reforms matter in countries dominated by rent-seeking landlords. 

    Cristóbal KayEmeritus Professor, International Institute for Social Studies (ISS), Erasmus University, Rotterdam, (NLD)

    This richly-detailed, compelling, comparative institutional study of Brazil, India and Korea analyzes a vexing development conundrum:  Agrarian power blocs frequently forestall state-led national projects designed to implement necessary structural changes, including land redistribution.  Constraining entitled landholders’ entrenched autonomous power requires rarely-encountered countervailing developmental state capacities to transcend adverse colonial/postcolonial legacies. 

    James M. Cypher, Doctoral Program in Development Studies, Universidad Autónoma de Zacatecas, Mexico

    Professor Nawabi has produced an important study of the importance of the state and the underlying class relations in the process of economic development using a historical comparative method of analysis. He emphasizes the importance in which pre-capitalist agrarian elites were incorporated in modern societies, not to discuss the roots of authoritarian and democratic regimes as in Barrington Moore’s classic study, but to understand the emergence of efficient developmental states. This is an essential reading for those interested in the role of developmental states in understanding the wealth of nations.

    Matías VernengoProfessor of Economics, Bucknell University, USA