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Lecture: How China Escaped the Poverty Trap
November 2016 @ 18:00 - 20:00
CeMEAS Lecture Series:
How China Escaped the Poverty Trap
Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2016 · 6 pm, VG 3.101
Yuen Yuen Ang, Assistant Professor of Political Science, University of Michigan
Please pay attention: this Lecture is cancelled.
Before markets opened in 1978, China was an impoverished planned economy governed by a Maoist bureaucracy. In just three decades it evolved into the world’s second-largest economy and is today guided by highly entrepreneurial bureaucrats. What explains this amazing metamorphosis?
Was it because China possessed basic growth factors like cheap labor? Was it bureaucratic incentives to promote growth? The use of incremental reforms? Or historical legacies? Existing accounts each highlight a different piece of the grand puzzle of China’s great transformation. Yet none can explain how the other pieces aggregated to remake an entire political economy within the span of a single generation.
Yuen Yuen Ang presents a fresh, synthetic account of development that systematically traces the coevolution of markets and institutions. Her approach reveals a surprising finding: China escaped the poverty trap by first building markets with weak institutions—that is, institutions that defy norms of good governance. This sequence of development is found in other geographic and temporal settings, including late medieval Europe, antebellum United States, and contemporary Nigeria.
Yuen Yuen Ang is Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Michigan. Her book, How China Escaped the Poverty Trap, is released by Cornell University Press in September 2016, and included in its political economy series. She is a recipient of the Eldersveld Prize for outstanding research contributions from the University of Michigan’s Department of Political Science, two Early Career Fellowships from the American Council of Learned Societies, and a global essay prize on “The Future of Development Assistance” from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Ang’s scholarship integrates the study of development, complex systems, and Chinese political economy.
Image by: Horia Varlan, Old key chain in the shape of a small Earth globe, CC BY-SA 2.0,