Essays on State Building and Economic Development
Henn, Soeren J.
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CitationHenn, Soeren J. 2019. Essays on State Building and Economic Development. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University, Graduate School of Arts & Sciences.
AbstractState building signifies a crucial challenge for economic development. Many states in the developing world lack sufficient capacity to adequately govern their territory, provide services, and promote economic growth. An increasing number of the world's most vulnerable and poor people live in so-called ``fragile'' or ``weak'' states. Improving the political and economic prospects of these populations requires an understanding of what shapes and hinders the state building process in these environments and how it might be improved.
In my dissertation, I explore the characteristics and impacts of state building in fragile and weak states, a setting where empirical evidence is scarce and existing theories offer competing hypotheses. Informed by fieldwork and qualitative interviews, I combine large and novel datasets with a variety of methods to identify causal relationships. Throughout my dissertation I study the consequences of state building on local power dynamics involving non-state actors, state agents, and citizens and evaluate ways in which our knowledge of these processes can help us improve state building. Specifically, my dissertation studies i) how state building affects the power, legitimacy, and effectiveness of village chiefs in Sub-Saharan Africa, ii) how rulers chose whether to govern territory via pre-existing institutions or establish their own governing structures and iii) what constraints state capacity investments and whether a top-down intervention may improve state building.
Citable link to this pagehttp://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:42029742
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