James Robinson

University Professor
Harris School of Public Policy Studies

James Robinson, whose pathbreaking work is said to have redefined the field of political development, is the 21st person to hold a University Professorship at the University of Chicago. His research focuses on political economy, comparative politics, and economic and political development, with a particular interest in Latin America and Sub-Saharan Africa. Some of his best-known work looks at the conditions and institutions that shape national and global economic outcomes.

He has written or co-authored numerous books and articles, including the widely acclaimed Economic Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy and Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty. Listed by the United Kingdom–based Prospect magazine as one of the “World Thinkers 2013,” Robinson was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He was a Florence Gould Foundation Fellow at the Paris School of Economics, a Carnegie Scholar, and a Susan Louise Dyer Peace Fellow at the Hoover Institution.

Robinson obtained his PhD from Yale University, his MA at the University of Warwick, and his BSc from the London School of Economics and Political Science. Previously, he was the Wilbur A. Cowett Professor of Government at Harvard University and a faculty associate at Harvard’s Institute for Quantitative Social Science and the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs.

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