Third 3ie Howard White Lecture
Venue: John Snow (A) Lecture Theatre, LSHTM
Date: 11 April, 17:30 to 19:00
Prof Leonard Wantchekon, Founder, Institute for Empirical Research in Political Economy, Benin; and Professor of Politics and affiliate, Economics Department at Princeton University.
Institutions are a vital part of the way we make decisions about policies and implement them, but most randomised experiments only focus on the policy itself. In the 2016 Howard White Lecture, Leonard Wantchekon called for more rigorous evaluations of political institutions and policymaking and how they would work, referencing research he and colleagues did in Benin and the Philippines. They found greater vote share for the party that participated in policy-focused deliberation in both countries. In Benin, deliberation also increased voter turnout. People demand better politics, and if politicians change their behaviour, they are rewarded.
Leonard Wantchekon is a professor in the Politics Department and associated faculty in the Economics Department at Princeton University. Prior to joining Princeton, he was on the faculty of New York University (2001–2011) and Yale University (1995–2001). He received his PhD in Economics from Northwestern University (1995) and his MA in Economics from Laval University and the University of British Columbia (1992). He broadly focuses his research on political and economic development, particularly in Africa, and his specific interests include topics such as democratisation, clientelism and redistributive politics, resource curse and the long-term social impact of historical events. He is the author of numerous publications in leading academic journals, including ‘The slave trade and the origins of mistrust in Africa’ (with Nathan Nunn) in The American Economic Review (2011); ‘The paradox of “warlord” democracy: a theoretical investigation’ in the American Political Science Review (2004); ‘Clientelism and voting behavior: a field experiment in Benin’ in World Politics (2003); and ‘Electoral competition under the threat of political unrest’ (with Matthew Ellman) in The Quarterly Journal of Economics (2000).
Professor Wantchekon is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and of the Executive Committee of the Council for International Teaching and Research at Princeton. He served as the secretary of the American Political Science Association (2008–2009) and on the Ibrahim Index Technical Committee (2009–2013). Finally, he is a core partner director at the Afrobarometer Network and the founder of the African School of Economics, which opened in Benin in 2014.