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Chris Blattman

Chris Blattman

Political economist studying conflict, crime, and poverty, and @UChicago Professor @HarrisPolicy and @PearsonInst. I blog at http://chrisblattman.com

Articles by Chris Blattman

Why you or your students should apply to the PhD program at UChicago Harris

October 31, 2017

Professors who advise students on PhDs, and students thinking about a PhD: if you read this blog, there’s a good chance you should consider the PhD in public policy at UChicago Harris Public Policy.
The Harris PhD has a cohort of about 10 students per year. It has traditionally been strong in several areas: applied microeconomics, political economy of democracies, energy/environment, health, and education. The core PhD curriculum combines traditional economics training (microeconomics, applied econometrics) with political economy methods (i.e. formal theory).
Recently we’ve grown the political economy of development and conflict group. This is partly thanks to The Pearson Institute here at Harris. Between the new concentration of faculty, and the emphasis on the most rigorous training in

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Why you or your students should apply to the PhD program at UChicago Harris

October 31, 2017

Professors who advise students on PhDs, and students thinking about a PhD: if you read this blog, there’s a good chance you should consider the PhD in public policy at UChicago Harris Public Policy.
The Harris PhD has a cohort of about 10 students per year. It has traditionally been strong in several areas: applied microeconomics, political economy of democracies, energy/environment, health, and education. The core PhD curriculum combines traditional economics training (microeconomics, applied econometrics) with political economy methods (i.e. formal theory).
Recently we’ve grown the political economy of development and conflict group. This is partly thanks to The Pearson Institute here at Harris. Between the new concentration of faculty, and the emphasis on the most rigorous training

Read More »

Why you or your students should apply to the PhD program at UChicago Harris

October 31, 2017

Professors who advise students on PhDs, and students thinking about a PhD: if you read this blog, there’s a good chance you should consider the PhD in public policy at UChicago Harris Public Policy.
The Harris PhD has a cohort of about 10 students per year. It has traditionally been strong in several areas: applied microeconomics, political economy of democracies, energy/environment, health, and education. The core PhD curriculum combines traditional economics training (microeconomics, applied econometrics) with political economy methods (i.e. formal theory).
Recently we’ve grown the political economy of development and conflict group. This is partly thanks to The Pearson Institute here at Harris. Between the new concentration of faculty, and the emphasis on the most rigorous training in

Read More »

Why I am not blogging anymore

September 6, 2017

Some of you have asked. I haven’t been blogging for many months, and I don’t see myself starting again in the next 6-9 months. But I am fairly sure I will start again in 2018.
“There are not enough hours in the day” was always a problem, and so it can’t explain the change. “I’m taking a break” is part of the story. But there are better explanations.
I am writing a book. Dani Rodrik stopped blogging for the same reason. He said that his brain only can think and write about so much at one time. I am pausing for the same reason. I woke up one day in July and unexpectedly wrote a page, and I didn’t stop. I am 100 pages in now, which amazes even me. The best one-line description is the subtitle of the course I’ve taught for 10 years: Why are some places poor, violent, and oppressive, and what

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Why I am not blogging anymore

September 6, 2017

Some of you have asked. I haven’t been blogging for many months, and I don’t see myself starting again in the next 6-9 months. But I am fairly sure I will start again in 2018.
“There are not enough hours in the day” was always a problem, and so it can’t explain the change. “I’m taking a break” is part of the story. But there are better explanations.
I am writing a book. Dani Rodrik stopped blogging for the same reason. He said that his brain only can think and write about so much at one time. I am pausing for the same reason. I woke up one day in July and unexpectedly wrote a page, and I didn’t stop. I am 100 pages in now, which amazes even me. The best one-line description is the subtitle of the course I’ve taught for 10 years: Why are some places poor, violent, and oppressive, and

Read More »

Why I am not blogging anymore

September 6, 2017

Some of you have asked. I haven’t been blogging for many months, and I don’t see myself starting again in the next 6-9 months. But I am fairly sure I will start again in 2018.
“There are not enough hours in the day” was always a problem, and so it can’t explain the change. “I’m taking a break” is part of the story. But there are better explanations.
I am writing a book. Dani Rodrik stopped blogging for the same reason. He said that his brain only can think and write about so much at one time. I am pausing for the same reason. I woke up one day in July and unexpectedly wrote a page, and I didn’t stop. I am 100 pages in now, which amazes even me. The best one-line description is the subtitle of the course I’ve taught for 10 years: Why are some places poor, violent, and oppressive, and what

Read More »

Final lecture: Order & Violence

May 22, 2017

There were supposed to be 10 weeks to the quarter but turns out UChicago doesn’t do a makeup day for Memorial Day! So some major surgery later, my last two lectures fit into one. This is just as well because I don’t know that much about democratization.
Thanks to everyone for the comments and suggestions over the quarter. One of these days, maybe soon, I would like to write this up into a book. So critical comments are valuable.
My syllabus is here and the slides are here:
Week 9 – Democracy promotion & wrap-up
Week 8 – State building without war making
Week 7 – Armed interventions
Week 6 – Legacies of Imperialism and post-colonial politics
Week 5 – The State and Society
Week 4 – Institutions
Week 3 – State development
Week 2 – Conflict
Week 1 – The demand for order

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Week 8 of my Order & Violence course: State building without war making

May 17, 2017

This week’s lecture draws heavily on one of the most important books on development I’ve ever read: Building State Capability by Harvard’s Matt Andrews, Lant Pritchett, and Michael Woodcock. It is open access and you can download it for free. If you hate trees but love the authors, buy a print copy.
My syllabus is here and the slides are here:
Week 8 – State building without war making
Week 7 – Armed interventions
Week 6 – Legacies of Imperialism and post-colonial politics
Week 5 – The State and Society
Week 4 – Institutions
Week 3 – State development
Week 2 – Conflict
Week 1 – The demand for order

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The conformity of economics papers?

May 13, 2017

Noah Smith has a fantastic essay on the problem with economics papers. Some excerpts:
…in practice, I think what often happens in econ is more like the following:
1. Some papers make structural models, observe that these models can fit (or sort-of fit) a couple of stylized facts, and call it a day. Economists who like these theories (based on intuition, plausibility, or the fact that their dissertation adviser made the model) then use them for policy predictions forever after, without ever checking them rigorously against empirical evidence.
2. Other papers do purely empirical work, using simple linear models. Economists then use these linear models to make policy predictions (“Minimum wages don’t have significant disemployment effects”).
3. A third group of papers do empirical work,

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Weeks 1 to 7 of my Order & Violence course

May 10, 2017

The syllabus is here and the slides are here:
Week 7 – Armed interventions
Week 6 – Legacies of Imperialism and post-colonial politics
Week 5 – The State and Society
Week 4 – Institutions
Week 3 – State development
Week 2 – Conflict
Week 1 – The demand for order

Read More »