James A. Robinson (economist)

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James A. Robinson
James A. Robinson in Ukraine in June 2018
Robinson in 2018
Academic background
Alma materYale University (Ph.D. 1993)
University of Warwick (M.A. 1986)
London School of Economics (BSc 1982)
Doctoral advisorTruman Bewley
Academic work
InstitutionsUniversity of Chicago
Harvard University
University of California at Berkeley
University of Southern California
University of Melbourne

James Alan Robinson (born 1960) is a British economist and political scientist. He is currently the Reverend Dr. Richard L. Pearson Professor of Global Conflict Studies and University Professor at the Harris School of Public Policy, University of Chicago.[1][2] He also serves as the Institute Director of The Pearson Institute for the Study and Resolution of Global Conflicts at the Harris School.[3] Robinson has previously taught at Harvard University between 2004 and 2015 and also at the University of California, Berkeley, University of Southern California and the University of Melbourne.

He studies what makes countries different by focusing on the underlying economic and political institutions that lead some to prosperity and others to conflict. With Daron Acemoglu, he is the co-author of books such as The Narrow Corridor, Why Nations Fail and Economic Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy.[4]


Robinson studied economics at the London School of Economics (BSc), the University of Warwick (MA) and Yale University (PhD). His main research interests are in comparative economic and political development with a focus on the long-run with a particular interest in Latin America and Sub-Saharan Africa.

In 2004, he was appointed Associate Professor of Government at Harvard. He later held named chair positions at Harvard, first as the David Florence Professor of Government (2009-2014) and later as the Wilbur A. Cowett Professor of Government (2014-2015).[5] On July 1, 2015, he was appointed as one of nine University Professor at the Harris School of Public Policy Studies of the University of Chicago.[6] He also holds the title Reverend Dr. Richard L. Pearson Professor of Global Conflict Studies. On 9 May 2016, professor Robinson was awarded honorary doctor's degree by the National University of Mongolia during his first visit to the country.[7]

He has conducted research in countries around the world including Botswana, Chile, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Haiti, the Philippines, Sierra Leone, South Africa and Colombia where he teaches every summer at the University of the Andes in Bogotá.[8]

He has collaborated extensively with long-time co-author Daron Acemoglu after meeting at the London School of Economics.[9]


  • James A. Robinson; Daron Acemoglu (2019). The Narrow Corridor: States, Societies, and the Fate of Liberty. New York: Penguin Press. ISBN 978-0735224384.
  • James A. Robinson; Emmanuel Akyeampong; Robert H. Bates; Nathan Nunn, eds. (2014). Africa's Development in Historical Perspective. New York: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-1107691209.
  • James A. Robinson; Alice H. Amsden; Alisa DiCaprio, eds. (2012). The Role of Elites in Economic Development. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-965903-6.
  • James A. Robinson; Daron Acemoglu (2012). Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity and Poverty. New York: Crown Business. ISBN 978-0307719218.
  • James A. Robinson; Jared Diamond, eds. (2010). Natural Experiments of History. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. ISBN 978-0-674-03557-7.
  • James A. Robinson; Klaus Wiegandt, eds. (2008). Die Ursprünge der modernen Welt: Geschichte im wissenschaftlichen Vergleich (in German). Frankfurt: Fischer Taschenbuch Verlag. ISBN 978-3596179343.
  • James A. Robinson; Miguel Urrutia, eds. (2007). Economía Colombiana del Siglo XX: Un Análisis Cuantitativo (in Spanish). Bogotá and México D.F.: Fondo de Cultura Económica. ISBN 978-9583801396.
  • James A. Robinson; Daron Acemoglu (2006). Economic Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-67142-6.

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