Tim Besley

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Sir Tim Besley

Born (1960-09-14) 14 September 1960 (age 58)
InstitutionLondon School of Economics, All Souls College, Oxford
FieldPolitical economics
Alma materUniversity of Oxford
W.M. Gorman
Dave Donaldson (economist)
Rohini Pande
InfluencesJames Mirrlees
James M. Buchanan
Amartya Sen
ContributionsCitizen-candidate model, Political Agency Models, Economics of State Capacity
AwardsYrjö Jahnsson Award (2005) John von Neumann Award (2010)
Information at IDEAS / RePEc

Sir Timothy John Besley, CBE, FBA (born 14 September 1960) is a British academic economist who is School Professor of Economics and Political Science and Sir W. Arthur Lewis Professor of Development Economics at the London School of Economics. He is also a two-year fellow at All Souls College, Oxford. Since 2015, he has been a commissioner on the National Infrastructure Commission.

Early life and education[edit]

Born in Lincolnshire,[1] Besley attended Aylesbury Grammar School, and then studied at Oxford University, where he gained a B.A. in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics (1st Class) from Keble College, Oxford and an M.Phil. and a D.Phil. in Economics having been elected an Examination Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford in 1984. At Oxford, he was one of the most successful students, evidenced by winning three George Webb Medley Prizes for his BA and M.Phil. exam performance.


His first position was as an assistant professor in the economics department and Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University before returning to the UK in 1995 as Professor of Economics at LSE. He has served as the Director of the Suntory-Toyota International Centres for Economics and Related Disciplines (STICERD), and a member of the Steering Group for the International Growth Centre. He served on the Bank of England's Monetary Policy Committee from September 2006 to August 2009.

Professional Activities[edit]

He is a research fellow of the Centre for Economic Policy Research and a member of the Institutions, Organizations and Growth Program of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research. He has served as a consultatent to the World Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. He is a past research fellow of the Institute for Fiscal Studies and was a member of the Mirrlees Review committee.


Besley's research interests are focused on aspects of economic policy formation in developed and emerging market economies. He is one of the leading economists involved in restoring the study of political economy to prominence in mainstream economics.

His main books include:

"Principled Agents: The Political Economy of Good Government", Oxford University Press, 2006.

"Pillars of Prosperity: The Political Economics of Development Clusters", Princeton University Press, 2011 (with Torsten Persson).

Among his most important articles are:

“Incumbent Behavior: Vote Seeking, Tax Setting and Yardstick Competition” (with Anne Case). American Economic Review, 85 (1), 25-45, 1995.

“Property Rights and Investment Incentives: Theory and Evidence from Ghana,” Journal of Political Economy, 103(5), 903-937, 1995.

“An Economic Model of Representative Democracy” (with Stephen Coate), Quarterly Journal of Economics, 112(1), 85-114, 1997.

“The Political Economy of Government Responsiveness: Theory and Evidence from India,” (with Robin Burgess), Quarterly Journal of Economics, 117(4), 1415-1452, 2002.

“Competition and Incentives with Motivated Agents,” (with Maitreesh Ghatak), American Economic Review, 95(3), 616-636, 2005.

“The Origins of State Capacity: Property Rights, Taxation and Politics,” (with Torsten Persson) American Economic Review, 99(4), 1218-44, 2009.

“The Logic of Political Violence,” (with Torsten Persson) Quarterly Journal of Economics, 126 (3), 1411-1446, 2011.

Honours and awards[edit]

He is a Fellow of the British Academy, a fellow of the Econometric Society and is a foreign honorary member of the American Economic Association and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He is a past co-editor of American Economic Review — the first person to serve in this position not based at a US university. He is the 2010 president of the European Economic Association. From 2014 to 2017, he served as president of the International Economic Association. In 2018, he will serve as President of the Econometric Society. In 2005, he won the Yrjö Jahnsson Award for European economics and he was awarded the 2010 John von Neumann Award by the Rajk László College for Advanced Studies at Corvinus University of Budapest.[2] Besley was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2010 Birthday Honours for services to Social Science and a Knight Bachelor in the 2018 New Year Honours for services to Economics and Public Policy.[3][4]

Personal life[edit]

Besley has been married to Dr Gillian Paull since 1993 and has two sons; Thomas and Oliver. He lives in the Barnes area of London.


  • Principled agents?: the political economy of good government, Oxford University Press, 2006, ISBN 978-0-19-927150-4
  • Delivering on the promise of pro-poor growth: insights and lessons from country experiences, Editors Timothy Besley, Louise Cord, World Bank Publications, 2007, ISBN 978-0-8213-6515-1


  1. ^ "Index entry". FreeBMD. ONS. Retrieved 30 December 2017.
  2. ^ Sanchari (17 February 2010). "EOPP Blog: Tim Besley receives the John von Neumann Award 2010".
  3. ^ "No. 59446". The London Gazette (Supplement). 12 June 2010. p. 7.
  4. ^ "No. 62150". The London Gazette (Supplement). 30 December 2017. p. N2.
Academic offices
Preceded by
Drew Fudenberg
President of the Econometric Society