Department of Economics

Professor Daron Acemoglu - Honorary Degree, Public Lecture and Workshop

Tue Mar 21 14:35:00 GMT 2017

As part of the University’s 50th anniversary celebrations, Professor Daron Acemoglu was awarded the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa, on 1st March 2017. He is the Elizabeth and James Killian Professor of Economics in the Department of Economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Professor Daron Acemoglu

 
Dr Javier Rivas, Professor Daron Acemoglu and Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor Bernie Morley

(left to right) Dr Javier Rivas, Professor Daron Acemoglu and Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor Bernie Morley

 
 

Professor Acemoglu is is a world-leading economist, known for his work on the importance of institutions for economic development. He is the author of several books including "Why nations fail" and "Economic Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy" (both co-authored by James Robinson from the University of Chicago), the latter of which has received numerous awards such as the George S. Eccles Award for Excellence and the Best Political Book of the Year Award. In these books as well as in his academic papers, his ability to mathematically model phenomena such as revolutions and coup d’états and his expertise at empirically testing these models with real world data is second to none, and his models and instruments have inspired countless work by others.

Professor Acemoglu is also committed to the application of these ideas to the benefit of society. He is a member of the Economic Growth program of the Canadian Institute of Advanced Research, the National Bureau of Economic Research in the US, the Center for Economic Performance, the International Growth Centre and the Centre for Economic Policy Research in the UK. Currently, Prof. Acemoglu is an associate editor of the Journal of Economic Growth. From 2011 to 2015, he was the editor of Econometrica. Additionally, he has served on the editorial boards of numerous other journals such as The Review of Economic Studies and the Journal of Economic Literature.

Watch the ceremony

About the lecture

 
Professor Daron Acemoglu gives his lecture following his honorary degree ceremony

In his lecture, Professor Acemoglu focused on the balance of power, and the race between state and society.

 
 

In his lecture, Professor Acemoglu focused on the balance of power, and the race between state and society. He explored the concept of a Shackled Leviathan; a state which has the capacity to resolve conflicts and provide public services, but is constantly checked and challenged; 'shackled' by society. He described how the Shackled Leviathan underpins many dimensions of human progress, including the ability of most people to achieve greater prosperity and security and live without constant fear of violence, bullying and intimidation from others.

He showed that the emergence of a capable state as epitomized by the Shackled Leviathan necessitates not the ability of the state and political actors controlling it to dominate the rest of society, but a powerful society to compete against, threaten and constrain the state. The path in which the state and society gain greater capacity in a perpetual race with each other is central to both to the fundamental contribution of capable states to human met welfare and to the development of an assertive, mobile and active society. However, he also pointed to the inherent fragility of this balance of power between state and society.

Before the ceremony, Professor Acemoglu joined Dr Javier Rivas and other academics from the Department of Economics for a workshop on "Robots and Jobs: Evidence from US Labour Markets".

Watch the lecture