Current Institutional Affiliation
Global Economic Development Practice Manager, McKinsey & Company

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2009
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
Political Science, University of California / Berkeley
City-States in the International Economy: Changing Development Strategies and Social Compacts in Dubai, Bahrain, Singapore, and Hong Kong

My research project investigates why rulers within two pairs of similar city-states in the Middle East and East/Southeast Asia have implemented diverging policy approaches to shared economic challenges and goals. Focusing on two oil and gas exporters in the Persian Gulf and two Asian "Tigers," this project examines why leaders in Bahrain and Hong Kong have taken steps to restructure social compacts in these polities, while leaders in Dubai and Singapore have not. All four states are endeavoring to reorganize their economies (focusing on bolstering a common group of international service sectors) in response to changing conditions in the international economy, and all four face competing pressures to enhance fiscal discipline and to protect their populations from social dislocations associated with these transformations. Yet despite important structural similarities within each regional pair, including comparable natural resource endowments, workforce compositions, and levels of welfare provision, intra-regional variation emerges within each similar pair of cases. Hong Kong has substantially retrenched it welfare spending, and Bahrain has become the only GCC state to impose and income tax (intended to finance welfare programs), while Singapore and Dubai have not significantly altered the scope or financing of their welfare systems. This project will evaluate two hypotheses concerning the possible roles of (1) a relatively high degree of state autonomy and (2) high intensity regional economic competition in shaping this variation. Responding to literatures on globalization, late development and the developmental state, and the rentier state, this project will analyze the causes of both cross-regional convergence in all four states' long-term development strategies and intra-regional divergence in specific policy approaches to attaining similar goals.