Go Back

Photo of Timothy Besley

Timothy Besley Economist

The driving issue behind the Institutions, Organizations and Growth program is to understand what can sustain economic prosperity within and between nations.  Effective states lie at the centre of functional market economies and are needed to promote inclusive and sustainable economic change. Governments are needed to enforce laws, implement social programs and organized infrastructure.  This is only possible if there is suitable capacity to raise finance.

Timothy Besley’s research investigates how institutions shape economic policy decisions, particularly improving the quality of economic policy making and reducing instability.  Improving the rule of law and enhancing political accountability is core to this as is building a role of independent expert bodies.  His research also considers how changing norms and preferences affect how the economy evolves and shape policy decisions.  Many of the major changes in the economy in the past fifty years such as the economic empowerment of women and increasing international cooperation require that citizens and policy makers change their outlook.


Foreign Honorary Member, American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 2014.

President, European Economic Association, 2010.

Foreign Honorary Member, American Economic Association, 2007.

Yrjo Jahnsson Prize, 2005.

Fellow of the British Academy, 2001.

Fellow of the Econometric Society, 2000.

Relevant Publications

T. Besley and S. Coate, "An Economic Model of Representative Democracy," Quarterly Journal of Economics, vol. 112, no. 1, pp. 85-114, 1997.

T. Besley and R. Burgess, "The Political Economy of Government Responsiveness: Theory and Evidence from India," Quarterly Journal of Economics, vol. 117, no. 4, pp. 1415-1452, 2002.

T. Besley and M. Ghatak, "Competition and Incentives with Motivated Agents," American Economic Review, vol. 95, no. 3, pp. 616-636, 2005.

T. Besley and T. Persson, "The Origins of State Capacity: Property Rights, Taxation and Politics," American Economic Review, vol. 99, no. 4, pp. 1218-44, 2009.

T. Besley and H. Mueller, "Estimating the Peace Dividend: The Impact of Violence on House Prices in Northern Ireland," American Economic Review, vol. 102, no. 2, pp. 810-33, 2012.


T. Besley, Principled Agents? The Political Economy of Good Government, The Lindahl Lectures, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006. (Translations: Chinese, 2009; Hungarian 2011)

T. Besley, Pillars of Prosperity: The Political Economics of Development Clusters (with Torsten Persson), The Yrjö Jahnsson Lectures, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2011. (Translation: Chinese, 2015)

T. Besley, Tax by Design: The Mirrlees Review: Vol I: (joint author), Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011.



Senior Fellow Institutions, Organizations & Growth


London School of Economics & Political ScienceDepartment of Economics


PhD (Economics) Oxford University

MPhil (Economics) Oxford University

BA (Philosophy, Politics and Economics) Keble College, Oxford University


United Kingdom

No Assets Found

Sorry, we did not find any assets matching these filters.