Publications by Author:

Robert H Bates and Steven Block. 2014. “The Political Origins of the Africa’S Economic Revival”.Abstract

Writing in the 1990’s, William Easterly and Ross Levine famously labeled Africa a “growth tragedy”.1 Less than twenty years later, Alwyn Young noted Africa’s “growth miracle”2, while Steven Radelet less effusively pointed to an Africa that was “emerging” and noted its rising rate of economic growth, improving levels of education and health care, and increasing levels of investment in basic infrastructure: roads, ports, and transport3. In this paper, we address Africa’s economic revival. In doing so, we also stress the political changes that have taken place on the continent. Once notorious for its tyrants – Jean-­‐Bedel Bokassa, Idi Amin, and Mobutu Sese Seko, to name but three – in the 1990s, Africa joined the last wave of democratization; self-­‐appointed heads of state were replaced by rulers chosen in competitive elections. In this paper, we assert that the two sets of changes – the one economic and the other political – go together, and that, indeed, changes in Africa’s political institutions lent significant impetus to its economic revival.

Africa’s Development in Historical Perspective
2014. Africa’S Development in Historical Perspective. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Publisher's VersionAbstract

This edited volume addresses the root causes of Africa’s persistent poverty through an investigation of its longue durée history. It interrogates the African past through disease and demography, institutions and governance, African economies and the impact of the export slave trade, colonialism, Africa in the world economy, and culture’s influence on accumulation and investment. Several of the chapters take a comparative perspective, placing Africa’s developments aside other global patterns. The readership for this book spans from the informed lay reader with an interest in Africa, academics and undergraduate and graduate students, policy makers, and those in the development world.

Nancy Kleckner, Jay K Fisher, Mathieu Stouf, Martin A White, David Bates, and Guillaume Witz. 2014. “The Bacterial Nucleoid: Nature, Dynamics and Sister Segregation..” Curr Opin Microbiol, 22: 127-37, 2014 Dec.Abstract
Recent studies reveal that the bacterial nucleoid has a defined, self-adherent shape and an underlying longitudinal organization and comprises a viscoelastic matrix. Within this shape, mobility is enhanced by ATP-dependent processes and individual loci can undergo ballistic off-equilibrium movements. In Escherichia coli, two global dynamic nucleoid behaviors emerge pointing to nucleoid-wide accumulation and relief of internal stress. Sister segregation begins with local splitting of individual loci, which is delayed at origin, terminus and specialized interstitial snap regions. Globally, as studied in several systems, segregation is a multi-step process in which internal nucleoid state plays critical roles that involve both compaction and expansion. The origin and terminus regions undergo specialized programs partially driven by complex ATP burning mechanisms such as a ParAB Brownian ratchet and a septum-associated FtsK motor. These recent findings reveal strong, direct parallels among events in different systems and between bacterial nucleoids and mammalian chromosomes with respect to physical properties, internal organization and dynamic behaviors.
Robert H Bates and Steven Block. 2014. “Political Institutions and Productivity Growth In Africa’S “Renaissance””.Abstract

People speak of an “African renaissance.” We report and explore data that suggest that the continent’s return to positive growth can near entirely be explained by changes in total factor productivity growth. We find as well that changes in Africa’s political institutions played a major role in this transition and that the channel linking institutional change to changes in economic performance runs in significant part through changes in policy choices. We conclude with reasons to be cautious in assessments of the depth and durability of the changes in Africa’s economies.

Robert H Bates. 2012. “The Imperial Peace in Colonial Africa and Africa's Underdevelopment.” In . Cambridge University Press, Sep 18, 2012. Publisher's VersionAbstract
When praised at all, imperialism is most often commended for the peace it bestowed. By demobilizing armies, deposing marauding princes and subduing war-like states, European powers fashioned a half-century of political order. The question nonetheless arises: Should they be lauded for that? In this chapter, I view Africa’s history through the lens of comparative history and argue that the imperial peace may have retarded Africa’s development.
Robert H Bates. 2012. “Income and Democracy: Lipset’S Law Inverted.” Oxford Centre for the Analysis of Resource Rich Economies. Oxford Centre for the Analysis of Resource Rich Economies, Aug 1, 2012. Publisher's VersionAbstract
We revisit Lipset’s law, which posits a positive and significant relationship between income and democracy. Using dynamic and heterogeneous panel data estimation techniques, we find a significant and negative relationship between income and democracy: higher/lower incomes per capita hinder/trigger democratization. We thus challenge the recent empirical literature that found no such significant relationship. We attribute this result to the nature of the tax base, and exploit additional sources of heterogeneity. Decomposing overall income per capita into its resource and non-resource components, we find that the coefficient on the latter is positive and significant while that on the former is significant but negative.
Robert H Bates. 2012. “The New Institutionalism and Africa.” The Journal of African Politics. The Journal of African Politics, Aug 1, 2012. Publisher's VersionAbstract
After briefly reviewing the new institutionalism, this article uses the history of political reform in Africa to test its key tenet: that power, if properly organized, is a productive resource. It does so by exploring the relationship between changes in political institutions and changes in economic performance, both at the macro- and the micro-level. The evidence indicates that political reform (Granger) causes increases in GDP per capita in the African subset of global data. And, at the micro-level, it demonstrates that changes in national political institutions in Africa strongly relate to changes in total factor productivity in agriculture.
Brett Carter and Robert H Bates. 2012. “Public Policy, Price Shocks, and Civil War in Developing Countries,” Jan 23, 2012.Abstract
Those who study the role of agriculture in the political economy of development focus on government policy choices on the one hand and the impact of price shocks on the other. We argue that the two should be studied together. We nd that civil unrest (Granger) causes government policies, pushing governments in poor and medium income countries to shift relative prices in favor of urban consumers. We also nd that while civil wars are related to food price shocks, when government policy choices are taken into account, the relationship disappears. We thus learn two things: Policies that placate urban consumers may in ict economic costs on governments, but they confer political benets. And when estimating the relationship between price shocks and political stability, equations that omit the policy response of governments are misspecied.
Robert H Bates and Steven Block. 2012. “Revisiting African Agriculture: Institutional Change and Productivity Growth,” Aug 22, 2012.Abstract
Africa is largely agrarian and the performance of agriculture shapes the performance of its economies. It has long been argued that economic development in Africa is strongly conditioned by politics. Recent changes in Africa’s political systems enables us to test this argument and, by extension, broader claims about the impact of political institutions on economic development. Building on a recent analysis of total factor productivity growth in African agriculture, we find that the introduction of competitive presidential elections in the last decades of the 20th Century appears to have altered political incentives, resulting in policy reforms that have enhanced the performance of farmers.
Robert H Bates. 2012. “The State of Democracy in Sub-Saharan Africa.” International Area Studies Review. International Area Studies Review, Aug 1, 2012. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Africa experienced a wave of democratization over the past 20 years and this increase in democracy, we find, positively and significantly affects income per capita. Our dynamic panel data results suggest that countries only slowly converge to their long-run income values as predicted by current democracy levels, however: African countries may therefore be currently too democratic relative to their income levels. In keeping with this possibility, a significant number of countries experience political ‘back sliding’: elections are won by the use of illicit tactics, term limits on political leaders have been overturned and there have been unconstitutional seizures of power.
Mohan C Joshi, Aude Bourniquel, Jay Fisher, Brian T Ho, David Magnan, Nancy Kleckner, and David Bates. 2011. “Escherichia Coli Sister Chromosome Separation Includes an Abrupt Global Transition with Concomitant Release of Late-Splitting Intersister Snaps..” Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 7, 108: 2765-70, 2011 Feb 15.Abstract
The basis for segregation of sister chromosomes in bacteria is not established. We show here that two discrete ~150-kb regions, both located early in the right replichore, exhibit prolonged juxtaposition of sister loci, for 20 and 30 min, respectively, after replication. Flanking regions, meanwhile, separate. Thus, the two identified regions comprise specialized late-splitting intersister connections or snaps. Sister snap loci separate simultaneously in both snap regions, concomitant with a major global nucleoid reorganization that results in emergence of a bilobed nucleoid morphology. Split snap loci move rapidly apart to a separation distance comparable with one-half the length of the nucleoid. Concomitantly, at already split positions, sister loci undergo further separation to a comparable distance. The overall consequence of these and other effects is that thus far replicated sister chromosomes become spatially separated (individualized) into the two nucleoid lobes, while the terminus region (and likely, all unreplicated portions of the chromosome) moves to midcell. These and other findings imply that segregation of Escherichia coli sister chromosomes is not a smooth continuous process but involves at least one and likely, two major global transition(s). The presented patterns further suggest that accumulation of internal intranucleoid forces and constraining of these forces by snaps play central roles in global chromosome dynamics. They are consistent with and supportive of our previous proposals that individualization of sisters in E. coli is driven primarily by internally generated pushing forces and is directly analogous to sister individualization at the prophase to prometaphase transition of the eukaryotic cell cycle.
Edward H Shortliffe, David W Bates, Meryl Bloomrosen, Karen Greenwood, Charles Safran, Elaine B Steen, Paul C Tang, and Jeffrey J Williamson. 2009. “Don E. Detmer and the American Medical Informatics Association: An Appreciation..” J Am Med Inform Assoc, 4, 16: 429-38, 2009 Jul-Aug.Abstract
Don E. Detmer has served as President and Chief Executive Officer of the American Medical Informatics Association (AMIA) for the past five years, helping to set a course for the organization and demonstrating remarkable leadership as AMIA has evolved into a vibrant and influential professional association. On the occasion of Dr. Detmer's retirement, we fondly reflect on his professional life and his many contributions to biomedical informatics and, more generally, to health care in the U.S. and globally.
Saul N Weingart, Hope E Hamrick, Sharon Tutkus, Alexander Carbo, Daniel Z Sands, Anjala Tess, Roger B Davis, David W Bates, and Russell S Phillips. 2008. “Medication Safety Messages for Patients via the Web Portal: The MedCheck Intervention..” Int J Med Inform, 3, 77: 161-8, 2008 Mar.Abstract
OBJECTIVE: Communication failures account for many adverse drug events (ADEs) in adult primary care. Improving patient-physician communication may improve medication safety. Accordingly, the goal of this study was to learn whether electronic medication safety messages directed to patients can improve communication about medications and identify ADEs. DESIGN: We studied adult patients enrolled in a patient Internet portal at three primary care practices affiliated with a teaching hospital. MedCheck, a medication safety application, sent patients a secure electronic message 10 days after they received a new or changed prescription. MedCheck asked if the patient had filled the prescription or experienced medication-related problems, and then forwarded the patient's response to their primary care physician. MEASUREMENTS: We selected a stratified random sample of 267 subjects from 1821 patients who received and opened a MedCheck message from April 2001 to June 2002. We reviewed subjects' medical records for three months following their first MedCheck message. We analyzed patient and clinician response rates and times, examined patient-clinician communication about medications, and identified ADEs. RESULTS: Patients opened 79% of MedCheck messages and responded to 12%; 77% responded within 1 day. Patients often identified problems filling their prescriptions (48%), problems with drug effectiveness (12%), and medication symptoms (10%). Clinicians responded to 68% of patients' messages; 93% answered within 1 week. Clinicians often supplied or requested information (19%), or made multiple recommendations (15%). Patients experienced 21 total ADEs; they reported 17 electronically. CONCLUSION: Patients and physicians responded promptly to patient-directed electronic medication messages, identifying and addressing medication-related problems including ADEs.
Robert H Bates and Steven Block. 2008. “The Political Economy of Agricultural Trade Interventions in Africa,” May 7, 2008.Abstract
In this chapter, we explore patterns of variation in the content of agricultural policies in Africa. We look at the impact of the government’s need for revenues, the incentives for farmers to lobby, and their capacity to affect electoral outcomes. We also explore the political impact of regional inequality, especially insofar as it is generated by cash crop production. These factors operate in ways that deepen our appreciation of the impact of politics on the making of agricultural policies.
Robert H Bates, Benno J Ndulu, and Augustin K Fosu. 2008. The Political Economy of Economic Growth in Africa, 1960–2000. Cambridge University Press, Feb 1, 2008. Publisher's VersionAbstract
The period from 1960 to 2000 was one of remarkable growth and transformation in the world economy. Why did most of Sub-Saharan Africa fail to develop over this period? Why did a few small African economies succeed spectacularly? The Political Economy of Economic Growth in Africa, 1960–2000 is by far the most ambitious and comprehensive assessment of Africa's post-independence economic performance to date. Volume 2 supports and extends the analysis of African economic growth presented in the first volume by providing twenty-six case studies of individual African economies. The book is broken into three parts based on the three main types of economy found in Sub-Saharan Africa: landlocked, coastal and resource-rich. Eighteen of the case studies are contained in the book and a further eight are included on an accompanying CD-Rom. This is an invaluable resource for researchers and policy-makers concerned with the economic development of Africa.
Robert H Bates. 2008. When Things Fell Apart . Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. WebsiteAbstract
the later decades of the 20th century, Africa plunged into political chaos. States failed, governments became predators, and citizens took up arms. In When Things Fell Apart, Robert H. Bates advances an explanation of state failure in Africa. In so doing, he not only plumbs the depths of the continent's late-century tragedy, but also the logic of political order and the foundations of the state. This book covers a wide range of territory by drawing on materials from Rwanda, Sudan, Liberia, and Congo. Written to be accessible to the general reader, it is nonetheless a must-read for scholars and policy makers concerned with political conflict and state failure.
Robert H Bates. 2008. When Things Fell Apart: State Failure in Late-Century Africa. Cambridge University Press, Apr 1, 2008. Publisher's VersionAbstract
In the later decades of the twentieth century, Africa plunged into political chaos. States failed, governments became predators, and citizens took up arms. In When Things Fell Apart, Robert H. Bates advances an exploration of state failure in Africa. In so doing, he not only plumbs the depths of the continent's late-century tragedy, but also the logic of political order and the foundations of the state. This book covers a wide range of territory by drawing on materials from Rwanda, Sudan, Liberia, and Congo. A must-read for scholars and policy makers concerned with political conflict and state failure.
Alan J Kaufman, David T Johnston, James Farquhar, Andrew L Masterson, Timothy W Lyons, Steven Bates Ariel Anbar, Gail L Arnold, Jessica Garvin, and Roger Buick. 2007. “Late Archean Biospheric Oxygenation and Atmospheric Evolution.” Science, 5846, 317: 1900-1903. doi:10.1126/science.1138700.
J. N. Eisenberg, M. A. Desai, K. Levy, S. J. Bates, S. Liang, K. Naumoff, and J. C. Scott. 2007. “Environmental Determinants of Infectious Disease: A Framework for Tracking Causal Links and Guiding Public Health Research.” Environ Health Perspect. 20070810th ed., 115: 1216-23, Aug. Publisher's VersionAbstract

BACKGROUND: Discoveries that emerging and re-emerging pathogens have their origin in environmental change has created an urgent need to understand how these environmental changes impact disease burden. In this article we present a framework that provides a context from which to examine the relationship between environmental changes and disease transmission and a structure from which to unite disparate pieces of information from a variety of disciplines. METHODS: The framework integrates three interrelated characteristics of environment-disease relationships: a) Environmental change manifests in a complex web of ecologic and social factors that may ultimately impact disease; these factors are represented as those more distally related and those more proximally related to disease. b) Transmission dynamics of infectious pathogens mediate the effects that environmental changes have on disease. c) Disease burden is the outcome of the interplay between environmental change and the transmission cycle of a pathogen. RESULTS: To put this framework into operation, we present a matrix formulation as a means to define important elements of this system and to summarize what is known and unknown about the these elements and their relationships. The framework explicitly expresses the problem at a systems level that goes beyond the traditional risk factor analysis used in public health, and the matrix provides a means to explicitly express the coupling of different system components. CONCLUSION: This coupling of environmental and disease transmission processes provides a much-needed construct for furthering our understanding of both specific and general relationships between environmental change and infectious disease.

JNS Eisenberg, W. Cevallos, K. Ponce, K. Levy, and S. J. Bates. 2006. “Environmental Change and Infectious Disease: How New Roads Affect the Transmission of Diarrheal Pathogens in Rural Ecuador..” In E Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 103. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Environmental change plays a large role in the emergence of infectious disease. The construction of a new road in a previously roadless area of northern coastal Ecuador provides a valuable natural experiment to examine how changes in the social and natural environment, mediated by road construction, affect the epidemiology of diarrheal diseases. Twenty-one villages were randomly selected to capture the full distribution of village population size and distance from a main road (remoteness), and these were compared with the major population center of the region, Borbón, that lies on the road. Estimates of enteric pathogen infection rates were obtained from case-control studies at the village level. Higher rates of infection were found in nonremote vs. remote villages [pathogenic Escherichia coli: odds ratio (OR) = 8.4, confidence interval (CI) 1.6, 43.5; rotavirus: OR = 4.0, CI 1.3, 12.1; and Giardia: OR = 1.9, CI 1.3, 2.7]. Higher rates of all-cause diarrhea were found in Borbón compared with the 21 villages (RR = 2.0, CI 1.5, 2.8), as well as when comparing nonremote and remote villages (OR = 2.7, CI 1.5, 4.8). Social network data collected in parallel offered a causal link between remoteness and disease. The significant and consistent trends across viral, bacterial, and protozoan pathogens suggest the importance of considering a broad range of pathogens with differing epidemiological patterns when assessing the environmental impact of new roads. This study provides insight into the initial health impacts that roads have on communities and into the social and environmental processes that create these impacts.