Almost every major episode of economic change over the past 200 years of political history has been associated with key personalities coming to power with a commitment to these changes. But if such dynamic leaders are so important, then we need to understand how they come to hold the reins of power. This outcome could be viewed as largely the product of random events colored by idiosyncratic personalities and chance encounters. However, at least some role must be given to the underlying institutional structure, which has a more systematic influence on who rises to the top. Thus, it is essential to understand how political selection works.
Journal of Economic Perspectives,