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Hilton L. Root

Professor of Public Policy
Hilton L. Root



3351 Fairfax Dr., MS 3B1
Arlington, Virginia 22201


Fax: 703-993-8215



Dr. Hilton Root is a policy specialist in international political economy and development, and a member of the faculty at the George Mason University Schar School of Policy and Government. His current research examines three related areas: (1) global power transition and the challenge of legitimacy; (2) the comparative and historical dynamics of state-building; and (3) the use of complexity models to understand the evolution of social institutions.

He is currently a Professor at the George Mason Schar School of Policy and Government. Other academic appointments include: visiting Professor at King’s College London, visiting Senior Fellow at the Institute for Economic Affairs (IEA) London, faculty member at the California Institute of Technology, University of Pennsylvania, and Stanford University, a Freeman Visiting Professor of Economics at Pitzer College, and Senior Fellow at Claremont Graduate University. Dr. Root was Director and Senior Fellow of Global Studies at the Milken Institute, and Senior Research Fellow and Director of the Initiative on Economic Growth and Democracy at the Hoover Institution.

As a policy adviser, Dr. Root has helped put institutions on the global development agenda. He served the U.S. Treasury as senior adviser on development finance 2001-2002, and was one of the originators of the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC). He advises the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank, the U.N. Development Programme (UNDP), the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the U.S. State Department, the U.S. Treasury Department, and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). He has completed projects in more than 25 countries. As team leader of “Enhancing Government Effectiveness,” a USAID-funded program, he directed projects in five Muslim-majority countries: the West Bank/Gaza, Morocco, Indonesia, Pakistan, and Yemen. He has helped re-engineer the Planning Commission of the Government of Pakistan in 2010-2011, a USAID/CSF-Pakistan initiative on intergovernmental finance and devolution. In 2013-2014, he prepared Systems Modeling Support for Diagnostics, for the Department for International Development (DFID) Nepal’s New Economic Reform Program. Currently is advising the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) on the use of complexity models for development assistance.

Dr. Root has lectured extensively and has authored more than 100 publications, including nine books. He latest book Dynamics Among Nations: The Evolution of Legitimacy and Development in Modern States, MIT Press, 2013. He is a frequent contributor to the Wall Street Journal Asia, the International Herald Tribune, the Los Angeles Times, and the Washington Post. His writings have been translated into French, Chinese, Greek, Korean, Japanese, and Vietnamese.

He has been awarded honors for The Key to the East Asian Miracle: Making Shared Growth Credible (with J. Edgardo Campos), which won the 1997 Charles H. Levine Award for Best Book of the Year from the International Political Science Association. The Social Sciences History Association awarded him the 1995 Best Book prize of its Economic History Section for The Fountain of Privilege: Political Foundations of Markets in Old Regime France and England. From the American Historical Association, he received the Chester Higby Prize 1986 for the Best Article among those published for two consecutive years. Dr. Root received his doctorate from the University of Michigan in 1983.

Areas of Research:

  • Collective Action
  • Comparative Politics
  • Complex Systems
  • Democratization
  • East Asia
  • Economic Development
  • Economic Policy
  • Emerging Asia
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Europe
  • Fiscal Policy and Budgeting
  • Foreign Policy
  • Global Development
  • International Development
  • International Economic Policy
  • International Economics
  • International Relations
  • Institutions
  • Political Economy
  • Public Management
  • Risk
  • South Asia
  • U.S. Global Engagement