William Keech is Research Professor of Political Economy in the Department of Political Science at Duke University. He is professor emeritus of political economy at Carnegie Mellon University. From 1965 through 1996 he was on the political science faculty at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

His scholarship revolves around studies of democratic political institutions and practices. This was reflected in his first book, The Impact of Negro Voting: The Role of the Vote in the Quest for Equality (1968, 1981) and in his most recent book, Economic Politics in the United States: The Costs and Risks of Democracy (2013).

Since the late 1970s he has been working at the intersection of political science and economics. The original edition of Economic Politics (1995) argued that opportunistic incentives of democratic politics are not systematically at odds with good economic performance in the United States.

We have learned more about how and why democracy can work well or badly in the years since the first edition. It was not previously apparent how much the good performance of democracy in the United States was contingent on informal rules and institutions of restraint that are not part of the definition of democracy.

Since that first edition, the United States has experienced soaring indebtedness, unintended adverse consequences of housing policy, and massive problems in the financial system. Each of these was permitted or encouraged by the incentives of electoral politics and by limitations on government, the two essential features of democratic institutions.

Keech teaches “The Political Economy of Growth, Stabilization and Distribution,” which is cross listed in political science and economics.

Duke University Department of Political Science