Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty

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Crown Publishers, 2012 - Business & Economics - 529 pages
431 Reviews
Brilliant and engagingly written, Why Nations Fail answers the question that has stumped the experts for centuries: Why are some nations rich and others poor, divided by wealth and poverty, health and sickness, food and famine?

Is it culture, the weather, geography? Perhaps ignorance of what the right policies are?

Simply, no. None of these factors is either definitive or destiny. Otherwise, how to explain why Botswana has become one of the fastest growing countries in the world, while other African nations, such as Zimbabwe, the Congo, and Sierra Leone, are mired in poverty and violence?

Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson conclusively show that it is man-made political and economic institutions that underlie economic success (or lack of it). Korea, to take just one of their fascinating examples, is a remarkably homogeneous nation, yet the people of North Korea are among the poorest on earth while their brothers and sisters in South Korea are among the richest. The south forged a society that created incentives, rewarded innovation, and allowed everyone to participate in economic opportunities. The economic success thus spurred was sustained because the government became accountable and responsive to citizens and the great mass of people. Sadly, the people of the north have endured decades of famine, political repression, and very different economic institutions—with no end in sight. The differences between the Koreas is due to the politics that created these completely different institutional trajectories.

Based on fifteen years of original research Acemoglu and Robinson marshall extraordinary historical evidence from the Roman Empire, the Mayan city-states, medieval Venice, the Soviet Union, Latin America, England, Europe, the United States, and Africa to build a new theory of political economy with great relevance for the big questions of today, including:

   - China has built an authoritarian growth machine. Will it continue to grow at such high speed and overwhelm the West?
   - Are America’s best days behind it? Are we moving from a virtuous circle in which efforts by elites to aggrandize power are resisted to a vicious one that enriches and empowers a small minority?
   - What is the most effective way to help move billions of people from the rut of poverty to prosperity? More
philanthropy from the wealthy nations of the West? Or learning the hard-won lessons of Acemoglu and Robinson’s breakthrough ideas on the interplay between inclusive political and economic institutions?

Why Nations Fail will change the way you look at—and understand—the world.
  

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A fantastic overview of an important topic. - Goodreads
Rudimentary and lacking insight. - Goodreads
A good intro to development. - Goodreads
Good idea but less than stellar readability. - Goodreads
The story telling is also great. - Goodreads
A good read though, with a very cogent premise. - Goodreads

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - nosajeel - LibraryThing

A monumental economic history that touches on everything from the transformation from neolithic times, the divergence of world economies in the last five centuries, and the recent economic history. At ... Read full review

Review: Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty

User Review  - Dmitry - Goodreads

The basic premise of this book is simple bordering on trivial. The economies of human societies come in two varieties: the inclusive ones (where a substantial fraction of the population takes active ... Read full review

Contents

L
7
2
45
3
70
4
96
GROWTH UNDER EXTRACTIVE INSTITUTIONS
124
6
152
7
182
8
213
9
245
II
302
13
368
14
404
15
418
UNDERSTANDING PROSPERITY AND POVERTY
428
Acxuowuzncmswrs
463
Copyright

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About the author (2012)

DARON ACEMOGLU is the Killian Professor of Economics at MIT. In 2005 he received the John Bates Clark Medal awarded to economists under forty judged to have made the most significant contribution to economic thought and knowledge.


JAMES A. ROBINSON, a political scientist and an economist, is the David Florence Professor of Government at Harvard University. A world-renowned expert on Latin America and Africa, he has worked in Botswana, Mauritius, Sierra Leone, and South Africa.

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