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

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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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About the author

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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Additional Information

Publisher
Currency
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Published on
Mar 20, 2012
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Pages
544
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ISBN
9780307719232
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Language
English
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Genres
Business & Economics / Economic History
Business & Economics / International / General
Political Science / Public Policy / Economic Policy
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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Introduction to Modern Economic Growth is a groundbreaking text from one of today's leading economists. Daron Acemoglu gives graduate students not only the tools to analyze growth and related macroeconomic problems, but also the broad perspective needed to apply those tools to the big-picture questions of growth and divergence. And he introduces the economic and mathematical foundations of modern growth theory and macroeconomics in a rigorous but easy to follow manner.

After covering the necessary background on dynamic general equilibrium and dynamic optimization, the book presents the basic workhorse models of growth and takes students to the frontier areas of growth theory, including models of human capital, endogenous technological change, technology transfer, international trade, economic development, and political economy. The book integrates these theories with data and shows how theoretical approaches can lead to better perspectives on the fundamental causes of economic growth and the wealth of nations.


Innovative and authoritative, this book is likely to shape how economic growth is taught and learned for years to come.


Introduces all the foundations for understanding economic growth and dynamic macroeconomic analysis
Focuses on the big-picture questions of economic growth
Provides mathematical foundations
Presents dynamic general equilibrium
Covers models such as basic Solow, neoclassical growth, and overlapping generations, as well as models of endogenous technology and international linkages
Addresses frontier research areas such as international linkages, international trade, political economy, and economic development and structural change
An accompanying Student Solutions Manual containing the answers to selected exercises is available (978-0-691-14163-3/$24.95). See: http://press.princeton.edu/titles/8970.html.
For Professors only: To access a complete solutions manual online, email us at: acemoglusolutions@press.princeton.edu

Life is getting better—and at an accelerating rate. Food availability, income, and life span are up; disease, child mortality, and violence are down — all across the globe. Though the world is far from perfect, necessities and luxuries alike are getting cheaper; population growth is slowing; Africa is following Asia out of poverty; the Internet, the mobile phone, and container shipping are enriching people’s lives as never before. The pessimists who dominate public discourse insist that we will soon reach a turning point and things will start to get worse. But they have been saying this for two hundred years.

Yet Matt Ridley does more than describe how things are getting better. He explains why. Prosperity comes from everybody working for everybody else. The habit of exchange and specialization—which started more than 100,000 years ago—has created a collective brain that sets human living standards on a rising trend. The mutual dependence, trust, and sharing that result are causes for hope, not despair.

This bold book covers the entire sweep of human history, from the Stone Age to the Internet, from the stagnation of the Ming empire to the invention of the steam engine, from the population explosion to the likely consequences of climate change. It ends with a confident assertion that thanks to the ceaseless capacity of the human race for innovative change, and despite inevitable disasters along the way, the twenty-first century will see both human prosperity and natural biodiversity enhanced. Acute, refreshing, and revelatory, The Rational Optimist will change your way of thinking about the world for the better.

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