Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty by Daron AcemogluBrilliant 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.
How Do Populists Win?
Look Inside. Sep 24, Minutes Pre-Order. Sep 24, ISBN Sep 24, Minutes. Robinson argued that countries rise and fall based not on culture, geography, or chance, but on the power of their institutions.
The concept of consensually strong states discussed in our last post suggests one possible answer. Instead, it appears that though the state is often an instrument of repression and extraction in the hands of economic or political elites, there are at times important benefits from state centralization as we have also argued in Why Nations Fail , and the state can even be a useful instrument for the disadvantaged in their struggles against the local elites. We are not aware of any comprehensive approach that models or successfully integrates these different ideas. It is meant to stand apart from strong states that are useful because they can provide socially useful public goods and from weak states cannot or will not provide such public goods. But strong states are also difficult to control for the citizens, so they will often turn their strength against the citizens, for example, expropriating them. The observation this paper makes is that if we were trying to interpret the cross-country variation in the political and economic strength of the state, taxes and spending using such a dichotomy between weak and strong states, much of the OECD and certainly Scandinavia would just appear as massive outliers.
Robinson from the University of Chicago. The book applies insights from institutional economics , development economics and economic history to understand why nations develop differently, with some succeeding in the accumulation of power and prosperity and others failing, via a wide range of historical case studies. The authors also maintain a website with a blog inactive since about the ongoing discussion of the book. In fifteen chapters, Acemoglu and Robinson try to examine which factors are responsible for the political and economical success or failure of states. They argue that the existing explanations about the emergence of prosperity and poverty, e. Acemoglu and Robinson support their thesis by comparing country case studies.
States, Societies, and the Fate of Liberty
"Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity and Poverty" -- Daron Acemoglu
A s the turbulence of global economic crisis starts to recede, the two fundamental features of the world economy in our times re-emerge. One is the gap between rich and poor countries. But the present reality is of astounding difference: the same people can live in abject poverty in one country, yet be prosperous once they move to another. This book takes the graphic example of the twin towns of Nogales, one on the Mexican side of the border, the other on the American side: why does a border make such a difference? Self-evidently, this question matters, because unacceptable global inequality generates other brute facts: the psychologies of guilt and resentment; escalating pressures for migration; and the nightmare choices that face the world when some nations do not merely fall behind, but fall apart.
At first blush, a populist message of "us vs. But under conditions of widespread alienation and distrust, the political gamble of an exclusionary, anti-pluralist message can pay off big. Then something strange happened. In fact, this was not an uncommon occurrence in Northern Italy at the time. As Niccolo Machiavelli explains in The Prince , the people, seeing that they cannot resist the nobility, give their support to one man, in order to be defended by his authority.