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

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.

Title:Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty
Edition Language:English
ISBN:9780307719218
Format Type:

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

  • Randal Samstag

    The book Why Nations Fail by Daron Acemoglu and James A. Robinson comes with book-jacket praise from the usual suspects: Steven Levitt of Freakonomics fame, Jared Diamond of Collapse fame, Nobel Prize...

  • Yalman Onaran

    This could be written in one chapter or a long magazine piece. Has an interesting theory, but it just goes on for too long and not worth spending the time....

  • William2

    This economic history is, as far as it goes, excellent. The main thesis is ultra simple: nations must develop inclusive economic and political institutions if they are to achieve prosperity. Such poli...

  • Heidi

    The central idea of the book is that states fail because of their political institutions, namely because of their extractive nature. This thesis is, in my opinion, extremely simplistic.Economic proces...

  • Siew

    Such an insightful and shocking book! The examples are very well-explained, and I truly enjoyed thinking and discussing the points raised in this book. Only if more people would read this book and und...

  • David

    This is an excellent book about the reasons why some nations are prosperous, while others are steeped in poverty. The authors contend that some nations have "inclusive" economic and political policies...

  • Keith Swenson

    Overall: very very interesting and very important topic. I would give it 5 stars except it is very long, detailed, and not an easy read. However well worth it.Thesis in brief: some countries are prope...

  • billyskye

    I worked for an international affairs journal when this book was first released. I remember the considerable energy the authors seemed to be putting into its marketing – the articles, the interview...

  • Max

    I think the premise of this book is fantastic, and the first 50 pages were terrific. Beyond that, I was pretty disappointed by the execution. The book is built upon the theory that it is not economic ...

  • Marija

    The lack of arguments and statements like: "Unlike in Mexico, in the United States the citizens could keep politicians in check and get rid of ones who would use their offices to enrich themselves or ...