Author of Why Nations Fail. One of the 20 Most Cited Economists in the World
-Steven Levitt (Freakonomics)
A professor of Applied Economics at M.I.T., Daron Acemoglu is among the 20 most cited economists in the world. A 2012 New York Times Magazine feature said he is "as hot as economists get." In 2005, he received the prestigious John Bates Clark Medal, for being a top economist under 40. Acemoglu is the co-author, with Harvard's James Robinson, of the New York Times bestseller Why Nations Fail, which, like Jared Diamond's Guns, Germs, and Steel, is a major work of historical, political and cultural heft that comes along once every few years.
Why Nations Fail
Why are some nations extremely rich while others remain cripplingly poor? And why is the gap between the two widening? If we know why nations are poor, we can help them. And if we know what propels great societies into the future, we can move towards that future today. What separates the haves from the have-nots, Daron Acemoglu argues in this wildly original keynote, has nothing to do with geography or natural resources, as is commonly believed. Instead, nations live or die on the soundness of their institutions, the fairness of their laws, and the transparency of their governments. Drawing on powerful examples from America to Mexico to Sierra Leone to Singapore, Acemoglu shows us that, with strong institutions in place, individuals (and nations) are given the incentive and the opportunities to achieve and innovate.
Daron did a very stimulating presentation. He contributed greatly to the success of the conference and it was a real pleasure and honor to work with him. Thank you for the great support of Lavin. It was a pleasure to work with you.
Why Nations Fail
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.
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