Noted Economist and Political Scientist, co-author of Why Nations Fail
James Robinson's book, Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty, co-authored with MIT's Daron Acemoglu, is a practical and momentous work—the culmination of 15 years of groundbreaking research. Why Nations Fail opens a new path of exploration into examining—and then closing—the gap between rich and poor countries. It upends conventional thinking to show us that, despite what some historians claim, good climate and technology are not the main factors determining a country's success.
Lessons of Why Nations Fail
With Egypt and Pakistan roiling the headlines and the extent of inequality among nations at an unprecedented level, Why Nations Fail answers the question that has stumped people for centuries: why are some nations rich and others poor? Why is the world divided by wealth and poverty, health and sickness, food and famine? In this riveting talk, James Robinson reveals the factors that make the city of Nogales, a place half in Arizona and half in Mexico, outperform its southern neighbor. He explains why Botswana succeeds while neighboring Congo does not, and, among other striking stories, he shows why North Korea fails where South Korea thrives. In speaking on why the average person in the U.S. is ten times as prosperous as the average Guatemalan, 20 times as prosperous as the average North Korean, and 40 times as prosperous as those living in the Congo, Robinson presents new insights on the crucial role of incentives and institutions and the absolutely essential role of strong governments. This sweeping, detailed, and highly optimistic talk refutes much of what we know about why some countries are mired in poverty while others are perpetually successful-- and it lays out a roadmap for real change.
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, 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.
Economic Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy
What forces lead to democracy's creation? Why does it sometimes consolidate only to collapse at other times? Written by two of the foremost authorities on this subject in the world, this volume develops a framework for analyzing the creation and consolidation of democracy. It revolutionizes scholarship on the factors underlying government and popular movements toward democracy or dictatorship. Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson argue that different social groups prefer different political institutions because of the way they allocate political power and resources. Their book, the subject of a four-day seminar at Harvard's Center for Basic Research in the Social Sciences, was also the basis for the Walras-Bowley lecture at the joint meetings of the European Economic Association and Econometric Society in 2003 and is the winner of the John Bates Clark Medal.
Daron Acemoglu is Charles P. Kindleberger Professor of Applied Economics at The Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He received the 2005 John Bates Clark Medal awarded by the American Economic Association as the best economist working in the United States under age 40. He is the author of the forthcoming text Introduction to Modern Economic Growth. James A. Robinson is Professor of Government at Harvard University. He is a Harvard Faculty Associate at the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs and a member of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research's Program on Institutions, Organizations, and Growth. He is coeditor with Jared Diamond of the forthcoming book Natural Experiments in History.