Daron Acemoglu

Why do some nations succeed and others fail? Look to geography.

Author of Why Nations Fail. One of the 20 Most Cited Economists in the World

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Daron Acemoglu | Author of Why Nations Fail. One of the 20 Most Cited Economists in the World
Lavin Exclusive Speaker

One of Foreign Policy’s 100 Global Thinkers, Daron Acemoglu makes tremendous strides in answering the big question that has obsessed us for centuries: Why are some nations rich, while others are poor? In the bestseller Why Nations Fail, he argues that economic prosperity is based on strong institutions rather than on geography. If we know what makes for great societies, we can move assuredly toward building them. 

A professor of Applied Economics at M.I.T., Daron Acemoglu is among the 20 most cited economists in the world. A 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.


“A wonderfully readable mix of history, political science, and economics, this book will change the way we think about economic development.”

— Steven Levitt, author of Freakonomics

Born in Turkey and educated in England, Acemoglu has written for mainstream magazines such as Esquire and co-edits academic publications, such as The Journal of Economic Growth. Acemoglu’s expertise stretches across the full spectrum of macroeconomics, with a focus on the role of institutions in economic development: how will institutions react to the demographic shifts to the 21st century? How will the rise of new superpowers change the global economy?   



“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.”

Union Investment

Speech Topics

The New Robotic Economy Skills and Employment in the New World of Work

Robots are now everywhere. And while previous waves of technology destroyed livelihoods, they also created new jobs in the process. But that’s not the case today. According to Daron Acemoglu’s original research, evidence shows that robots are reducing wages and displacing workers without ushering in new employments. So—does this spell the end of work for most Americans?
In a keynote addressing robotics, AI, and the future of work, leading labor economics researcher Daron Acemoglu argues that we have mounted an inadequate response to this new technological tsunami. To turn robots into a tide that lifts all boats, we need to create a new economy, based on more flexible skills and new organizations. This requires a total overhaul of our educational system, workplace relations, and fiscal system. We are at a critical juncture, Acemoglu states:  inaction will not only deepen the plight of millions, but will increasingly undermine the foundations of our democracy and sow further discord. The right response, on the other hand, will create shared prosperity and a new world of work.

U.S. Economy
The Challenge of U.S. Democracy Creating a New Economic Compact for Greater Prosperity

Democracy in the U.S. stands at a crossroads, argues Daron Acemoglu—and it’s due to three massive trends. First, globalization and new technology have increased productivity and profits, but reduced wages and employment for middle-class Americans. Second, the financial crisis and its aftermath revealed the fragility of U.S. growth (and the cozy link between Washington and Wall St.) while destroying trust in our institutions. And third, politics is ever more polarizing, eroding the very norms that made our democracy function for the last century. So how can we rebuild—and rebound? In this timely keynote, Acemoglu warns that we have crucial choice: we can either buckle in the face of our critical challenges, or we can return from the precipice by creating a new economic compact. By strengthening U.S. civil society, the media, and citizen activism, he argues, we can foster greater shared prosperity and rebuild the foundations of our democratic tradition from the ground up.

Global Economy
Why Nations Fail The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty

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.