Contact James For Booking

James Robinson

A nation's prosperity relies on its institutions. The more inclusive, the better.

Noted Economist and Political Scientist, co-author of Why Nations Fail

Contact James For Booking
James Robinson | Noted Economist and Political Scientist, co-author of Why Nations Fail
Lavin Exclusive Speaker

Why do some countries thrive, while others fall into poverty? What does China’s unprecedented growth mean for America’s rank as the world’s largest economy? And how do man-made institutions influence economic success (or lack thereof)? In The New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestseller Why Nations Fail, political scientist James Robinson reveals the political foundations upon which our economic growth lies —and explains why a radically inclusive economic model is beneficial for prosperity and innovation.

James Robinson’s book, Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty is the culmination of 15 years of groundbreaking research. Co-authored with MIT’s Daron Acemoglu, Why Nations Fail explores the gap between rich and poor countries using historical evidence that dates all the way back to the Roman Empire, and criss-crosses the globe from Latin America to the United States. To date, the book has been translated into 32 languages and made both the The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal bestseller lists. Robinson’s previous book, Economic Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy (also co-authored with Acemoglu) is a yet another path-breaking tome that examines why different social groups prefer different political institutions. Commended as “brilliant,” by the Financial Times, Robinson’s Economic Origins offers a different framework for understanding the creation and consolidation of democracy.


Why Nations Fail illuminates the past as it gives us a new way to think about the present. It is that rare book in economics that convinces the reader that the authors want the best for ordinary people.”

— Charles C. Mann, author of 1491 and 1493

Robinson is the Reverend Dr. Richard L. Pearson Professor of Global Conflict Studies at the University of Chicago, as well as the Institute Director of The Pearson Institute for the Study and Resolution of Global Conflicts. He was previously on the faculty at Harvard University, where he was the Wilbur A. Cowett Professor of Government. Robinson also previously served as an advisor to the World Bank’s Report on Governance. He holds a Ph.D from Yale University, an MA from the University of Warwick, and a BSc from the London School of Economics and Political Science.


Speech Topics

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 explains 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, as well as 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.