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.
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Why Nations Fall is briljant en boeiend geschreven en beantwoordt de vraag die experts al eeuwen bezighoudt: waarom zijn sommige landen rijk en anderen arm, gescheiden door rijkdom en armoede, gezondheid en ziekte, voedsel en hongersnood?
Is het cultuur, het weer, geografie? Misschien onwetendheid van wat het juiste beleid is?
Nou, nee. Geen van deze factoren is definitief of noodzakelijk. Hoe kun je anders verklaren dat Botswana één van de snelst groeiende economieën ter wereld is, terwijl andere Afrikaanse landen, zoals Zimbabwe, Congo en Sierra Leone, enorme armoede en onrust kennen?
Daron Acemoglu en James Robinson tonen doorslaggevend aan dat het de kunstmatige politieke en economische organisaties zijn die ten grondslag liggen aan economisch succes (of een gebrek daaraan). Om één van hun fascinerende voorbeelden te noemen: Korea is een opvallend homogeen land, maar de bewoners van Noord-Korea vormen één van de armste volken in de wereld terwijl hun familie in Zuid-Korea één van de rijkste is. Het zuiden heeft een samenleving gecreëerd met stimulansen, beloningen voor innovatie, en die iedereen toestaat deel te nemen aan economische kansen. Het economische succes dat daaruit voortkwam werd onderhouden door een overheid die aansprakelijk en ontvankelijk was voor haar bevolking. Jammer genoeg hebben de mensen uit het noorden decennialang hongersnood, politieke onderdrukking en totaal andere economische instanties moeten verduren - en het einde is nog niet in zicht. Het verschil tussen de Korea’s is het resultaat van de politiek die tot deze totaal verschillende paden heeft geleid.
Acemoglu en Robinson, ondersteund door vijftien jaar aan origineel onderzoek, rangeren buitengewoon historisch bewijs uit de tijd van de Romeinen, de stadstaten van de Maya’s, middeleeuws Venetië, de Sovjet-Unie, Latijns-Amerika, Engeland, Europa, de VS, en Afrika om een nieuwe theorie voor te stellen van politieke economie met een grote relevantie voor de belangrijkste vragen van tegenwoordig, waaronder:
- China heeft een autoritaire groeimachine ontwikkeld: zal die groei doorgaan met deze snelheid en het Westen uiteindelijk overnemen?
- Zijn de hoogtijdagen van Amerika voorbij? Bewegen we weg van een deugdzame cirkel waar de pogingen van de elite om meer macht te krijgen worden weerstaan, naar een systeem dat een kleine minderheid verrijkt en macht geeft?
- Wat is de meest effectieve manier om miljoenen mensen uit de armoede te helpen? Meer filantropie van de rijke landen in het Westen? Of de harde lessen leren van Acemoglu en Robinson over de wisselwerking tussen inclusieve politieke en economische organisaties?
Why Nations Fail verandert de manier waarop je de wereld ziet en begrijpt.
A must-read. Acemoglu and Robinson are intellectual heavyweights of the first rank * Guardian * An important book * New York Times * An intellectually rich book that develops an important thesis with verve * FT * It's a great read. Like me, you may succumb to reading it in one go, and then you may come back to it again and again. -- Jared Diamond, Pulitzer-prize-winning author A must-read. Acemoglu and Robinson are intellectual heavyweights of the first rank ... they have done you the courtesy of writing a book that while at the intellectual cutting edge is not just readable but engrossing ... erudite and fascinating. -- Paul Collier * Observer * For those who think that a nation's economic fate is determined by geography or culture, Daron Acemoglu and Jim Robinson have bad news. It's man-made institutions, not the lay of the land or the faith of our forefathers, that determine whether a country is rich or poor. Synthesizing brilliantly the work of theorists from Adam Smith to Douglass North with more recent empirical research by economic historians, Acemoglu and Robinson have produced a compelling and highly readable book. And their conclusion is a cheering one: the authoritarian extractive institutions like the one's that drive growth in China today are bound to run out of steam. Without the inclusive institutions that first evolved in the West, sustainable growth is impossible, because only a truly free society can foster genuine innovation and the creative destruction that is its corollary. * Niall Ferguson, author of 'The Ascent of Money' * This fascinating and readable book centers on the complex joint evolution of political and economic institutions, in good directions and bad. It strikes a delicate balance between the logic of political and economic behavior and the shifts in direction created by contingent historical events, large and small at 'critical junctures'. Acemoglu and Robinson provide an enormous range of historical examples to show how such shifts can tilt toward favorable institutions, progressive innovation and economic success or toward repressive institutions and eventual decay or stagnation. Somehow they can generate both excitement and reflection. -- Robert Solow, Nobel Laureate in Economics It's the politics, stupid! That is Acemoglu and Robinson's simple yet compelling explanation for why so many countries fail to develop. From the absolutism of the Stuarts to the antebellum South, from Sierra Leone to Colombia, this magisterial work shows how powerful elites rig the rules to benefit themselves at the expense of the many. Charting a careful course between the pessimists and optimists, the authors demonstrate history and geography need not be destiny. But they also document how sensible economic ideas and policies often achieve little in the absence of fundamental political change. * Dani Rodrik, Kennedy School of Government, Harvard Universitry * Two of the world's best and most erudite economists turn to the hardest issue of all: why are some nations poor and others rich? Written with a deep knowledge of economics and political history, this is perhaps the most powerful statement made to date that 'institutions matter.' A provocative, instructive, yet thoroughly enthralling book. -- Joel Mokyr, Robert H. Strotz Professor of Arts and Sciences and Professor of Economics and History, Northwestern University Imagine sitting around a table listening to Jared Diamond, Joseph Schumpeter, and James Madison reflect on over two thousand years of political and economic history. Imagine that they weave their ideas into a coherent theoretical framework based on limiting extraction, promoting creative destruction, and creating strong political institutions that share power and you begin to see the contribution of this brilliant and engagingly written book. -- Scott E. Page, University of Michigan and Santa Fre Institute In this stunningly wide ranging book Acemoglu and Robinson ask a simple but vital question, why do some nations become rich and others remain poor? Their answer is also simple -- because some polities develop more inclusive political institutions. What is remarkable about the book is the crispness and clarity of the writing, the elegance of the argument, and the remarkable richness of historical detail. This book is a must read at a moment where governments right across the western world must come up with the political will to deal with a debt crisis of unusual proportions. -- Steve Pincus, Bradford Durfee Professor of History and International and Area Studies, Yale University Acemoglu and Robinson -- two of the world's leading experts on development -- explain why it is not geography, disease, or culture which explains why some nations are rich and some poor, but rather a matter of institutions and politics. This highly accessible book provides welcome insight to specialists and general readers alike. -- Francis Fukuyama Some time ago a little known Scottish philosopher wrote a book on what makes nations succeed and what makes them fail. The Wealth of Nations is still being read today. With the same perspicacity and with the same broad historical perspective, Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson have re-tackled this same question for our own times. Two centuries from now our great-great-...-great grandchildren will be, similarly, reading Why Nations Fail. -- George Akerlof, Nobel Laureate in Economics, 2001 Acemoglu and Robinson have made an important contribution to the debate as to why similar-looking nations differ so greatly in their economic and political development. Through a broad multiplicity of historical examples, they show how institutional developments, sometimes based on very accidental circumstances, have had enormous consequences. The openness of a society, its willingness to permit creative destruction, and the rule of appear to be decisive for economic development. -- Kenneth J. Arrow This not only a fascinating and interesting book: it is a really important one. The highly original research that Professors Acemoglu and Robinson have done, and continue to do, on how economic forces, politics and policy choices evolve together and constrain each other, and how institutions affect that evolution, is essential to understanding the successes and failures of societies and nations. And here, in this book, these insights come in a highly accessible, indeed riveting form. Those who pick this book up and start reading will have trouble putting it down. * Michael Spence * Why Nations Fail is a truly awesome book. Acemoglu and Robinson tackle one of the most important problems in the social sciences -- a question that has bedeviled leading thinkers for centuries -- and offer an answer that is brilliant in its simplicity and power. A wonderfully readable mix of history, political science, and economics, this book will change the way we think about economic development. Why Nations Fail is a must read book. * Steven Levitt, author of Freakonomics * Why Nations Fail is so good in so many ways that I despair of listing them all. It is an excellent book and should be purchased forthwith, so to encourage the authors to keep working. -- Charles C. Mann, author of 1491 and 1493 In this delightfully readable romp through 400 years of history, two of the giants of contemporary social science bring us an inspiring and important message: it is freedom that makes the world rich. Let tyrants everywhere tremble! -- Ian Morris, Stanford University, author of Why the West Rules - For Now The authors convincingly show that countries escape poverty only when they have appropriate economic institutions, especially private property and competition. More originally, they argue countries are more likely to develop the right institiutions when they have an open pluralistic political system with competition for political office, a widespread electorate, and openness to new politcial leaders. This intimate connection between political and economic institutions is the heart of their major contribution, and has resulted in a study of great vitality on one of the crucial questions in economics and political economy. -- Gary S. Becker, Nobel laureate in economics, 1992 This important and insightful book, packed with historical examples, makes the case that inclusive political institiutions in support of inclusive economic institutions iskey to sustained prosperity. The book reviews how some good regimes got launched and then had a virtuous spiral, while bad regimes remain in a vicious spiral. This is important analysis not to be missed. -- Peter Diamond, Nobel laureate in economics, 2010 A brilliant and uplifting book -- yet also a deeply disturbing wake-up call. Acemoglu and Robinson lay out a convincing theory of almost everything to do with economic development. Countries rise when they put in place the right pro-growth political institutions and they fail-often spectacularly-when those instituitons ossify or fail to adapt. Powerful people always and everywhere seek to grab complete control over government, undermining broader social progress for their own greed. Keep those people in check with effective democracy or watch your nation fail. -- Simon Johnson, co-author of 13 Bankers and professor at MIT Sloan a fascinating bit of scholarship that is laden with lots of interesting historical detail * Sunday Business Post * A must-read that makes sense of recent upheavals * Money Week * An intellectually rich book that develops an important thesis with verve. It should be widely read. -- Martin Wolf * FT * A vital work for these times -- William Easterly * Wall Street Journal *