Great Escape - Health, Wealth and Happiness in an Unequal World
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Great Escape - Health, Wealth and Happiness in an Unequal World

3.75 of 5 stars 3.75  ·  rating details  ·  64 ratings  ·  15 reviews
The world is a better place than it used to be. People are wealthier and healthier, and live longer lives. Yet the escapes from destitution by so many have left gaping inequalities between people and between nations. In "The Great Escape," Angus Deaton--one of the foremost experts on economic development and on poverty--tells the remarkable story of how, starting 250 years...more
Published February 1st 2013 by Not Avail (first published January 1st 2013)
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Peter Mcloughlin
The main idea of this book is captured in the title. For most of human existence most of the world's population lived short unhealthy lifespans in grinding poverty. The story of the past 300 years especially since 1945 is the escape of a large part of the world's population (but by no means all) from poverty disease and an early grave. The book traces how these things first came to happen in Western Europe and U.S. first and began to spread to east Asia and other poor countries. A key factor to...more
By Edward Hadas

It is easy to tell grim stories about the world economy. A billion people still live in desperate poverty. The world’s rich are pulling further away from the poor. Many developed economies are still in a rut, five years after a financial crisis. In “The Great Escape”, Angus Deaton provides a more optimistic, and much more accurate, narrative.

The Princeton economics professor offers a helpful mix of statistics, explanation, analysis and anecdote. He starts with the tale of his own...more
Mal Warwick
Has the human race made progress since the days when all our lives were nasty, brutish, and short?

Some might think this question patently silly, since it would appear to answer itself. But Angus Deaton finds in it a point of entry into his inquiry on “health, wealth, and the origins of inequality,” the subtitle of his ambitious new book. He is in no doubt that humanity has progressed, not steadily but by fits and starts — and continues to do so to this day. “Today,” he writes, “children in sub-S...more
Gene Bujalski
Deaton's book is a useful introduction to the general topic of inequality, considered both historically and internationally, with special emphasis on the United States. He cites numerous historical examples to show how inequality comes about, and, interestingly, offers an interpretation of how innovation can contribute to it (early adopters whose skill sets and motivation better equip them to seize emerging opportunities leave behind others who are not as well prepared or disposed, thereby reapi...more
This wonderful book is by a senior professor of economics at Princeton that links his interests in health economics, developmental studies, development economics, income inequality, and human development. The premise of the book is an old movie about a WWII prison camp escape. The point is to focus on the "great escape" of some societies and groups from the perpetual situation of limited or no economic growth, low life expectancy, and poor health status that had plagued mankind for thousands of...more
Bo White
the discussions on well being are the highlight and something that often gets missed in our pundit age of digital information.
A generally balanced, thorough, and readable survey of the literature on global development, poverty, inequality and health. It charts "The Great Escape" as country's go into self-sustaining growth, mortality greatly improves, and living standards rise. But it also discusses the many way those links can get broken, how income does not always translate into health and how inequality can break some of the link between growth and the typical family. The book is largely data based and contains thoug...more
The Great Escape is a mix of brilliant insights and bizarre nonsense. Deaton admits that it is wrong for millions of children to die of easily preventable diseases, but if you ask what to do to help them, he answers that they do not need help. He takes his arguments to absurd extremes, actually making the case that the historical peak of mortality during the Industrial Revolution was good because that is what forced Science to come up with solutions to help us live longer. Is this satire? These...more
This book provides an interesting history of man’s scape from poverty. The history is basic and familiar to most I think (and hope). It likely would have made a better long-form magazine piece than a book. The author takes pages to explain points better served by a paragraph. Some of his pronouncements seem counterintuitive but I like his focus on the danger of those that successfully climb the ladder of success only to pull it up behind them.

There’s a danger of reading short news articles, or w...more
Tara Brabazon
The first comment to make about this fine book is that it is beautifully written. The tone and texture of the prose renders it not only open to the diverse disciplinary backgrounds of readers, but also evocative and engaging.

Deaton's great work is the alignment of often disparate topics: economic 'progress,' health, wellbeing and inequality. There is an evenness of argument that is incredibly welcome after the ideologues - particularly in the United States - have offered a critique of any scheme...more
First 3/4 of book is an explanation and history of inequality in the world, both between countries and within countries. Well done, but a little too full of facts and figures and charts for my preference. But I really liked the last part of the book, which was a damning critique on foreign aid.
Pretty good. This definitely has an academic / survey course "feel" to it, which can make the reading ever so slightly a slog at times, but in general it is a clear, concise, and informative macro-level look at trends in global growth and inequality, which makes the persuasive case that many of us are really lucky to be living now, and not at any other point in the last few thousand years.

For those who still aren't lucky to be living now, i.e. the very poor in Africa and parts of Asia, this book...more
"A history of how western countries escaped poverty and how other countries might too." - David A. Weisbach
Stig Aune
Good and relevant. Slightly too much repetition. Very good finishing chapter
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