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Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty
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Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty

really liked it 4.0  ·  Rating details ·  15,352 Ratings  ·  1,523 Reviews
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
Hardcover, 544 pages
Published March 20th 2012 by Crown Business (first published 2012)
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Ahmad Mud A small bit at the end but not much.
Jorge It depends, there are middle income economies like Chile or Brazil that have inclusive institutions, maybe you can call them "in transition". But you…moreIt depends, there are middle income economies like Chile or Brazil that have inclusive institutions, maybe you can call them "in transition". But you also have middle income economies like Colombia, that lacks this kind of institutions, so it depends in each case.(less)

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Randal Samstag
Jul 06, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: economics
The book Why Nations Fail by Daron Acemoglu and James A. Robinson comes with book-jacket praise from the usual suspects: Steven Levitt of Freakonomics fame, Jared Diamond of Collapse fame, Nobel Prize “laureate” George Akerlof, and Niall Ferguson, champion of imperialism. Thomas Freidman dashed off a quick review in his New York Times column for April 1, 2012. Freidman, the giddy fan of globalization, was ecstatic, although he admitted that he was “reading” the book, but not that he had “read” i ...more
This economic history is, as far as it goes, excellent. The main thesis is ultra simple: nations must develop inclusive economic and political institutions if they are to achieve prosperity. Such political institutions include fair and free elections, an independent judiciary, uncorrupt legislative and executive branches etc etc. Inclusive economic institutions include financial controls such as (in the U.S.) the Fed, the SEC, trust breaking litigation, and so forth. The authors say all of these ...more
Yalman Onaran
Apr 08, 2012 rated it it was ok
This could be written in one chapter or a long magazine piece. Has an interesting theory, but it just goes on for too long and not worth spending the time.
Their main thesis is very interesting - that there is a strong link between political/social institutions and the economic success or failure of a nation.

Compare Botswana, which has achieved remarkable growth despite the AIDS epidemic, and Zimbabwe. Compare South Korea, which was poor, and is now a regional power, to North Korea, where the huddled skeletal masses pluck corn kernels from feces to survive while the Kim clan gorged on cognac.

The main reason states are successful, say Acemoglu and R
May 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
Such an insightful and shocking book! The examples are very well-explained, and I truly enjoyed thinking and discussing the points raised in this book. Only if more people would read this book and understand that it is not for the lack of aid to poor countries, but the very political and economical structure of the country that makes it poor.

The whole inclusive and extractive political-economical standpoint is very interesting.

The only nitpick I would comment on: the book suffers from excessiv
Mar 31, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: politics, economics
This is an excellent book about the reasons why some nations are prosperous, while others are steeped in poverty. The authors contend that some nations have "inclusive" economic and political policies. These policies give a political voice to a large segment of the population, rather than only to a small elite. As a result, a set of checks and balances tends toward a positive feedback, sometimes called a "virtuous cycle". This virtuous cycle helps to accelerate the tendencies toward inclusivenes ...more
Keith Swenson
Oct 30, 2013 rated it really liked it
Overall: very very interesting and very important topic. I would give it 5 stars except it is very long, detailed, and not an easy read. However well worth it.

Thesis in brief: some countries are properous, and others are not. What causes the difference? Some are right next to each other and the difference in prosperity can not be explained by geography, climate, or even culture. Instead it is the system, and what is it about the system that explains the difference. They elaborate a theory that t
Feb 08, 2014 rated it it was ok
The central idea of the book is that states fail because of their political institutions, namely because of their extractive nature. This thesis is extremely simplistic.
Economic processes are never this one-dimensional. The authors argue that the three theories of poverty (nations are poor because of their unfortunate geographic location, their culture does not facilitate growth and the West simply does not know how to transform poor countries into rich ones) are completely irrelevant which I di
Jun 23, 2012 rated it liked it
I think the premise of this book is fantastic, and the first 50 pages were terrific. Beyond that, I was pretty disappointed by the execution.

The book is built upon the theory that it is not economic policies, but rather "institutions" (such as good governance, social norms and a strong legal system) that play the fundamental role in economic growth and development. I find this to be a compelling theory and I think it is an extremely useful framework from which to view economic and political dev
Sep 05, 2012 rated it liked it
The hypothesis is clear very early on; what follows is an evidence-loaded journey that keeps hammering the intriguing and simple message home: that extractive, exclusive institutions wreck a country while profiting the elite who holds the power to change the institutions ; and inclusive institutions provide a country with economical growth, while on the long run providing mechanisms through which inclusive institutions are kept.

As many other reviewers have noted, they are however simplistic in p
Jeff Kelleher
Jan 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing
A ragged and somewhat bloated masterpiece.

The core theme here is not new: sustained prosperity arises where there is pluralistic government under the rule of law. To the extent a society approaches this structure, which the authors call "inclusive," it develops inclusive--ie, open-- economic institutions, where no elite can obstruct progress. This is contrasted with "extractive" economies, stultified by political elites who repress the "creative destruction" that drives growth but threatens thei
Jan 02, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
A fascinating study as to why some countries are rich and others are poor. It makes a compelling argument that differences in wealth can be explained by the quality of institutions in a country, with successful countries having inclusive pluralistic institutions and poor countries featuring oligopolistic elites and extractive institutions.

Some wonderful case studies across a wide historical spectrum. Spoiled somewhat for me by repetitive style and some bloody awful maps.

Nov 27, 2012 rated it liked it
By Pierre Briançon

The book begins in Nogales, a city divided by a fence along the border of Arizona and Mexico, and ends 450 pages later in China, with the story of a young entrepreneur arrested in 2004 for having started a large steel plant competing with the state-owned companies. In between “Why Nations Fail” is a highly readable narrative of a breathtaking trip: from the Neolithic Revolution to 16th century England, from Spain’s Philip II to Stalin, from the Mayan city-states to the Portugue
Đông Huynh
Feb 24, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
- Vài ghi chú nhỏ:

Tư tưởng chủ đạo của tác giả đã quá rõ ràng, ngay từ đầu và xuyên suốt các chương sách: Các quốc gia có nền chính trị đa nguyên và thể chế dung hợp sẽ thịnh vượng, giàu có và phát triển hơn những quốc gia nó nền chính trị chuyên chế, hoặc nền chính trị phi tập trung hóa quyền lực (như một số quốc gia ở Châu Phi), vì nó tạo điều kiện cho kinh tế thương mại phát triển, và cơ hội trở nên giàu có cho các cá nhân, thay vì cướp đoạt tài sản và sự thịnh vượng vào tay những nhóm lợi íc
Atila Iamarino
Oct 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: economia
Bom, um tanto longo demais e um tanto deprimente. Uma análise da situação político/econômica das nações, que defende que o que faz um país próspero é uma economia inclusiva, em contraste com uma economia extrativista. Bom porque achei que o argumento tem um ótimo poder descritivo, mesmo ignorando as condições naturais que o Jared Diamond tanto cita em Guns, Germs, and Steel : The Fates of Human Societies e Colapso. Longo demais porque dão explicações muito detalhadas do que é basicamente uma out ...more
Ana  Vlădescu
A fascinating (albeit difficult to grasp) study on why some nations succeed whilst others fail. The amount of information in this book is astounding, seeing as it is the result of 15 years of research on the topic. This is definitely a book I will re-read, because with a first read you just get the basic argument, but with the second one you get all the subtleties.

I recommend this to anyone with an interest in why our world is the way it is.
Leo Walsh
Jul 28, 2014 rated it liked it
Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson's Why Nations Fail examines the impact our human-created institutions have on our economies and creation of a "good life" for the many. They do this with a lot of detail. Many of their observations both apparent and useful. Despite this, the book has a number of flaws that seem, to this reviewer at least, critical.

Let's start with the good: the author's central thesis seems sound. Governments and the institutions they create do matter. For instance, consider
Feb 08, 2013 rated it liked it
I could have given this book 4-stars, but I felt 3 were more appropriate in the end. I really think this book's title is a misnomer: it should be "How Nations Fail." I agree the extractive/inclusive dichotomy of political institutions is a useful and explanatory model of a country's economic success and failure. I think it explains much of how a nation/political organization fails. I also like how they point out that failure can take time, and things may look good for a time before they start go ...more
I found this book very interesting. I found the book very satisfying in ways that "Guns, Germs and Steel" was not; countries are not poor because of initial resource conditions or ignorance on how to become more prosperous. More often, those in power create political and economic structures to secure power while sacrificing the long-term welfare of the rest of the nation, crippling a country's ability to adapt to changing conditions or use labor and resources efficiently. The book stresses the i ...more
Nov 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: economics, politics
Бестселлер "Почему одни страны богатые, а другие бедные. Происхождение власти, процветания и нищеты" очень качественная и невероятно важная книга, которая помогает осознать истоки таких важных вопросов в истории человечества, как, например, почему, какие факторы, какие причины, как объяснить, к какому выводу прийти и в чем же корень таких проблем как бедность множества стран и регионов в нашем современном, казалось бы, мире?...

Авторы не слишком спешили с согласится с другими не менее важными нау
Yavar Moshirfar
Dec 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
دارون عجم اوغلو و رابینسون در این کتاب بر نکته بسیار مهمی تأکید میکنند: ساختارها و نهادهایی که دموکراسی را پدید می آورند. ساختارهایی که قادرند «بدنه» دولت را در عین حفظ «تمرکز قدرت» آن کاهش دهند و نقش نهادهای مردم نهاد و غیردولتی و غیر حکومتی را پررنگ تر کنند.
نمونه های عینی بسیاری از بررسی تأثیر شرایط جغرافیایی (بوتسوانا و زیمبابوه) ، فرهنگ (کره شمالی و جنوبی)، سیستم های حاکم و ... آورده می شود تا نشان داده شود تنها عامل تعیین کننده در «پایداری» و «توسعه پایدار» سیاسی و اجتماعی و فرهنگی، «نهاد»
mohsen pourramezani
نویسندگان کتاب دو اقتصاددان امریکایی (دارون عجماوغلو استاد دانشگاه امآیتی و جیمز رابینسون استاد دانشگاه هاروارد) هستند که با ارائه یک نظریهی اقتصادی-سیاسی و همراه با مثالهای تاریخی فراوان علت پیشرفت و عقب ماندگی کشورها را بیان میکنند. بخشی از نظریهی آنها این است: «هم افزایی شدیدی میان نهادهای اقتصادی و سیاسی وجود دارد. نهادهای سیاسی استثماری قدرت را در دست گروه کوچکی از فرادستان متمرکز میسازند و محدودیتهای اندکی بر این قدرت اعمال میکنند. ساختار نهادهای اقتصادی غالبا توسط این هیئت حاکمه، برای است ...more
Why is it that there are such huge differences is living standards around the world? Why is it, that certain nations have become rich and will become ever more richer, while other countries time and time again, fail to improve their living standards?

In this book, Daron Acemoğlu proposes a refreshingly simple theory that explains the main contours of economic and political development around the world sine the Neolithic Revolution.

The theory discards some existing (and widely accepted) theories
May 01, 2017 rated it it was ok
I worked for an international affairs journal when this book was first released. I remember the considerable energy the authors seemed to be putting into its marketing – the articles, the interviews, the debates, the blog, the proliferation of review copies. It seemed like there was a concerted effort to get Why Nations Fail added to that canon of suspect, generalist readings of geopolitics – your Clash of Civilizations, your Tragedy of Great Power Politics, your End of History and the Last Man ...more
Akshat Upadhyay
Aug 05, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: read-in-2015
Too repetitive, this book though providing a wide array of examples, keeps on harping the same tune over and over again. Yes I get it, inclusive political institutions are better than extractive ones (duh) but there is no need to hammer it for a swathe of almost 500 pages. This idea could have been wrapped up in one or max two chapters. Poor attempt
Darren Hawkins
Jul 15, 2012 rated it really liked it
The book is written for a general audience, and if you're feeling smart and ambitious, it is well worth reading. It aims to be the "Guns, Germs, and Steel" of the social sciences. The thesis in "Guns, Germs, and Steel" is that Geography/Climate is Destiny. Civilization arose and thrived where geography and climate endowed people with the most nutritious and easily cultivatable food. Those locations created dynamic human societies that gave rise to complex socio-political institutions, sophistica ...more
Steven Peterson
Jun 29, 2013 rated it really liked it
This book explores why some nations fail and others do not. The authors lay out their thesis early on (Pages 3-4): "Countries such as Great Britain and the United States became rich because their citizens overthrew the elites who controlled power and created a society where political rights were much more broadly distributed, where the government was accountable and responsive to citizens, and where the great mass of people could take advantage of economic opportunities."

In the process of addres
Syed Ahmad Fathi Syed Mohd Khair
The central thesis of this book is that nation fail economically because of their political institutions. The non-democratic (extractive is used in the book) political institution with power concentrated on one person or group of elite, will produce economic institutions that only beneficial to the ruler on the expense of the public. While the more pluralistic and democratic political model will maneuver the economy to the interest of the public.

This thesis although highly attractive and simple
Sep 15, 2017 rated it did not like it
The lack of arguments and statements like: "Unlike in Mexico, in the United States the citizens could keep politicians in check and get rid of ones who would use their offices to enrich themselves or create monopolies for their cronies." (In 19th century? Really?) or "“Just as the United States in the nineteenth century was more democratic politically than almost any other nation in the world at the time, it was also more democratic than others when it came to innovation.” do not make any sense. ...more
Andrej Karpathy
Sep 16, 2015 rated it really liked it
I read this as part of the Mark Zuckerberg book club :) Why are some nations rich and some poor? Is it geographical? Cultural? This book argues that, to a first order approximation, it is the economic and political institutions that influence this property, based on whether they are inclusive and pluralistic, or extractive, where a small elite rules over the population. The book goes over many examples of countries/regions throughout history, e.g. Maya, Rome, Venice, France/Spain/Britain/New Wor ...more
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Daron Acemoglu is the Elizabeth and James Killian Professor of Economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In 2005 he won the prestigious John Bates Clark medal, awarded to the best economist under 40.
More about Daron Acemoğlu...
“Economic institutions shape economic incentives: the incentives to become educated, to save and invest, to innovate and adopt new technologies, and so on. It is the political process that determines what economic institutions people live under, and it is the political institutions that determine how this process works.” 15 likes
“As we will show, poor countries are poor because those who have power make choices that create poverty.” 13 likes
More quotes…