New book by CIFAR researchers on why nations fail

News Institutions, Organizations & Growth 22.03.2012

A new book, co-authored by two CIFAR Fellows Daron Acemoglu (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) and James A. Robinson (Harvard University) entitled Why Nations Fail: Origins of Power, Poverty and Prosperity, offers a provocative new theory for why there are tremendous differences in prosperity, health, and other social outcomes around the world.

Drawing on fifteen years of original research, Drs. Acemoglu and Robinson weave together a wide range of historical and contemporary evidence from the Roman Empire, medieval Venice, the Soviet Union, Latin America, England, Europe, the United States, and Africa to provide a new theory of political economy that addresses some of today’s big questions, including:

Will China continue to grow at such a high speed and overwhelm the West?
Are America’s best days behind it?
What is the most effective way to help move billions of people from the rut of poverty to prosperity?

Both researchers are part of CIFAR’s Institutions, Organizations and Growth research program and their new book is a testament to the high quality of research produced by members of this collaborative group. The questions addressed in their book, as well as the analytical approaches employed, align directly with CIFAR’s program.

“This is a splendid book, based on the best of scholarship, yet accessible to a broad audience,” says Elhanan Helpman, (Harvard University and Tel Aviv University) program director of Institutions, Organizations and Growth. “Daron and James belong to a small group of scholars who have immensely improved our understanding of political economy and the role of political institutions in economic development. Their new book is a tour de force in the analysis of political transitions and their role in economic growth”

The CIFAR program examines the effects that institutions and organizations have on economic growth. Comprised of an international cohort that covers the fields of economics, history, anthropology and political science, the program takes an integrated approach to addressing the question of what makes some countries rich and others poor. Researchers in the program have devised new ways to help nations grow out of poverty, informing the work of international institutions such as the World Bank and International Monetary Fund.

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