Why Nations Fail Essay

Topics: Economic growth, Sociology, Economics Pages: 5 (1538 words) Published: May 1, 2013
Background information on the authors
Daron Acemoglu
A professor of Applied Economics at M.I.T., Daron Acemoglu is among the “20 most cited economists in the world.” (Daron). Acemoglu is describe as hot as an economists gets. He has received the prestigious John Bates Clark Medal. Acemoglu is the co-author, with Harvard's James Robinson, of the New York Times bestseller Why Nations Fail, which, like Jared Diamond's Guns, Germs, and Steel, is a major work of historical, political and cultural heft that comes along once every few years. “Born in Turkey and educated in England, Acemoglu has written for mainstream magazines such as Esquire and co-edits academic publications, such as The Journal of Economic Growth” (Daron). Acemoglu's expertise stretches across a full spectrum of macroeconomics, with a focus on the role of institutions in economic development: how will institutions react to the demographic shifts to the 21st century? How will the rise of new superpowers change the global economy?

James A. Robinson
James Robinson is David Florence Professor of Government at Harvard University and a faculty associate at the Institute for Quantitative Social Science and the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs. He studied economics at the London School of Economics, the University of Warwick and Yale University. He previously taught in the Department of Economics at the University of Melbourne, the University of Southern California and before moving to Harvard was a Professor in the Departments of Economics and Political Science at the University of California at Berkeley. His main research interests are in comparative economic and political development with a focus on the long-run with a particular interest in Latin America and Sub-Saharan Africa. He is currently conducting research in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sierra Leone, Haiti and in Colombia where he has taught for many years during the summer at the University of the Andes in Bogotá.

The prosperity of a nation depends on a level playing field. If there are extractive institutions designed by only a few elite people who extract resources from the majority, the society will not grow. This does not encourage investment or innovation. In order for a nation to flourish, people need these things to utilize their talents. Without a level playing field and institution that provide investment and innovation, a nation will fail. Chapter 1 Summary- So Close and Yet So Different.

Chapter 1 explains why certain nations prosper over others. “The United States today is also far richer than . . . [third world countries] . . . because of the way its institutions, both economic and political, shape the incentives of businesses, individuals and politicians." (Acemoglu and Robinson 42). The authors are saying that citizens need incentives to help build a nation. Without a nation’s institutions, citizen’s incentive to work hard and use their talents to build their nation will decrease. Chapter one compares America’s economic institutions to other nations such as Mexico. Particularly Nogaleses, Arizona to Nagoleses, Sonora. In America, most citizens have a high school degree, while in Mexico they do not. Many teenagers in Mexico do not even attend school. Why is this? “ …the very border that defines the two halves” ( Acemoglu and Robinson 9). This chapter gives the reader an answer to why two groups of people who are so close in geography are not on the same scale in salary. People in Mexico and other third world countries lack incentive due to the different economic institutions. Chapter 2 Summary- Theories That Don’t Work

Three theories of development are offered, described, and rejected in this chapter as valid explanations for world income/wealth inequality. The first theory is the Geography hypothesis. This hypothesis claims that the great divide between rich and poor countries is created by geographical differences. The authors explain that even though...
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