I took this picture as I was travelling across the Middle East. I wrote this post on the plane… This happens quite often.
Today I choose to review “Why Nations Fail”. A book co-authored by Daron Acemoglu (MIT) and James Robinson (Harvard).
The authors bring about a new perspective to reading and understanding the world we live in. The root cause – in their opinion (backed by 15 years of research) – of poverty is man-made political and economic institutions. This is contradictory to most other theories. The book consists of a daring attempt to analyze why some nations are rich and some others are poor.
The book argues that nations that fail are ones with non-inclusive political and economic institutions. They coined the word “extractive” as the opposite of inclusive in order to portray the concentration of power in the hands of a few.
An inclusive institution is one that allows people to make their own decisions in relation to life, work, etc.
Authors claim that 200 years ago there was no gap between nations and within one nation. The world has changed in the midst of political and economic turmoil.
In one of my interviews as I applied for my doctoral studies, I was asked about what the three concerns of the world at a global level are. I had mentioned it was climate change, the refugee crisis, and Trumpism. However, there has been only a few persuasive answers to why these concerns exist until this book saw light.
This is a highly recommended read. There is no question about that. It is also quite awakening. Yet, it has received the harshest feedback. Despite all the praise, one of the most prominent figures of the century – Bill Gates (read book review here) put the book down. Critique came from those who primarily believe that man-made institutions do not drive poverty. It is the geography and the culture of nations – Quite defeatist I believe.
Recent best sellers fall into a similar trap. Great ideas do not need to be so repetitive. Good books do not have to be lengthy. This book overused some of its ideas (and terminology: inclusive vs. extractive). Additionally, being interested by Middle Eastern affairs, I thought that the analysis of the Middle East is not satisfactory. This has been the case of most similar books (a few have been reviewed on my blog earlier). They seem to ignore the diversity of the region. The authors have put a very big responsibility on the Ottoman patronage for the region’s socio-economic and political situation: how about Middle Eastern countries that have oil and those that do not?
This is a must-read. It is a sweeping attempt to explain not only poverty (1.29 billion people struggling to survive on less than USD 1.25 per day) but various forms of gut-wrenching world problems.
Check the book-related blog for more readings!
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