Why Nations Fail

I picked up this book in 2017 — around six years after the publication — and I could not put it down. Why Nations Fail by Daron Acemoglu and James A. Robinsonseeks to explain why some nations are rich while others are poor. The authors present a simple hypothesis: institutions. If you like reading about institutional economics, Why Nations Fail is a must-read. Even though the book does contain some hard-to-grasp concepts, it is highly readable. Even though I first read it a few years ago, I come back now and then to reread it. As in the words of Steven Levitt, “Brilliant in its simplicity and power.”

One reply on “Why Nations Fail”

It is an exciting question, that the book covers. As a young student, I had read Paul Kennedy’s “Rise and Fall of the Great Powers” with enthusiasm. It was my first book on this question. This author already covered the conditions that come into consideration. The climate, religion, landscape features (sea, mountains, forest) or the competitive situation with neighboring countries are thus mapped out. I’ve been interested in the topic ever since. Daron Acemoglu and James A. Robinsonseeks point out that the rule of law and a free order are important to enable economic advancement. That makes sense. But when does such a state thrive with such institutions? The prerequisite for this is a certain culture and homogeneity of the state people, which must develop over centuries. So which comes first: the chicken or the egg?

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