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Why Nations Fails Essay

1726 words - 7 pages

Why Nations Fail
In this essay, I am reviewing a book entitled Why Nations Fail written by Daron Acemoglu, and James Robinson. The book was written in 2012, and the authors mention the ongoing Arab Spring as they were putting together their ideas in writing. This coincidence makes me wonder if these authors were also impacted by the information revolution or the information outburst as Nye (2013) often chooses to call. In fact, the authors did not mention the term ‘information revolution’ in the book; they simply state that Egyptians are on the street not because they are poor, as many scholars and political analysts suggest, but because power has resided in the hands of a few ...view middle of the document...

Before they present their argument in depth, the authors have first ruled out several hypothesis that many think are the root causes of poverty. One of these hypothesis that the authors have rejected is the geography hypothesis—people who live in tropic of Cancer and Capricorn are tend to be lazy due to the climate of these regions, and lazy people lack curiosity, and are tend to be led by dictators. The authors argue that geography hypothesis is insufficient because countries like Botswana, Singapore, and Malaysia have managed to prosper even if they all have tropical climate. The modern version of the climate hypothesis is rather, according to the authors, the effect that disease, particularly malaria, have on productivity. The book again refutes the claim stating that infant mortality or the prevalence of malaria cannot explain poverty in Africa or in tropical regions elsewhere; disease, as they argue, is rather caused by the inability of governments to follow right public health measures. There are numerous other hypothesis that the authors label as invalid. For example, even if the writers believe that some cultures favor institutional differences and economic inequalities, they are again opposed to the claim that the protestant reformation and the progressive protestant culture promotes business ownership, or encourages prosperity. In their arguments against this claim, the authors provide some list of rich nations (Singapore, Russia, Italy, France, and China) that have no connection to the protestant culture.
One interesting analogy that the Acemoglu et al (2012) have used almost throughout the book is the case of Nogales, Arizona in the U.S. and Nogales, Sonora in Mexico. As the authors indicate, these two cities exhibit a number of similarities including race, culture, geography, but they are separated by fence that separates U.S. from Mexico. The people of Nogales Arizona are entitled to the economic institutions of the U.S., for instance, to attend free school, to obtain business licenses without going through much bureaucracy, and to political rights: to bring their leaders to power or to vote them out if they misbehave; and politicians here render fundamental services to the citizens. Living on the other side of the fence, the people of Nogales, Sonora have much limited opportunities, and thus live in a separate world molded by a different institution (Acemoglu et al, 2012). Here, when these authors state that ‘politicians provide basic services to the people of Nogales, Arizona’, it makes me think of the important role that state still plays in this age where many readings suggest that states’ role is being overtaken by non-state actors. In refuting a geography or climate hypothesis, the authors present a plausible argument by citing the fact that the two Nogales, North and South Korea, as well as East and West Germany (before 1989) exhibit or exhibited a totally different level of economic condition. Generally, the book...

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