Pakistan Institute of Development Economics



Why Nations Fail? (Keynote Video Lecture)

First of all, it is a great pleasure to be here. Thank you for inviting me. Given that communicating from a far is not the easiest thing to do, what I have decided to do is to give a quick overview of the arguments that have emerged from the book that James and I wrote. In fact, this book is a synthesis of about 16 years of research that James and I did. I think it is fair to say that a lot of economic development and economic growth is motivated by patterns that are reported in the book. In particular, this is data from Angus Madison’s life’s work, which is not entirely uncontroversial, but the overall pattern here is fairly uncontroversial. The patterns that we observe have actually been in the background of many attempts to understand long patterns of economic development. I think they also point out that it is going to be very difficult to understand why certain parts of the world that were either on par with, say, Asia, in particular the Indian Subcontinent and China, have increased their income per capita and their prosperity so much in 500 years leading to today, particularly from the period around early 1800s to essentially to the end of the World War II, where there is this big divergence taking place. The trends in economic development show that United States of America, Canada, New Zealand and Australia have pulled so much ahead of, say, Asia, where both India, the Indian Subcontinent in this case, and China more or less show the same picture, where there is not much growth going on until the end of the World War II.

Daron Acemoglu