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James Robinson: Why Nations Fail

A dramatic border in Africa between Gisenyi in Rwanda and Goma in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Image credit: Google Earth

A dramatic border in Africa between Gisenyi in Rwanda and Goma in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Image credit: Google Earth

Hosted by Cornell University and The Center for the Study of Economy and Society (CSES), James Robinson, co-author of the book “Why Nations Fail”, talks about how modern economic growth rests on innovation. How innovation is usually seen as proportional to effort, investment, and levels of accumulated knowledge technological prowess – as positive forces. But innovation also requires overcoming the negative forces of established authority, intellectual ‘sunk costs,’ and the vested interests who benefit from maintaining status quo beliefs.

“Why Nations Fail” is a book by two economists, Daron Acemoglu (professor of economics at MIT) and James Robinson (professor of economics at Harvard) about the importance of political and economic institutions for economic growth. It is one of several perspectives and presented ideas on why certain countries and continents has a history of economic prosperity and other’s do not. And why these differences remains today.