What to Think About While Reading “Why Nations Fail”

Why Nations Fail

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1. Was the message convincing – why or why not?

2. How will knowledge of inclusive and extractive political institutions be of practical use for you in the international development field?

3. What are other works worth reading related to this book? (Jared Diamond’s Guns, Germs, and Steel comes to mind)

4. What are the strengths and weakness of the methodology (and emphasis on history)?

Here’s what USAID thinks you should think about while you read Why Nations Fail:

5. How do institutions create the incentives that lead to sustained development and poverty reduction?

6. Do you think that institutions explain all of the differences in development across countries, or are some of these differences due to geography, culture, ideas or even just luck (good or bad)?

7. The book argues that China has so far developed with extractive rather than inclusive institutions, and therefore China’s rapid growth cannot continue and may even collapse. Do you agree?

8. What are the implications of the arguments in this book for USAID and how we direct our assistance?

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Quote of the Week from Why Nations Fail

Why Nations Fail

The people who suffer from the extractive economic institutions cannot hope for absolutist rulers to voluntarily change political institutions and redistribute power in society. The only way to change these political institutions is to force the elite to create more pluralistic institutions.

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