In Why Nations Fail professors Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson assert that strong, inclusive political and economic institutions—not geography, culture, or market-based tendencies—determine a nation’s success or failure. Their findings, based on fifteen years of original research, have garnered excellent to favorable reviews from academia as well as from leading voices in the international aid and development community. However, in February, Microsoft founder Bill Gates criticized the book in a much-publicized review on his website (link to his review).
In response to Gates’ assessment, the authors responded with a pointed and detailed retort:
“Why Nations Fail received the harshest reviews from those who see geography and culture as the root causes of poverty, and enlightened leaders — or even more enlightened outside donors and organizations — as the keys to economic development. Perhaps unsurprisingly, given his dedication to international aid, billionaire foundation chief Bill Gates falls into this category: His Feb. 26 review of our book was particularly uncharitable. Unfortunately, however, it was also dead wrong on many counts.” To read the rest of their essay, click here.
What do you think of Bill Gates’ assessment of Why Nations Fail? What of the counterpoints made by the authors?