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Daron Acemoglu's Top Book Recommendations

Want to know what books Daron Acemoglu recommends on their reading list? We've researched interviews, social media posts, podcasts, and articles to build a comprehensive list of Daron Acemoglu's favorite book recommendations of all time.

Even after the ruinous financial crisis of 2008, America is still beset by the depredations of an oligarchy that is now bigger, more profitable, and more resistant to regulation than ever. Anchored by six megabanks—Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, Wells Fargo, Goldman Sachs, and Morgan Stanley—which together control assets amounting, astonishingly, to more than 60 percent of the country’s gross domestic product, these financial institutions (now more emphatically “too big to fail”) continue to hold the global economy hostage, threatening yet another financial meltdown with their... more
Recommended by Francis Fukuyama, Daron Acemoglu, and 2 others.

Francis FukuyamaObviously that’s way overstated, but it is remarkable that here we are in 2012, the fourth year after the crisis. We still don’t have an adequate regulatory system in place to prevent a crisis like this from happening, and the recent collapse of MF Global indicates that in many respects Wall Street hasn’t learned lessons either, in terms of the kinds of risks they’re willing to take. (Source)

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Using a vast swath of data spanning the past six decades, Unequal Democracy debunks many myths about politics in contemporary America, using the widening gap between the rich and the poor to shed disturbing light on the workings of American democracy. Larry Bartels shows the gap between the rich and poor has increased greatly under Republican administrations and decreased slightly under Democrats, leaving America grossly unequal. This is not simply the result of economic forces, but the product of broad-reaching policy choices in a political system dominated by partisan ideologies and... more
Recommended by Daron Acemoglu, and 1 others.

Daron AcemogluYes. The real worry is that as inequality has increased in the US, and perhaps because the nature of our political system has changed for other reasons, money has started becoming much more important in politics. Politicians have become much more responsive to the wishes and the views and the voice of the very wealthy. That’s what Larry Bartels’s book, Unequal Democracy, is about. There are parts... (Source)

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The Race Between Education and Technology

This book provides a careful historical analysis of the co-evolution of educational attainment and the wage structure in the United States through the twentieth century. The authors propose that the twentieth century was not only the American Century but also the Human Capital Century. That is, the American educational system is what made America the richest nation in the world. Its educational system had always been less elite than that of most European nations. By 1900 the U.S. had begun to educate its masses at the secondary level, not just in the primary schools that had remarkable... more
Recommended by Timothy Noah, Daron Acemoglu, and 2 others.

Timothy NoahWhat I think is really ingenious about this book is that it squares the circle. In the 1990s Bill Clinton told us that computers had revolutionised what was required from the workforce and that all of a sudden you needed to get a college education to perform in this knowledge-based economy. Goldin and Katz actually point out that the technological changes at the beginning of the 20th century were... (Source)

Daron AcemogluThis is a really wonderful book. It gives a masterful outline of the standard economic model, where earnings are proportional to contribution, or to productivity. It highlights in a very clear manner what determines the productivities of different individuals and different groups. It takes its cue from a phrase that the famous Dutch economist, Jan Tinbergen coined. The key idea is that... (Source)

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Why Nations Fail

The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty

Brilliant and engagingly written, Why Nations Fail answers the question that has stumped the experts for centuries: Why are some nations rich and others poor, divided by wealth and poverty, health and sickness, food and famine?

Is it culture, the weather, geography? Perhaps ignorance of what the right policies are?

Simply, no. None of these factors is either definitive or destiny. Otherwise, how to explain why Botswana has become one of the fastest growing countries in the world, while other African nations, such as Zimbabwe, the Congo, and Sierra...

Mark ZuckerbergMy next book for A Year of Books is Why Nations Fail by Daron Acemoğlu and James A. Robinson. This book explores the different kinds of social institutions and incentives that nations have applied to encourage prosperity, economic development and elimination of poverty. This is a good complement to our last book, Portfolios of the Poor, which focused on how people live in poverty. This one... (Source)

Bill Gates"I read two books that raise big, interesting questions about social change and technological progress. I’m planning to write longer reviews of each of these books, but let me flag them for you now. One is Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty by Daron Acemoglu and James A. Robinson.The topic of this book is why some countries have prospered and created great living... (Source)

George MagnusThe role of institutions is really important for societal development. (Source)

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