Getting Better: Why Global Development Is Succeeding--And How We Can Improve the World Even More

Getting Better: Why Global Development Is Succeeding--And How We Can Improve the World Even More

Charles Kenny

Language: English

Pages: 256

ISBN: 0465020151

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


As the income gap between developed and developing nations grows, so grows the cacophony of voices claiming that the quest to find a simple recipe for economic growth has failed. Getting Better, in sharp contrast, reports the good news about global progress. Economist Charles Kenny argues against development naysayers by pointing to the evidence of widespread improvements in health, education, peace, liberty--and even happiness.

Kenny shows how the spread of cheap technologies, such as vaccines and bed nets, and ideas, such as political rights, has transformed the world. He also shows that by understanding this transformation, we can make the world an even better place to live.

That's not to say that life is grand for everyone, or that we don't have a long way to go. But improvements have spread far, and, according to Kenny, they can spread even further.

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singularly failing to account for changes in GDP per capita across countries over time. But the model fits far better with the facts of global change in other measures of quality of life where change does appear to be driven by strong global trends and countries further behind are rapidly catching up. In turn, this suggests that the factors that drive the exogenous model—the global diffusion of technology and ideas—might play a larger role in quality-of-life outcomes than they appear to have with

civil strife, many with failing health institutions and decaying infrastructure. The low cost and global success of the smallpox eradication program suggest the power of ideas and technologies to dramatically improve quality-of-life outcomes even in the very worst of settings—and even where incomes are stagnant. And smallpox eradication does not look like it will be a one-off victory. For example, polio is now endemic in only four countries, and the disease’s death toll has fallen from a

step in efforts to sustain it. Before looking at that broader progress—and how we can make the world even better—it’s worth discussing what the “crisis of development” is, and at what, in particular, Africa has failed. A broad justification for a sense of failure regarding development is based on evidence regarding income growth, which many economists and those who follow their analyses take as the ne plus ultra of how to measure economic progress. In truth, evidence on income growth is not

so far is the role of donor programs in promoting the observance of civil rights. It is likely that the best things that donor countries can do to extend democracy are, first, to lead by example; second, to avoid sustaining regimes that practice widespread civil rights abuse by supporting them with aid or military assistance; and, third, to make democratic reform a condition of full integration (involving trade, finance, and migration)—a model practiced by the European Union with potential

“cross-country,” “economic,” “growth,” and “regression.” 12 Easterly, 1999b. 13 Levine and Renelt, 1992. 14 Pritchett, 1996. 15 World Bank, 2008c. 16 Rodríguez, 2006. 17 Keynes, 1933, p. 285. 18 Perkins and Perkins, 1999. 19 Holmes, 2008. 20 Acemoglu, Johnson, and Robinson, 2001. 21 Engerman and Sokoloff, 2005. 22 Nunn, 2008. 23 Comin, Easterly, and Gong, 2006. 24 Spolare and Wacziarg, 2006. 25 Gartner, 2005. 26 Barro and McCleary, 2003. 27 Diamond, 1997. 28 Kenny, 1999. 29

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