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Book talk: ‘Why do some countries gamble on development, and others don’t?’

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Duration: 1:36:41 | Added: 27 May 2022
Stefan Dercon talks about his new book, with further discussion from David Pilling (Financial Times) and Melinda Bohannon (FCDO)

In the last thirty years, the developing world has undergone tremendous changes. Overall, poverty has fallen, people live longer and healthier lives, and economies have been transformed.

And yet many countries have simply missed the boat. Oxford’s Stefan Dercon’s new book, “Gambling on Development: Why some countries win and others lose”, asks why it is that some of the previously poorest countries have prospered, while others have failed.

Stefan argues that the answer lies not in a specific set of policies, but rather in a key ‘development bargain’, whereby a country’s elites shift from protecting their own positions to gambling on a growth-based future. Despite the imperfections of such bargains, China is among the most striking recent success stories, along with Indonesia and more unlikely places, such as Bangladesh, Ghana and, tentatively, Ethiopia. Gambling on Development is about these winning efforts, in contrast to countries stuck in elite bargains leading nowhere.

At the talk, he is joined by David Pilling (Financial Times), Melinda Bohannon, (Director of Strategy at FCDO) and Ricardo Soares de Oliveira (Oxford University).

The event will debate some of the themes of the book: how economics and politics are deeply connected, how naïve policy prescriptions distract, how international policies and aid can help or distort, but also the remarkable role played in some countries by leading groups and individuals to drive progress, and the failures of local elites elsewhere.

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