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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Charles Kenny is a senior economist on leave from the World Bank as a joint fellow at the New America Foundation and the Center for Global Development. He lives in Washington, D.C.Review:
“Gloom and doom have long been the default view of global poverty. It would take a clear-eyed and courageous researcher to show that the orthodox viewpoint is wrong. Such a researcher has finally appeared in Charles Kenny, who shows convincingly that most trends in human well-being worldwide, and region by region, are happily, dramatically positive. Read this delightful book and you will never look at global economic development the same way again.” Tyler Cowen, Holbert C. Harris Professor of Economics, George Mason University
“Charles Kenny is one of the best and deepest writers on economic growth and its relationship to quality of life in the modern world. This book represents the pinnacle of his thought.” Felix Salmon, finance blogger for Reuters
“This nuanced and brilliant book is a must-read for anybody who wants to understand the complexity of development. Kenny doesn’t traffic in trite or facile diagnoses or solutions; instead, he compellingly lays out both the obstacles to success and the good reasons to be hopeful. I learned more from this book than from any other book I’ve ever read: it’s chock-full of important facts, corralled masterfully. Enjoy, and be illuminated!”
Jeni Klugman, Director and Lead Author, Human Development Report, United Nations Development Programme
“This book is an important and welcome counterweight to much of the doom and gloom that pervades popular and policy discussions about Africa. It makes important contributions in documenting the major advances in aspects of human development that have intrinsic value—health, knowledge and empowerment—that have been experienced by people in the poorest parts of the world, drawing attention to the role of ideas and innovation. Yet Charles Kenny does not shy away from the fact that, as underlined by the 2010 Human Development Report, not all good things go together. The extent of poverty and inequality, including but not only in terms of incomes but other dimensions of well being, remains a major concern. There are important implications for policy makers in developing countries, and the basic message of realistic optimism should inform all those interested in development assistance and ways to sustain progress in the future.”
Bill Gates, Wall Street Journal
“Elegant and deeply researched... The case made by Mr. Kenny in “Getting Better” is a powerful antidote to overly gloomy assessments of development aid. . . . After years of doom and gloom on the subject of foreign aid, it is refreshing to find so thoughtful and contrarian an approach to the topic. Charles Kenny shines a light on the real successes of aid, and he shows us the benefits that additional smart investment can bring.”
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