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:
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.”
Mark Bittman, Opinionator column, New York Times
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