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Publishers WeeklyStarred Review.
In this surprisingly spry read, authors and economics professors Fisman and Miguel tackle economic development issues in Africa, Asia and Latin America, beginning with the question: after decades of independence and billions in foreign aid, why are so many developing countries still mired in poverty? A big reason, they contend, is corruption. Looking at specific examples, Fisman and Miguel examine various methods and motives of corruption, how agencies counteract it, and what it means with regard to human nature and the fate of nations. Fascinating insights abound: the high correlation between UN diplomats' parking violations and corruption in the home country; the successful public shaming techniques used by Bogata's Mayor Antanas Mockus to reduce criminality; the drastic reduction in road building corruption resulting from Indonesia's simple statement that projects would be audited. Ultimately, Fisman and Miguel conclude that there's not enough verifiable, reproducible results to say whether poverty is intractable and corruption inevitable, or whether poor countries remain poor because they haven't received enough quality aid. Instead, they argue forcefully for more blind trials in economics research to evaluate various development approaches. This thorough, thoughtful guide to global corruption is an engaging, disarmingly upbeat read for fans of Freakonomics and Malcolm Gladwell.
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