The Great Escape: Health, Wealth, and the Origins of Inequality

The Great Escape: Health, Wealth, and the Origins of Inequality

by Angus Deaton
     
 

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The world is a better place than it used to be. People are healthier, wealthier, and live longer. Yet the escapes from destitution by so many has left gaping inequalities between people and nations. In The Great Escape, Angus Deaton--one of the foremost experts on economic development and on poverty--tells the remarkable story of how, beginning 250 years ago

Overview

The world is a better place than it used to be. People are healthier, wealthier, and live longer. Yet the escapes from destitution by so many has left gaping inequalities between people and nations. In The Great Escape, Angus Deaton--one of the foremost experts on economic development and on poverty--tells the remarkable story of how, beginning 250 years ago, some parts of the world experienced sustained progress, opening up gaps and setting the stage for today's disproportionately unequal world. Deaton takes an in-depth look at the historical and ongoing patterns behind the health and wealth of nations, and addresses what needs to be done to help those left behind.

Deaton describes vast innovations and wrenching setbacks: the successes of antibiotics, pest control, vaccinations, and clean water on the one hand, and disastrous famines and the HIV/AIDS epidemic on the other. He examines the United States, a nation that has prospered but is today experiencing slower growth and increasing inequality. He also considers how economic growth in India and China has improved the lives of more than a billion people. Deaton argues that international aid has been ineffective and even harmful. He suggests alternative efforts--including reforming incentives to drug companies and lifting trade restrictions--that will allow the developing world to bring about its own Great Escape.

Demonstrating how changes in health and living standards have transformed our lives, The Great Escape is a powerful guide to addressing the well-being of all nations.

Editorial Reviews

The New York Times - Fred Andrews
…an illuminating and inspiring history of how mankind's longevity and prosperity have soared to breathtaking heights in modern times.
The New York Times Book Review - David Leonhardt
Deaton…does not stint on describing the world's problems…Yet Deaton's central message is deeply positive, almost gloriously so. By the most meaningful measures—how long we live, how healthy and happy we are, how much we know—life has never been better. Just as important, it is continuing to improve. Deaton is surely aware that many readers will view these claims with skepticism…He addresses this skepticism with both sweeping and granular descriptions of how life has improved…Deaton's writing is unfailingly accessible to the lay reader…All in all, The Great Escape…[is] one of the most succinct guides to conditions in today's world.
From the Publisher
"Professor Deaton hits the psychological nail on the head when he suggests that aid is 'more about satisfying our own need to help.' He identifies the related issue of 'aid illusion'—the belief that poverty in poor countries can be solved by rich people transferring money."—Peter Foster, Financial Post

"This is a fascinating book on health, wealth and inequality."—Bibek Debroy, Businessworld

"Development economist Deaton draws on his lifelong interest in and considerable knowledge of economic development to tell the story of modernization and the rise from worldwide poverty. Chapters illustrating demographic and economic trends utilize well-crafted charts and graphs to depict the rising paths that countries, first the US and western Europe and more recently China and India, have taken as their populations improve their health, education, and income-making abilities."Choice

"The Great Escape is an eloquent and passionate description of what sickness and health look like for the world's populations and economies. Deaton's history of health and wealth offers a compelling narrative for both the general reader and academics alike. It raises a range of questions of why some countries falter, why others succeed and what can be done to close gaps between them."—John Parman, EH.Net

"The Great Escape is a good place to start if you are looking to increase your own understanding of inequality as you attempt to add more light than heat to the debates. . . . I found the book humbling, disquieting, and lacking in easy answers to complex questions—precisely why I also found it thoughtful and useful."—W. Steven Barnett, Business Economics

"Deaton's book ends up making a powerful contribution to economists' evolving understanding of the importance of institutions."—David N. Weil, Journal of Economic Literature

"In The Great Escape Angus Deaton has provided an insightful, thought-provoking and highly readable overview of the progress of human wellbeing. There is much that both general and specialist audiences will learn from it—I recommend it highly."—Jeff Borland, Economic Record

"[A] wonderful book."—Martin Wolf, Financial Times

"This book is a timely reminder that the conditions that facilitated this progress were created not only through the progress of health science, but through a political effort to ensure that science benefited all."—Sara Davies, International Affairs

"Deaton takes the reader on a richly detailed tour through a landscape of historical narrative, science, data from across the world, and scholarly debate. And he is a superb guide: erudite, lucid, humane, and witty."—David Weil, Journal of Economic Literature

"In The Great Escape Angus Deaton has provided an insightful, thought-provoking and highly readable overview of the progress of human well being. There is much that both general and specialist audiences will learn from it - I recommend it highly."—Jeff B. Orland, Economic Record

"Deaton takes the reader on a richly detailed tour through a landscape of historical narrative, science, data from across the world, and scholarly debate. And he is a superb guide: erudite, lucid, humane, and witty. . . . Deaton's book ends up making a powerful contribution to economists' evolving understanding of the importance of institutions."—David N. Weil, Journal of Economic Literature

"Deaton's The Great Escape is an uplifting and refreshing read for all who are tired of the many books on economic gloom and environmental doom."—Rolf A.E. Mueller, Quarterly Journal of International Agriculture

"Highly accessible."—Jeremy Warner, Daily Telegraph

"The Great Escape by Angus Deaton, the Scotsman who got this year's Nobel Prize in economics, is an extremely thoughtful overview of economic development and what goes into it. In ways the book is a stirring tale of the long march since the Industrial Revolution out of generalized poverty to the much more prosperous world we know today, with close attention to the relationship between rising prosperity and generally improved health conditions. Well-written by a superb economist with great command of analysis and data. I recommend it highly."—John Snow, former Treasury Secretary, one of Bloomberg's Best Books of 2015

"The Great Escape . . . is a thoughtful and optimistic consideration on why some nations are wealthy, and thus healthy, and why others are not."—Trey Carson, Review of Austrian Economics

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781400847969
Publisher:
Princeton University Press
Publication date:
09/22/2013
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
376
Sales rank:
228,579
File size:
3 MB

Meet the Author

Angus Deaton, winner of the 2015 Nobel Prize in economics, is the Dwight D. Eisenhower Professor of Economics and International Affairs in the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs and the Economics Department at Princeton University. His many books include The Analysis of Household Surveys and Economics and Consumer Behavior. He is a past president of the American Economic Association.

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