Why Nations Fail

The failure of Uzbekistan

By Daron Acemoglu and James A. Robinson
March 1, 2012

So why are millions of Uzbek schoolchildren out in the fields picking cotton?

Uzbekistan gained its independence when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991. Ismail Karimov, previously first secretary for Uzbekistan of the Soviet Communist Party, declared himself an Uzbek nationalist and became, and since then has remained, president through fraudulent elections and repression.

Welcome … to the world of failed nations

By Daron Acemoglu and James A. Robinson
March 1, 2012

Failure is all around us. When you hear of failed nations, you may immediately think or Somalia or Afghanistan, where state institutions have all but completely collapsed. But failed nations are much more ubiquitous. In this globalized and integrated world of ours, there are huge differences in economic prosperity across nations. According to the latest World Bank data, income per-capita in the US, at $47,360 is about 50 times that of Sierra Leone, of 40 times that of Nepal, or about 15 times that of El Salvador or Uzbekistan. These countries have not experienced the sort of state collapse that Somalia or Afghanistan did. They have nonetheless failed in reaching anything close to the sort of prosperity that countries like the US, Switzerland or Germany have. This is a failure no less consequential than that experienced by Somalia and Afghanistan. And it is every bit as much a result of the choices that these countries — or to be more exact, their elites and leaders — have made.