The Elusive Quest for Growth: Economists’ Adventures and Misadventures in the Tropics

Since the end of World War II, economists have tried to figure out how poor countries in the tropics could attain standards of living approaching those of countries in Europe and North America. A myriad of remedies has not delivered the solutions promised. The problem is not the failure of economics, William Easterly argues, but the failure to apply economic principle to practical policy work. In this book, Easterly shows how these solutions all violate the basic principles of economics, that people-private individuals and businesses, government officials, even aid donors – respond to incentives. Written in an accessible, at times irreverent, style, Easterly’s book combines modern growth theory with anecdotes from his fieldwork for the World Bank.

Sergio Rebelo, Tokai Bank Distinguished Professor of International Finance, Kellogg Graduate School of Management, Northwestern University
“This is a brilliant, original work. It is simply the best book I know on economic development. Easterly writes with clarity, honesty, and humor. And he is courageous in his analysis of what went wrong with the development policies followed by the World Bank.”

Richard N. Cooper, Foreign Affairs
“A highly readable and iconoclastic treatment of the determinants of economic growth.”

Bruce Bartlett, Wall Street Journal
“It is impossible to convey the depth and range of The Elusive Quest for Growth.”

Paul Romer, Graduate School of Business, Stanford University
“Every college student who protests against free trade and every young economist who builds models of development should read this extraordinary book. Easterly presents both the power of simple economic models of the development process and the painfully disappointing track record of official development assistance. He writes beautifully and cares deeply about his subject.”

Rudi Dornbusch, Ford Professor of Economics and International Management, MIT
“Curing emerging market poverty is on everyone’s list of priorities along with peace on earth. Yet the success has been dismal. This powerful book may help cure the ignorance of people with pat answers, do-gooders, the Seattle-Prague crowd, and economists who have neglected to keep up with the evidence. Far from dry, the book takes you to the scene, gives you the local color, and challenges you to concede that a lot of your prejudices are just that–yet in the process does not throw economics overboard. Brilliant!”