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Getting Better: Why Global Development Is Succeeding--And How We Can Improve the World Even More [Kindle Edition]

Charles Kenny
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)

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Book Description

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.

Editorial Reviews


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.”

William Easterly, Professor of Economics at New York University and author of The White Man’s Burden: Why the West’s Efforts to Aid the Rest Have Done So Much Ill and So Little Good and The Elusive Quest for Growth: Economists’ Adventures and Misadventures in the Tropics 
“Gloom and doom have long been the default view of global poverty. It would take a clear-eyed and courageous researcher to show that the orthodox viewpoint is wrong. Such a researcher has finally appeared in Charles Kenny, who shows convincingly that most trends in human well-being worldwide, and region by region, are happily, dramatically positive. Read this delightful book and you will never look at global economic development the same way again.”
Tyler Cowen, Holbert C. Harri...

About the Author

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.

Product Details

  • File Size: 405 KB
  • Print Length: 258 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0465020151
  • Publisher: Basic Books (March 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #810,080 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Neccessary, though not sufficient May 9, 2011
After so many years of development-bashing, it began to feel like there was just no hope for sorting out the problems in the developing world. Even more depressingly, authors like Dambisa Moyo managed to court global fame, peddling views which were not only highly partisan, but poorly researched and ignored any contrary evidence.

So Charles Kenny's book is certainly a ray of sunshine; an island of hope in the sea of negativity. So of course the temptation is to hold this up and say 'ha! we knew we were right all along. development does work!' The book - which trumps the aforementioned Moyo on almost every level in terms of research, clarity of thought, balanced argument and all the rest, certainly does offer a new perspective on the progress of the poorest in the world. But 'poorest' is perhaps the wrong word to choose, as the central conceit of the book is that the relentless measurement of income as an indicator of quality of life - the 'dollar a day' epidemic - is misleading, because as his research shows, there is almost no link at all between growth in income and improvement of quality of life. In countries where there has been no growth at all, certain indicators like life expectancy have improved by as much as 50%, and conversely in countries where there has been steep economic growth such as China or Botswana, there is often a decrease in life indicators.

Kind of seems illogical doesn't it? One can buy into it fully, and accept that it takes someone with a totally new take and perspective to blow apart orthodoxies, and Charles Kenny is that man. One can put the shutters up, and just say no way, one man can't change the tide of all the other naysayers.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Incredibly Repetitive - September 24, 2013
Author Kenny's message is an important one - that while Africa and many other areas have lagged in terms of income growth over recent decades, they have also seen unprecedented improvement in health and education, security, and human rights. The problem with this message is, that after presenting a few overall statistics in documentation, he goes on and on and on for another 200+ pages. Simply put, the book should be condensed to about two pages.

Here's the 30,000' overview: Since 1960, global average infant mortality has more than halved. The percentage of sub-Saharan Africans who could read and write doubled between 1970 and 1999, from less than one-third to two-thirds. Between 1962 and 2002, life expectancy in the Middle East and North Africa rose from 48 to 69 years. The percentage of the world's infants vaccinated with DPT rose from 20% to nearly 80% between 1970 and 2006.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Curb your Pessimism January 10, 2012
I read an earlier draft, but this is an excellent antidote to the widespread pessimism about the world. Much of the pessimism about economic development is due to mutilitarianism: an overemphasis on measuring GDP. This book puts development into a fuller context. And it isn't as pie-in-the-sky as Sachs' books.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good points, far too repetitive. June 23, 2014
By Gandhi7
Format:Kindle Edition
While the author has some excellent points on how development is getting things right, and what can be done to improve where we are getting things wrong. I felt this book could have gotten all of those points across in about 30 pages. The author simply repeats the same points over and over for most of the book.

Additionally, the author structures sentences in a way that makes you have to re-read them to understand what he is trying to say. Several times I caught myself wondering why he would phrase a sentence in such an unusual way, when a simpler sentence would get the point across. It made the reading very sluggish at times.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great way of thinking about development and aid September 15, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
While this book is a little repetitive, it certainly has a fresh take on how aid to developing countries can help, and what kind of aid works well, and what doesn't work. As a returned Peace Corps volunteer, it certainly rings true with what I saw and observed in my three years in Africa.
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