's book The Wealth and Poverty of Nations: Why Some Are So Rich and Some So Poor
has some interesting ideas.
Landes argues that a nation
and societal structure are strong factors that determine how well it does economically. For example, European society
encouraged technological and organizational innovation
s. Those innovations, fostered by a concept of progress
, let Europe
surpass and eventually dominate the rest of world.
Within Europe, Spain
ended up falling behind despite the wealth
it received from overseas. Spanish society (remember the Inquisition
) discouraged new ideas and drove off valuable people who didn't agree with the religious orthodoxy
. Landes points out the similarities between colonial Spain and the present-day OPEC
nations, none of whom can convert valuable resource
s into a long-term industrial infrastructure
Wealth and Poverty of Nations
goes into a lot more detail, of course. Even though it downplays some issues, such as colonialism
inequities within countries, it provides some worthwhile insights.