We have updated our Privacy Policy Please take a moment to review it. By continuing to use this site, you agree to the terms of our updated Privacy Policy.

How Rich Countries Got Rich and Why Poor Countries Stay Poor

On sale

24th July 2008

Price: £14.99

Selected:  Paperback / ISBN-13: 9781845298746

Disclosure: If you buy products using the retailer buttons above, we may earn a commission from the retailers you visit.

How Rich Countries Got Rich is a narrative history of modern economic development from the Italian Renaissance to the present day.

In it Erik S. Reinert shows how rich countries developed through a combination of government intervention, protectionism, and strategic investment. Reinert suggests that this set of policies in various combinations has driven successful development from Renaissance Italy to the modern Far East. Yet despite its demonstrable success, orthodox development economists have largely ignored this approach and insisted instead on the importance of free trade.

Reinert presents a strongly revisionist history of economics and shows how the discipline has long been torn between the continental Renaissance tradition on one hand and the free market theories of English and later American economics on the other. He argues that our economies were founded on protectionism and state activism and could only later afford the luxury of free trade. When our leaders come to lecture poor countries on the right road to riches they do so in almost perfect ignorance of the real history of mass affluence.


Reviewed alongside H-Joon Chang’s book in Financial Times.
Unlike much of the writing produced by opponents of globalization, these are serious books by serious people. They deserve to be read.
Network Ideas
Reinert asks the most fundamental questions about economic development, and proceeds to answer them with clear logic, a sweeping grasp of history and an immensely readable style.
Prof Perez, Cambridge University.
Warning: this book will forever change your conception of economic development.
Prof Freeman, Univ of Sussex.
A breakthrough in our understanding of the links between technology and the wealth and poverty of nations.
The Sunday Telegraph
It lands powerful punches.