My Conversation with Daron Acemoglu

Self-recommending of course, most of all we talked about economic growth and development, and the history of liberty, with a bit on Turkey and Turkish culture (Turkish pizza!) as well.  Here is the audio and transcript.  Here is one excerpt, from the very opening:

COWEN: I have so many questions about economic growth. First, how much of the data on per capita income is explained just simply by one variable: distance from the equator? And how good a theory of the wealth of nations is that?

ACEMOGLU: I think it’s not a particularly good theory. If you look at the map of the world and color different countries according to their income per capita, you’ll see that a lot of low-income-per-capita countries are around the equator, and some of the richest countries are pretty far from the equator, in the temperate areas. So many people have jumped to conclusion that there must be a causal link.

But actually, I think geographic factors are not a great explanatory framework for understanding prosperity and poverty.

COWEN: But why does it have such a high R-squared? By one measure, the most antipodal 21 percent of the population produces 69 percent of the GDP, which is striking, right? Is that just an accident?

ACEMOGLU: Yeah, it’s a bit of an accident. Essentially, if you think of which are the countries around the equator that have such low income per capita, they are all former European colonies that have been colonized in a particular way.

And:

COWEN: If we think about the USSR, which has terrible institutions for more than 70 years, an awful form of communism — it falls; there’s a bit of a collapse. Today, they seem to have a higher per capita income than you would expect a priori, if you, just as an economist, write about communism. Isn’t that mostly just because of what is now Russian, or Soviet, human capital?

ACEMOGLU: That’s an interesting question. I think the Russian story is complicated, and I think part of Russian income per capita today is because of natural resources. It’s always a problem for us to know exactly how natural resources should be handled because you can do a lot of things wrong and still get quite a lot of income per capita via natural resources.

COWEN: But if Russians come here, they almost immediately move into North American per capita income levels as immigrants, right? They’re not bringing any resources. They’re bringing their human capital. If people from Gabon come here, it takes them quite a while to get to the —

ACEMOGLU: No, absolutely, absolutely. There’s no doubt that Russians are bringing more human capital. If you look at the Russian educational system, especially during the Soviet time, there was a lot of emphasis on math and physics and some foundational areas.

And there’s a lot of selection among the Russians who come here…

The Conversation is Acemoglu throughout, you also get to hear me channeling Garett Jones.  Again, here is Daron’s new book The Narrow Corridor: States, Societies, and the Fate of Liberty.

Comments

Another conversation where none of the participants has anything useful to say. My statistics professor would call it handwaving. The opinion swings from one question to the next. It's natural resources, no, it's human capital, institutions were bad, but no institutions weren't that bad, education is good, but not all are educated!

I thought this was significant: "f people from Gabon come here, it takes them quite a while to get to the" (North American per capita income levels as immigrants). It goes to IQ and cultural differences.

Stop your IQ nonsense. If you look at facts , second generation African immigrants are far more successful than Europeans and most other immigrants, certain countries from Asia. I doubt you have the intelligence to interpret the results, but if you can check Table 1 of "Socioeconomic Integration of U.S. Immigrant Groups Over the Long Term," a March 2018 working paper by Brian Duncan and Stephen J. Trejo https://www.usnews.com/news/national-news/articles/2018-03-19/most-immigrants-outpace-americans-when-it-comes-to-education-with-a-big-exception

Since when is education years a measure of IQ? It could be special education, or prison programs for social reeducation.

"second generation African immigrants are far more successful than Europeans and most other immigrants, certain countries from Asia"

Do you have a link for this? The one you provided is just a chart of number of years of education.

I wish it were true. But in general they don't assimilate and their children don't do well in school or in life after school. They then either fall on the public dole or commit crimes.

Pearls before swine.

I believe in hand wringing. The opinion swings from one good to another one. It's physical labor, and that is why its necessary.

But actually, I think geographic factors are not a great explanatory framework for understanding prosperity and poverty.

He thinks humans are just as productive when it's 90 as when it's 60? I know Willis Carrier sold AC with a bunch of studies that demonstrated how much more productive employees were when it was cool. These seem like pretty incontrovertible facts.

Could I prove it by setting up an office and factory in Rochester NY and an identical one in Miami FL without AC and compare how productive the employees were in a given year?

Let's do the comparison from January to February. Rochester, of course, no heating.

Wow you really are a moron. Humans have had heating technology for thousands of years. They have only had effective cooling technology for a bit over 100 years.

Easy, John, easy, boy. Didn't mean to touch a nerve.

Sorry to step on your sacred, "incontrovertible facts..

Hot and cold are relative terms.
When it is 20 below in German winter, you better know something about energy storage.

Isn't heating more about energy release?

False. Hot and humid areas have had the technology to cool living spaces for thousands of years. The methods are used with higher technology today to cool more efficiently: evaporative cooling, ground source.

The basic method is a high thermal mass structure with high ceilings and a vent to control air flow which draws in air though an underground channel, often over a pool of water. The heat of the day slowly heats the structure mass, and the hot air rises. When the living space becomes warm, the top vent is opened drawing air in from underground where the earth's lower temperature cools the air, aided by the hot and now less saturated air evaporating water which requires a huge heat transfer from the air to the water further cooling the air. These regions generally see high radiational cooling of the air, so the vent is closed to allow the structure thermal mass to maintain the living area temperature as the outside air cools and earth mass cools.

Similar design methods kept wooden structures cool in the US south, cooling air at night trapped during the day with interior protected from solar heating.

And the thermal mass of adobe brought by Spaniards combined with indigenous designs.

Such designs are high investments, ie, high labor costs, so in the early American immigration era, structures were built cheaply due to labor shortages. Along the way, the design knowledge was essentially lost, and when labor was abundant the knowledge and skill were lacking to reliably build structures with good thermal management.

Looking at an old structure that remains cool during the heat of the day and then adapting some of its features to conventional constructor often fails. Putting adobe walls on a conventional structure without the high ceilings, vents and controls, etc, will not make the structure more comfortable, but potentially more uncomfortable.

A/C is a brute force, high cost solution, which is done they way it is to kill jobs by substituting burning scarce capital. After all, how much will fossil fuel brute force heating and cooling cost in a thousand years in the US using current technology? Will fossil fuel extraction continue at even the current rate globally for the next thousand years?

We can both passively and actively cool and heat structures today with zero fossil fuels with higher labor costs up front. Actually doing this spreads knowledge to more workers who get better at the work bringing down the unit labor costs, but growing the labor demand far faster so total labor costs increase resulting in higher GDP growth, plus higher consumer income driving demand for higher GDP. Such shifts happen when idle labor is employed in building capital, eg during economic contractions which kill lots of jobs to cut labor costs, which then cut consumer demand, unless investments are greatly increased. Say building wind, solar, battery factories, and replacing fossil fuel burning with electric motors.

Hot and humid areas have had the technology to cool living spaces for thousands of years.

Hot and dry places have this option. Hot and humid places do not. Nothing but AC can deal with hot and humid conditions with any degree of practicality.

Nope.

Ventilation works for relatively small spaces. Multi floor buildings can be cooled via the chimney effect, but that also causes for to spread quickly so it isn't used.

Before a/c buildings were designed around a maximum distance from an opening window. High ceilings was you describe with top and bottom windows. To fill a city block with a building was impossible. A courtyard provided the exterior wall for ventilation. Buildings were hot and smelly.

Ac allowed the development of high rises that filled the block.

To rail against air conditioning is to promote low rise development and low density cities.


Before a/c buildings were designed around a maximum distance from an opening window.

Explain to me why these buildings were converted to AC if “ventilation” is as so effective?

Also, please explain the physics of using ventilation to cool a building when it’s 100 degrees with 100% humidity.

A/C was and still is a solution. Indeed at 100f with high humidity buildings were terribly uncomfortable and smelly. The designs to make them tolerable limited height and depth.

Indeed at 100f with high humidity buildings were terribly uncomfortable and smelly.

Where is this? Certainly not anyplace I've ever been in the US, Europe or Asia.

We can both passively and actively cool and heat structures today with zero fossil fuels with higher labor costs up front.

Absolutely. Those low-skilled immigrants and truants can be hired to pedal bicycles modified into big fans, blowing over blocks of ice in summer and barbecue grills in the winter months. Unemployment comes to an end.

"Effective cooling technology" is a strangely vague comment, even water is "effective" for some purposes.

But it's valid to say that cooling and heating technologies have had different tradeoffs over time, and that cooling technology may have been less useful than heating technology. Though with the caveat that tropical areas may have had other advantages.

But anyway, in the first place it's dumb to suggest that lack of A/C really explains much of the early modern era divergences - technology in 1600 AD type of things - which then probably explain much of present day differences.

Cambodian folks could build Angkor, probably the largest urban area on Earth in the medieval period, but not windmills and watermills (and various other mechanical engineering, including the printing press), because it was hot? No, there have to be other reasons why the use of mechanisms, energy sources and innovations spread in the patterns they did (and I am not saying necessary Garrett Jones' likely favored ones, but not "It was too hot").

+ tropical diseases

"He thinks humans are just as productive when it's 90 as when it's 60?"

But if you look at equatorial South American countries, there are many temperate areas in the mountains. Where on earth is there really a more temperate climate than, say, Medellin, Colombia? Average high temps range all the way from 80F in December to 83F in July (while lows 'vary' from 63 to 64F). Is a high of 80 too hot? Then how about Quito, where the average high is in the high 60s and the average low in the high 40s year round.

Don't you need flat land for high productivity agriculture? Cool and flat could be a requirement.

"I know Willis Carrier sold AC with a bunch of studies that demonstrated how much more productive employees were when it was cool. These seem like pretty incontrovertible facts."

That made me chuckle. Thanks.

People, cultures get acclimated to climate over the course of generations.

Climate is one part of geography. Natural resources (soil productivity, minerals, water, forests,...) would strike me as being of importance historically.

People, cultures get acclimated to climate over the course of generations.

No they really don't. 100 degrees and 100% humidity cripples human productivity no matter how long your culture has been exposed to it.

Why it only took me a week to acclimatize to doing my paperwork in the sauna!

Geographic factors: Former colonies is an explanation for lower income per capita around the equator, but then what's the explanation for being colonized. I suppose an explanation is that places far from the equator didn't have the natural resources as places near the equator, so the places far from the equator had a need for colonizing the places near the equator while the places near the equator didn't. What about America: Why was the hot South slow in development while the cold North was fast(er)? An explanation is that the South chose slavery, which resulted in reliance on agriculture rather than technology and development. An alternative explanation is that the moderate climate in the South was more conducive to agriculture than the cold North; in other words, the same explanation why places near the equator were slower in development (as measured by income per capita). If places near the equator were so great, why did humans migrate to the north? Maybe the genetically inferior humans migrated north because, being genetically inferior, they didn't know better.

Or Southern Italy vs. Northern Italy. Japan vs. Thailand.

Japan and Thailand both were successful in resisting colonization. That's why they weren't colonized. They were both under dire threat of colonization. They simply figured out ways to avoid it (ways that might not be available to other places/people, or under different threat scenarios). Not all people (meaning social groups, not countries) wanted to avoid colonization, but rather profited by it (for a while at least, and relative to the alternatives).

I guess Singapore was colonized in an unparticular way.

Singapore only really began to flourish with the adoption of air conditioning.

https://tradingeconomics.com/singapore/gdp

Spoken like an AC salesman!

Phoenix would have a population of maybe 10K without AC.

"Essentially, if you think of which are the countries around the equator that have such low income per capita, they are all former European colonies that have been colonized in a particular way." What a pathetic copout.

Suppose you attempted the same graph for the year 1200 BC. The north would then be pisspoor. The fertile crescent and Egypt would be rich. Presumably parts of China (and India?) would be rich. Maybe tiny bits of the Americas?

But much of the equatorial world would be very poor indeed, long before colonisation by Europeans.

No, Egypt, the fertile crescent, parts of China, and India were not rich in 1200 BC and were about as poor as Europe.

Their wealth was in the size of their population (see my comment below).

You made a different point below about the transition to industrialization in the late 1700. There were no wealthy areas in 1200 and life expediencies were very close to those in Europe then.

"There were no wealthy areas in 1200" lol, I love this.

But we were happy! Happy with each other and with what we had!

I meant 1,200 BC but no wealth in 1,200 either.

Or maybe living at around $1,500 a year in today's dollars in Iraq with hardly any technology should be considered wealthy. Europe, Asia and Egypt were around $1,000 in 1200.

1 - 1800 (Maddison Project)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_regions_by_past_GDP_(PPP)_per_capita#1%E2%80%932008_(Maddison)

So, in your view, knowing how to make electricity from the sun and store it in batteries to drive electric motors on demand, is worth a few bucks, or a trillion bucks, because we have that knowledge today and they didn't a thousand or thousands of years ago. Note, any patents creating monopoly for that knowledge are expired, though making a 1% improvement can result in a year or two of added profit in a huge market and thus is worth tens of millions, but there are so many potential ways of a 1% improvement that the patent has little lasting value without authoritarian state power to prevent competition, eg, Trump imposing 25% tariffs and banning imports.

China has so many workers in clean room manufacturing and too many companies have so many interlocking patents requiring cross licensing with so many doing production in China and with Chinese firms being so critical to tech product manufacturing, China dominates by the democracy of markets, consumers voting with their money for Chinese workers doing more invention and innovation in production.

Trump is trying to fight democracy of markets, blocking consumers from voting with their money. He's trying to force consumers to buy pollution and higher cost energy at the same time he's trying to cut the income of money consumers have to spend, while boosting consumer spending by enslaving them to debt they will be burdened with after he's gone and thus will blame on those who replace him.

Egypt was wealthy because they had a society that paid consumers to pay workers across time and space. Ie, during growing season, workers produced more than they consumed, and that allowed them to pay others in their communities to produce things from "farm" production. Workers to some degree shifted between production systems, but the master farmers only farmed and the master builders etc only built, etc, but at higher rates seasonally as resources and labor allowed.

It wasn't slaves that built monuments but the master builders who had customers for their much larger production of non-monuments bought by "farmers" who produced "too much" food bought by the builders.

The monuments are like the US going to the moon, things done because of the power of markets to increase production by workers voting with money for more production. The Cold War caused workers to vote for "defense" against the commies, and going to the mon was workers voting to spend their money on a monument to the power of US worker/consumer market voting for more and more production/consumption.

Reading Friedman circa 1970, he was arguing that government was inciting voters to produce and consume too much with drove up prices because all factors of production saw too much demand. He argued for slower growth, and since 1970, we have had slower growth because voters voted for government to slow growth. But the elites who embraced Friedman wanted to be much richer which requires making others poorer and thus unable to consume as much, unless they go into future slavery by borrowing, and then dying deep in debt sticking others with their slavery.

Asia is cashing in the debt by buying America: businesses, real estate, farms, etc. Sort of like turning the US into a colony.

Hypothesis: Maybe with their long growing seasons, equatorial areas have done well in agriculture throughout history, and developed large populations fed by that agriculture. More extreme northern latitudes never had easy agriculture and could only support smaller populations.

So when the industrial revolution occurred, is was easy for northern latitude peoples to switch from agriculture--not that much going for them in that sector anyway. Plus, when they made money from industry, they had smaller populations to divide the import money.

I'd guess nope, agriculture probably in early phases often tougher and more marginal in SE Asia and India with poorly adapted crops coming from China and and Near East. Tougher in Africa too. Temperate crops and animals don't by magic do well in tropical areas they aren't from. Took a long time for these areas to catch up, and agriculture still tough in lots of them.

Primary hearths of agriculture in a continent generally held the advantage (e.g. Mesoamerica, despite being tropical, North China despite being not). Technology probably generally spreads more easily from primary hearths to adjoining similar climate areas (North China->Japan, easier than North China->Vietnam, etc.). But rise of Europe is probably somewhat sui generis beyond this effect of simply being close to the Near East (and likely due to particular political history).

What is this guy a blank slatist?

The winter killed off all the stupid people in the north in times past. You needed to be able to think ahead and prepare for the winter or you would die.

'You needed to be able to think ahead and prepare for the winter or you would die.'

Which undoubtedly explains why cultures such as the Chinese, the Mayans or the Babylonians did not invent calendars, nor were they able to think ahead when planning massive irrigation works, compared to the vastly superior civilizations found in places like Siberia or Lappland.

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/02/180221131851.htm

Archeologists have long known that some of the technologies used by the Yamnaya later spread to Europe. But the startling revelation from the ancient DNA was that the people moved, too -- all the way to the Atlantic coast of Europe in the west to Mongolia in the east and India in the south. This vast migration helps explain the spread of Indo-European languages. And it significantly replaced the local hunter-gatherer genes across Europe with the indelible stamp of steppe DNA, as happened in Britain with the migration of the Bell Beaker people to the island.
---
And native Americans:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indigenous_peoples_of_the_Americas
Illustration of Paleo-Indians hunting a glyptodont
The specifics of Paleo-Indian migration to and throughout the Americas, including the exact dates and routes traveled, are the subject of ongoing research and discussion.[40][41] According to archaeological and genetic evidence, North and South America were the last continents in the world to gain human habitation.[40] During the Wisconsin glaciation, 50–17,000 years ago, falling sea levels allowed people to move across the land bridge of Beringia that joined Siberia to northwest North America (Alaska).[42][43] Alaska was a glacial refugium because it had low snowfall, allowing a small population to exist. The Laurentide Ice Sheet covered most of North America, blocking nomadic inhabitants and confining them to Alaska (East Beringia) for thousands of years.[44][45]
----

All this is pre Babyon. It is cold weather folks bringin adanced civilization back to the mederterranean. This include China:

The Han Chinese trace a common ancestry to the Huaxia, a name for the initial confederation of agricultural tribes living along the Yellow River.[58][59] The term Huaxia represents the collective Neolithic confederation of agricultural tribes Hua and Xia who settled along the Central Plains around the middle and lower reaches of the Yellow River in northern China.[60][61][62][59]

---

You are homo erectus on leaving Africa. Then you are homo sapien from the ice line. What happened? Abstract thought is needed when the entire world is completely white. You have to think: If I pretended to through a rock, how far would it go in the snow. When you have that, you have abstract thought, you can find where you food is stored.

'It is cold weather folks bringin adanced civilization back to the mederterranean.'

Really? I look forward to the link suggesting that those cold weather folks are responsible for Babylonian irrigation projects or mathematics.

Particularly as this, from your first link, suggests that the true northerners, in XVO's terms, the ones who actually had to worry about the harshness of a real northern winter, were not good at the basis of civilization - "Archaeological evidence shows that when farmers first spread into northern Europe, they stopped at a latitude where their crops didn't grow well," he says. "As a result, there were persistent boundaries between the farmers and the hunter-gatherers for a couple of thousand years."

Mathematics as we know it was invented by Greeks, who as is well known came into Greece from further North some centuries before Homer. Babylonians (and Egyptians) had some empirical mathematical knowledge, but in all their tablets there is not one proof or explanation why a particular problem is solved that particular way. Greeks assimilated, systematized and abstracted this knowledge (Pythagoras and Thales famously studied in Egypt), and used it to develop mathematics.

But I agree that a lot of the "hurr durr we the winter people" stuff is as dumb as this Tyler-Acemoglu interview.

All found in shithole countries today. Thanks for proving my point.

'Thanks for proving my point.'

Which is that massive irrigation projects to support population large enough to live in cities (that being the fundamental definition of civilization), and the development of mathematics are actually the products of Siberian and Lappland societies?

Work harder when trying to justify why northern Europeans (OK, maybe Romans count too, along with the Greeks) are inherently superior. It makes white people look stupid to anyone with even the slightest awareness of the history of civilization.

If Sailerites could understand this stuff, they wouldn't be Sailerites.

They are self-selected.

https://twitter.com/KirkegaardEmil/status/1201302484532301824

lol, 10 likes. Surely you have found a paragon for your beliefs.

Yeah, it takes a special brand of brains to "understand" the sinuous prevarications, convenient redefinitions and piles of irrelevant details with which Birney and his ilk try to bury group differences in desirable traits.

Just-so stories are not science. Thread.

Neither is your link

Neither science nor a critical analysis. This is a really bizarre shtick you're on where you accuse people of being anti-science and then repeatedly cite to random Twitter rants

Are you under the mistaken impression that Sailerites should be taken seriously?

Some takedowns of Birney et al.'s preposterous article here: https://emilkirkegaard.dk/en/?p=8120

The fact that you keep linking this random loser reinforces my point, doesn't it? If Sailerites could understand this stuff, they wouldn't be Sailerites.

Instead, they'll self-reference their small number of fools and think they've won something.

It appears that by "understand" you mean "agree with me". I'd suggest consulting the dictionary, but it's probably hopeless.

It is characteristic of all these dogmatic systems and especially of the esoteric systems that their admirers assert of all critics that ‘they do not understand’; but these admirers forget that understanding must lead to agreement only in the case of sentences with a trivial content. In all other cases, one can understand and disagree. (Popper, The Open Society and its Enemies, note 52 to chapter 11)

This game is so old. Sailerites reject standing science, and link it randos as substitute. All while claiming that since they found some randos, they've got the science.

But as I say, if Sailerites could understand this stuff, they wouldn't be Sailerites.

Why Race Is Not a Thing, According to Genetics

Human ancestry correlates with language and reveals that race is not an objective genomic classifier

Race Is a Social Construct, Scientists Argue

But let me guess, you've got some randos who disagree?

Isn't calling your opponents "some randos who disagree" actually the oldest game in town? Pfui. Your "standing science" would be way more convincing if they didn't fire people (including eminent scientists) holding other views, and what's more, the scientific "consensus", which is not an infallible guide to truth anyway, is not nearly so consensual as you seem to think, as you would know if you troubled yourself to read what the "Sailerites" are saying and quoting and not imagine what they should be saying based on your prejudices. And did you actually read Birney et al.'s opus? They do say that geographical landmasses broadly align with the folk taxonomies of race and they use these same folk taxonomies in their article when discussing human variation, occasionally relabeling them as "ancestries" to avoid using the word "races", as if it made any difference.

PS: this comment exhausts my weekly quota of "somebody's wrong on the internet" comments. Have a good day.

Turkish pizza is like a very thin layer of baked pita bread covered with pieces of meat and herbs on top. It's not bad, but American pizza is so much more delicious and filling. There's no comparison. It's like comparing garlic bread to pizza.

And the Turkish director you mentioned, Nuri Ceylan, I think his movies are the most boring films with no action, super slow, like watching a screen capture on my computer for five minutes, taking a short break, and repeating.

I agree with him on Pamuk and Erdogan.

The Middle Eastern “pizza” you refer to isn’t meant to be very flavorful. It serves two functions. If you’re on the go and get it from a street vendor, it’s a complete meal that’s cheap, portable, and filling. It has protein (typically ground beef), fat (brushed olive oil), and carbs in a good ratio. It can also balance out an assortment of mezze dishes at a dinner party. My favorite “sfiha” as it’s called in Arabic is covered either in zataar (toasted oregano) or muhammara (hot pepper and walnut paste) - those meatless varieties are quite flavorful, especially the latter. I’d take an authentic shawarma or kebab sandwich over that any day, but that wouldn’t be as healthy.

I would also add that IIRC one of the thesis from the book Guns, Germs and Steel was that winter kills off a lot of pests, parasites and disease. In a place like East Africa the constant burden of disease extracts a heavy toll on productivity.

Winter used to kill off a lot of people, too.

Think how much effort used to go into combating cold! You had to have warm clothes and houses with thick walls, to cut, haul and burn fuel (which emits CO, NOx and harmful particulates) both for heat and light because days are so short, you need both wheeled and sledged transport... you can't reap 3-4 harvests per year, either, just the one if you're lucky. If all this is not a heavy toll on productivity then I don't know what is.

I just finished listening to the podcast and had to wait for the last couple of minutes before the most important part. When asked what TV shows he watches, Acemoglu said he really doesn't but does do downloads. He then says he has been enjoying 'Berlin Station.' Yes, the three season show was really quite good!!! Real twist of an ending.

>"Yeah, it’s a bit of an accident."

Not a bright guy, is he? This is the best he can do?

Next time your boss notices that none of the work he assigns you ever gets done, please try to respond "Yeah, it's a bit of an accident."

Tyler, I have enjoyed the vast majority of your CWT. This one was particularly interesting since you seemed more willing to push on topics a bit more. Although I like your general interview technique, I have to say I enjoy this slightly more confrontational style even more!

I hope you read this comment, and please apply whatever style you think will be fruitful. Perhaps you let things slide when you feel pushing guests will be counterproductive.

If these excerpts are the highlights, I tremble at how dull your subject must be for the rest of the interview. Oh well, not everyone can be bright.

1) European rebellion vs. Catholicism, a top-down political and religious structure, brought about respect for individual freedoms. (In other words, individualism was in response to Catholic consolidation of power through its tactic of merging politics and religion.) See Jan Hus & Martin Luther (with Luther confirming Acemoglü's German-centric hypothesis), then arrival of anti-religious and anti-Catholic French Revolution.

2) South Korea is developed despite corruption because it is only one of two steadfast USA allies in SE Asia (other one is Singapore, though most people would include Taiwan) and therefore benefits from preferential tech transfers (Android/Samsung), military protection (witness SK's resistance to increasing its military spending to 2% of GDP), loans, USD currency access, and trade.

3) In fact, most countries--including South Korea--with high evangelical Christian population tend to invite corruption but manage to stay afloat in part because of disproportionate influence by evangelicals in D.C. re: foreign and other aid. (See also Trump's favoring of Christian immigrants and therefore USD remittances.)

4) Re: women's roles in Islamic countries, see Pakistan (Bhutto), Bangladesh (Zia, Hasina), Singapore (Yacob), Turkey (Çiller), Indonesia (Sukarnopurti), N. Cyprus (Siber), & Senegal (Touré). Note that current resistance to female political leadership and participation is most likely not due to sexism per se but to continued intertwining of political and military roles. (An academic might want to study female political participation within context of overall and per capita military spending.)

I enjoy Tyler's blog, but starting a post describing one of his interviews with "Self-recommending of course" is content-free, except to indicate some boastfulness on his part.

It's amazing to see the extent to which economists will go to avoid using IQ as an obvious factor to explain why some countries are more developed than others

Unbearable nonsense from charlatan acemoglu.

I was impressed by Acemoglu's knowledge and intelligence and thought it was a great interview.

Acemoglu has a point, I think, when he is skeptical about the wisdom of China's elite to impose innovation from the top. At one stage in the history of modern China party cadres were, however, clever enough not to suppress an innovation which wasn't of their own making and let a grass-roots innovation spread. The innovation was private ownership of farm land which multiplied crop yields. That trick was re-invented by farmers in 1978 at Xiaogang village. You can read accounts of this story by Michael Meyer in the WSJ, April 16 2019, "The quiet revolution that saved China," and by D. Gale Johnson in his 1996 review of "How the farmers changed China: Power of the people" by Kate Xiao Zhou. Boulder, Colo. Westview Press, 1996. Cato Journal 16(2): 273–276.
The take-home message of it all: Let widely spread-out property rights blossom and people will flourish!

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