In This Review

Beating the Odds: Jump-Starting Developing Countries
Beating the Odds: Jump-Starting Developing Countries
By Justin Yifu Lin and Célestin Monga
Princeton University Press, 2017, 384 pp

Lin, a former chief economist of the World Bank, and Monga, the chief economist of the African Development Bank, bring to bear their considerable scholarly credentials and practical know-how in this iconoclastic treatment of economic development in poor countries. The authors quarrel with the conventional wisdom about what is necessary for successful development. Instead of hawking a one-size-fits-all formula, they urge countries to find a niche in the world economy by taking a pragmatic approach tailored to their financial resources, labor markets, and types of government. That said, Lin and Monga tend to favor the creation of industrial or export zones, outfitted with infrastructure and unburdened by red tape—but also offered no protection from market forces. They have no ideological objection to an active role for government, which is often necessary, but they are wary of restrictions and regulations that allow only some players to profit.