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What makes nations rich?

"Why are some countries rich and others poor? Why do some countries experience sustained levels of high growth that propel them into the ranks of the rich while others stagnate, seemingly in perpetuity? These are perhaps the most fascinating and important questions in all of economics." (from Economic Growth in the Concise Encyclopedia of Economics)

For that matter, how do we define "rich" and "poor?" It seems a period of low economic growth is inevitable in the wake of the COVID pandemic. How will we know when the economy starts to grow again? And what can we do-at the macro or micro level- to try to foster more growth? We hope this month's QuickPicks collection helps you explore these sorts of questions and start a conversation with someone today.

Speaking of conversation, thanks to all those who have been participating our current online reading group! Join us for a few more days as we tackle James Buchanan's Limits of Liberty. And join us next month to discuss Tyranny Comes Home. Visit our #EconlibReads page to learn more!

Is there something else you'd like to see- either in QuickPicks or online more generally? Let us know at or on social media. We're listening.

Economic Growth 
Economic growth occurs whenever people take resources and rearrange them in ways that make them more valuable. A useful metaphor for production in an economy comes from the kitchen. To create valuable final products, we mix inexpensive ingredients together according to a recipe.
Economic Growth in Africa
Listen to this EconTalk podcast with Morton Jerven, and then use our complementary questions for a class discussion or assignment.
Autocratic Growth?
Do poor countries led by autocrats grow faster than others? This EconTalk episode with Bill Easterly explores this question.
High School Topics
Find even more resources related to economic growth in our High School Topics collection!
Robert Solow
Robert Merton Solow was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1987 “for his contributions to the theory of economic growth. Read more in his CEE bio.
Ideas and Economic Growth
A fundamental issue in all of the disciplines that study human society, including economics, is the relative role of material conditions versus human agency as causal forces. Many writers focus on material conditions. For example, such a viewpoint can be seen in the title of Jared Diamond’s famous Guns, Germs, and Steel. Those of us on the other side of that debate, including Mokyr, assign more credit to intangible factors, notably ideas and culture.
Education's Impact
How does educational quality impact economic growth? Hanushek discusses his research on this question with EconTalk host Russ Roberts.
Empirics of Economic Growth
Since the late 1980s, economists have done extensive work on the determinants of economic growth. As yet, however, there are few widely agreed-on results. The lack of consensus is unfortunate because increasing the growth rates of the world’s many poor countries is a primary global policy goal
Smith v Malthus?
While many liberty-loving economists are happy to correct the criticisms of Smith, many are equally happy to criticize Malthus for the Malthusian trap, not realizing that the usual portrayal of Malthus is equally false. Malthus shares far more with Smith than most expect. 
What Would Adam Smith Say?
Explore how division of labor fosters economic growth right from the source- with some guided reading of the Wealth of Nations.
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