The world is a better place than it used to be. People are wealthier and healthier, and live longer lives. Yet the escapes from destitution by so many have left gaping inequalities between people and between nations. In his book, Deaton takes an in-depth look at the historical and ongoing patterns behind the health and wealth of nations, and he addresses what needs to be done to help those left behind.

Deaton spoke about how the developing world's persistent difficulties with poverty and illness cannot be explained by just examining inequalities between countries concerning wealth. This common understanding of economic inequality misses other factors that combine to produce prosperous nations, particularly advances in medical technology. He describes how wealthy and poor nations diverged 250 years ago, and how despite general advances in medicine and vast increases in global wealth, poor nations continue to lag behind in terms of economic equality.

Deaton went on to explain how, despite good intentions, foreign aid to poor countries has managed to perpetuate one of the biggest reasons for this persistent divergence: the lack of administrative capacity of many governments to efficiently and fairly deliver healthcare and manage economic growth.

The discussion was moderated by Legatum Institute Senior Fellow Zachary Courser.


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About the Speaker

Angus Deaton is the Dwight D. Eisenhower Professor of Economics and International Affairs in the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs and the Economics Department at Princeton University. His many books include The Analysis of Household Surveys and Economics and Consumer Behavior.

He has also published numerous papers which examine the relationship between income and wellbeing and how best to measure wellbeing. Deaton is a commissioner for the Legatum Institute Commission on Wellbeing Policy, a one year commission which will explore how well being analysis can be usefully applied to policy.

He currently holds fellowships at the Econometric Society, the British Academy, and at the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and is a recipient of the Frisch Medal.