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The Source of African Poverty, Part Five: A Real Life Case Study

Please check out our previous articles on this series; that is, Part One, Part Two, Part Three and Part Four

For today’s discussion, we will use a book called Why Nations Fail – The Origins of Power, Prosperity and Poverty; authored by Daron Acemoglu and James A. Robins (published in 2012, by Random House).

As we have stated in the previous instalments on the discussion of the sources of African poverty, our goal is not to show preference or support of certain theories over others. We will present the different thoughts and theories on the subject, from experts; and also, at some point we will pit the different theories against each other.

For instance; today’s instalment of our ongoing discussion will introduce a comparative case study, taken from Acemoglu and Robins. As we will show later on in this article, this study contradicts the theory presented by Ian Morris in our previous article (ie, Part Four)

This is a very interesting comparative study in many ways. In lot of comparative studies, the authors/researchers usually try to compare different people, in different countries, sometimes even in different continents and hemispheres. Not the Acemoglu and Robins’ study though.

Their study makes use of a very unique circumstance. The study is based on ONE city! But this city makes for a good “laboratory” because of this key reason: this city is split between two countries; that is, the USA and Mexico.

The city has a Spanish name; it is called Nogales. The north part of the city, the part that falls under the USA, is called Nogales, Arizona. The southern part of the city, falling under Mexico, is called Nogales, Sonora.

Because of the uniqueness of this situation, we are able to get a study where the following key points are true:-

Firstly: the people to be compared are the same; same culture, race and language.

Secondly: the geography and climate is the same.

Our previous article, Part Four, singled-out geography as having been the main determinant of poverty and wealth. Acemoglu and Robins brush the issue of geography aside. Nogales, Arizona out-does Nogales, Sonora economically – but these two places are essentially one place geographically.

The USA part of Nogales has low crime rates, its citizens live longer, and they earn three times more than the citizens of the Mexican part of Nogales.

Please join us on Part Six, where we will further explore the case of the two Nogales.

Further reading