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The Quest for Prosperity:
How Developing Economies Can Take Off
Justin Yifu Lin

Hardcover | 2012 | $27.95 | £22.95 | ISBN: 9780691155890
344 pp. | 6 x 9 | 2 line illus.
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Demystifying the Chinese Economy
Justin Lin

How can developing countries grow their economies? Most answers to this question center on what the rich world should or shouldn't do for the poor world. In The Quest for Prosperity, Justin Yifu Lin--the first non-Westerner to be chief economist of the World Bank--focuses on what developing nations can do to help themselves.

Since the end of the Second World War, prescriptions for economic growth have come and gone. Often motivated more by ideology than practicality, these blueprints have had mixed success on the ground. Drawing lessons from history, economic analysis, and practice, Lin examines how the countries that have succeeded in developing their own economies have actually done it. He shows that economic development is a process of continuous technological innovation, industrial upgrading, and structural change driven by how countries harness their land, labor, capital, and infrastructure. Countries need to identify and facilitate the development of those industries where they have a comparative advantage--where they can produce products most effectively--and use them as a basis for development. At the same time, states need to recognize the power of markets, limiting the role of government to allow firms to flourish and lead the process of technological innovation and industrial upgrading. By following this "new structural economics" framework, Lin shows how even the poorest nations can grow at eight percent or more continuously for several decades, significantly reduce poverty, and become middle- or even high-income countries in the span of one or two generations.

Interwoven with insights, observations, and stories from Lin's travels as chief economist of the World Bank and his reflections on China's rise, this book provides a road map and hope for those countries engaged in their own quest for prosperity.


"Lin, the chief economist and senior vice president for the World Bank from 2008 to 2012, tackles prevailing shibboleths in this provocative and challenging work. . . . While there is no easy answer to these problems, Lin's reminder that such development is not a 'zero-sum game' suggests that his thoughtful study should resonate among international audiences."--Publishers Weekly

"[A] brilliant survey of economic thought on the subject, from Adam Smith through Solow-Swan to Michael Spence's Growth Commission. Thousands of authoritative-sounding economic history essays will be written on the back of it by students smart enough to read it before their professors do. . . . [A]s an accessible summary of how the World Bank . . . thinks about development these days, The Quest for Prosperity is hard to beat. It will quickly find its way on to the course reading lists for development economics master's programmes."--Howard Davies, Times Higher Education

"Justin Lin, the Chinese economist who was, until recently, chief economist of the World Bank, has written a book that is as remarkable as it is ambitious: its aim is to show the route to economic development. This is ambitious, because it has been the holy grail of economics since its inception. It is remarkable, because he largely succeeds. One does not have to accept everything Lin argues to recognise that he has made an invaluable contribution. . . . Moreover, the book is also excellently written. A book on a subject of the highest importance, which is intelligent, original, practical and thought-provoking, deserves indeed to be read."--Martin Wolf, Financial Times

"In this book, Justin Yifu Lin, the World Bank's first non-western chief economist, offers a fascinating overview of development thinking since the Second World War."--Lisa Moyle, Financial World

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