Economics & Finance

The Great Escape: Health, Wealth, and the Origins of Inequality

A Nobel Prize–winning economist tells the remarkable story of how the world has grown healthier, wealthier, but also more unequal over the past two and half centuries


Sep 23, 2013
6 x 9.25 in.
50 b/w illus.
Economics & Finance
Buy This

The world is a better place than it used to be. People are healthier, wealthier, and live longer. Yet the escapes from destitution by so many has left gaping inequalities between people and nations. In The Great Escape, Nobel Prize–winning economist Angus Deaton—one of the foremost experts on economic development and on poverty—tells the remarkable story of how, beginning 250 years ago, some parts of the world experienced sustained progress, opening up gaps and setting the stage for today’s disproportionately unequal world. Deaton takes an in-depth look at the historical and ongoing patterns behind the health and wealth of nations, and addresses what needs to be done to help those left behind.

Deaton describes vast innovations and wrenching setbacks: the successes of antibiotics, pest control, vaccinations, and clean water on the one hand, and disastrous famines and the HIV/AIDS epidemic on the other. He examines the United States, a nation that has prospered but is today experiencing slower growth and increasing inequality. He also considers how economic growth in India and China has improved the lives of more than a billion people. Deaton argues that international aid has been ineffective and even harmful. He suggests alternative efforts—including reforming incentives to drug companies and lifting trade restrictions—that will allow the developing world to bring about its own Great Escape.

Demonstrating how changes in health and living standards have transformed our lives, The Great Escape is a powerful guide to addressing the well-being of all nations.

Awards and Recognition

  • Angus Deaton, Winner of the 2015 Nobel Prize in Economics
  • Winner of the 2013 William G. Bowen Award, Industrial Relations Section of Princeton University
  • One of Bloomberg Businessweek’s Best Books of 2015, chosen by John Snow
  • One of Bloomberg/Businessweek Best Books of 2013, selected by Christopher L. Eisgruber (president of Princeton University)
  • One of Forbes Magazine’s Best Books of 2013
  • Honorable Mention for the 2013 PROSE Award in Economics, Association of American Publishers
  • Shortlisted for the 2014 Spear’s Book Awards in Financial History
  • Longlisted for the 2013 Business Book of the Year Award, Financial Times/Goldman Sachs
  • A "Best Business Book of the Year for 2013" selected on LinkedIn by Matthew Bishop, Economics Editor of The Economist
  • Featured in The Sunday Times 2013 Holiday Roundup