William Easterly is Professor of Economics at New York University, joint with Africa House, and Co-Director of the NYU Development Research Institute. He is also a non-resident Fellow of the Center for Global Development in Washington, D.C. Easterly received his Ph.D. in Economics at MIT and spent sixteen years as a Research Economist at the World Bank. He is the author of The White Mans Burden: How the Wests Efforts to Aid the Rest Have Done So Much Ill and So Little Good (Penguin, 2006), The Elusive Quest for Growth: Economists' Adventures and Misadventures in the Tropics (MIT, 2001) and over 50 published articles. Easterly's areas of expertise include the determinants of long-run economic growth and the effectiveness of foreign aid. He has worked in most areas of the developing world, but most notably in Africa, Latin America, and Russia. Easterly is an associate editor of the Quarterly Journal of Economics, the Journal of Economic Growth, and of the Journal of Development Economics.
I think the divergence between the success of the west and the rest was again this issue of individual values versus collectivism, that the rest continued to embrace a kind of collective approach to society where they valued clan, or nation, or ethnic group above the individual. And the individual’s kind of sacrificed to the well being of the clan, or ethnic group, or nation. To where I think of the great breakthrough in the west was to place the value on the individual instead of the nation, the collective; to value the individual more than collective. And of course individuals in the west are also patriotic and feel a group pride and group loyalty; but the fundamental unit of value is the individual. That’s what I think really made the big difference in the success of the west. Recorded on: 7/6/2007