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The Rational Optimist: How Prosperity Evolves by Matt Ridley

By Matt Ridley

“Ridley writes with panache, wit, and humor and screens awesome ingenuity to find how one can current complex fabrics for the lay reader.” — Los Angeles Times

In a daring and provocative interpretation of monetary background, Matt Ridley, the New York Times-bestselling writer of Genome and The crimson Queen, makes the case for an economics of wish, arguing that some great benefits of trade, know-how, innovation, and change—what Ridley calls cultural evolution—will unavoidably raise human prosperity. lovers of the works of Jared Diamond (Guns, Germs, and Steel), Niall Ferguson (The Ascent of Money), and Thomas Friedman (The global Is Flat) will locate a lot to consider and revel in in The Rational Optimist.

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Example text

Thus, when the Janata Party received an electoral plurality to defeat the Congress Party government in 1 9 77, its 4 1 . 3 percent of the votes yielded 5 4 · 5 percent of the legislative seats for a seats/votes ratio of 1 . 3 2. In the elections of 1 9 9 6, 1 9 9 8 , and 1999, the Bharatiya Janata Party ( BJP) won pluralities of seats . While these were smaller than some of the majorities achieved by the Congress Party in its heyday, the BJP has still received about one-third of the seats in the Lok Sabha.

With this in mind, we treat as " political " those institutions that contrib­ ute to decision making by regulating the aggregation of political prefer­ ences into coherent (not necessarily desirable ! ) outcomes. Examples of such political institutions abound. , Rae 1 9 7 1 a; Taagepera and Shu­ gart 1 9 89 ; Lijphart 1994; Cox 1 9 9 7 ) . , Shepsle 1 9 79 ; Weingast and Marshall 1 9 8 8 ; Cox 2ooo). , Epstein and Knight 2ooo; Maltzman, Spriggs, and Wahlbeck 2000 ). In each of these cases, political institutions constrain the aggregation of preferences into outcomes.

This is T9. Analyses like Popkin ( T 9 7 9 ) , Tong ( T 9 8 8 ), and Lichbach ( T 9 9 5 , T 9 9 6 ) also belie common claims that optimizing accounts cannot be used to address the political behavior of the powerless. For a recent instance of such a claim, see the statement that " epistemological commitments to uncertainty, ambiguity, and messiness invite interpretivists to focus on social movements, political resistance, and modern povver in ways that are irrelevant to rational choice theorists " (Wedeen 2 0 0 2 , 7 2 6 ) .

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