A lot of people are depressed about the state of global development. And they are particularly miserable about Africa. Getting Better: Why Global Development Is Succeeding – And How We Can Improve the World Even More (Basic Books) explores the bad news and the good news about development. It lays out the evidence on growing income disparities between the global rich and the global poor that are at the heart of a narrative of crisis. And it chronicles the failed search for a silver bullet to overcome economic malaise. But it also discusses the considerable successes of development. Not least, the evidence for any country being stuck in a Malthusian nightmare is threadbare. The book points to global progress in health, education, civil and political rights, access to infrastructure and even access to beer. This progress is historically unprecedented and has been faster in the developing world than in the developed. The book argues that ideas and technologies are the driving forces behind progress. And it suggests what the success of development and the importance of innovation to that success mean for policies in and policies towards the developing world.
The book has no charts or graphs. However, many of the arguments made in the book are easily illustrated. This essay provides a summary of the book and pictures to accompany the discussion.