Crown should get a copy of Acemoglu and Robinson’s “Why Nations Fail” over to the Romney campaign a.s.a.p. Speaking about the difference in income between Israelis and Palestinians, Romney suggested:

that cultural differences between the Israelis and the Palestinians were the reason the Israelis were so much more economically successful than the Palestinians. He also vastly understated the income disparities between the two groups.

Hin inspiration for the theory? Two books:

In his speech, Mr. Romney mentioned two books that had influenced his thinking about nations — “Guns, Germs and Steel,” by Jared Diamond, and “The Wealth and Poverty of Nations,” by David S. Landes. Mr. Diamond’s book, Mr. Romney said, argues that the physical characteristics of the land account for the success of the people living there, while Mr. Landes’s book, he continued, argues that culture is the defining factor.

“Culture makes all the difference,” Mr. Romney said. “And as I come here and I look out over this city and consider the accomplishments of the people of this nation, I recognize the power of at least culture and a few other things.”

After this caused some backlash:

[H]is campaign said that the Associated Press had “grossly mischaracterized” the remarks by not providing the full context. For instance, the campaign said, after mentioning the per capita G.D.P. of Israel and Palestine, Mr. Romney also said: “And that is also between other countries that are near or next to each other. Chile and Ecuador, Mexico and the United States.”

The Acemoglu and Robinson book begins with Nogales AZ (USA) vs Nogales Mexico and puts institutions at the center of an explanation of income disparities not culture or geography.

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