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  • Published: 13 June 2024
  • ISBN: 9780241279175
  • Imprint: Penguin eBooks
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 304

Left Behind

A New Economics for Neglected Places

The world-renowned economist offers a ground-breaking new vision for inclusive prosperity

Left behind places can be found in prosperous countries—from South Yorkshire, integral to the industrial revolution and now England’s poorest county, to Barranquilla, once Colombia’s portal to the Caribbean and now struggling. More alarmingly, the poorest countries in the world are diverging further from the rest of humanity. Why have these places fallen further behind? And what can we do about it?

World-renowned development economist Paul Collier has spent his life working in neglected communities. In this book he offers his candid diagnosis of why some regions and countries are falling further behind, and a new vision for how they can catch up. Collier lays the blame for widening inequality on stale economic orthodoxies that prioritize market forces and centralized bureaucracies like the UK Treasury. In contrast, a new wave of academic research has revealed the crucial role of collective learning, social capital and local agency in reversing decline and equalising life-chances.

Drawing on insights from social psychology, moral philosophy and behavioural economics, as well as a range of illuminating case studies, Collier shares a galvanizing vision for a more inclusive, prosperous world.

  • Published: 13 June 2024
  • ISBN: 9780241279175
  • Imprint: Penguin eBooks
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 304

About the author

Paul Collier

Paul Collier is a professor of economics at Oxford University. The author of Wars, Guns and Votes: Democracy in Dangerous Places and The Bottom Billion, which won the 2008 Lionel Gelber Prize for the world's best book on international affairs, he has lectured widely on the subjects of economics and international relations.

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Praise for Left Behind

Paul Collier shows how centralized authority and economic orthodoxy have hollowed out communities and deepened the divide between prosperous and neglected places. Ranging across politics, economics, and moral philosophy, he offers a compelling vision for renewal. This tour de force book points the way to a political economy of shared prosperity and common purpose’

Michael J. Sandel, author of THE TYRANNY OF MERIT

A wide-ranging account of why societies have gone so badly wrong in the early 21st century by emphasizing individualism, and an ambitious – but essential – agenda for tackling some of the problems

Professor Diane Coyle, author of GDP: A BRIEF BUT AFFECTIONATE HISTORY

A MUST READ reminding all of us to hold onto hope, chronicling stories of communities that are progressing against the odds

Sylvana Quader Sinha, Member of the Council on Foreign Relations

Being left behind is a curse on people, places, and even whole countries. Paul Collier brings his astonishing range of global experiences and interdisciplinary knowledge to forge a guidebook for catching up. He challenges the belief that the market is a trustworthy remedy and catalogues the many collective strategies that have worked in the past and can work again. Great wisdom lies herein

Angus Deaton, Nobel Laureate for Economic Sciences

Brilliant, orthodoxy-upending … this book is a compelling and practical manifesto for a better future. It is not only required reading but demands action

Andy Haldane, CEO of the RSA

Paul Collier has written another brilliant, must-read book for anyone interested in human progress. I greatly enjoyed this book, you will too

Baroness Dambisa Moyo, author of DEAD AID

The misleading biology of "Selfish Genes" seemingly vindicated the dash to gross inequality. Collier's book reveals the extent of that damage in a wide variety of countries, and the many ways in which it may be fixed

Denis Noble FRS

Left Behind is a tour de force. Challenging economic orthodoxies and the "one size fits all" solution of market forces, Paul Collier presents us with a fascinating analysis of marginalized communities in rich and poor countries and how they got that way. More importantly, he tells us how they can lift themselves out of poverty and into prosperity through sound leadership and agency following a bottom-up approach. Reading the book left me with a sense of optimism and hope that those who get left behind need not stay that way

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Director-General of the World Trade Organization

In this brilliant, passionate, angry book, Paul Collier makes a completely convincing case for hope. Drawing on a wide range of persuasive case studies from across the world Collier shows that with appropriate support left behind places can "spiral up" – rebuilding their communities and their economies through respect, hard work and good governance. In the process he draws on the latest research to show us what good states look like and how they operate. A manual for the future for all of us.

Rebecca Henderson, John and Natty McArthur University Professor, Harvard University

In Left Behind, one of the world’s foremost development economists distills practical lessons for how neglected places can be drawn back into the mainstream. The book is replete with examples from all over the world, suggesting there are some common principles that can drive revitalization, whether in the developed or developing world. Collier’s vision of a more inclusive and prosperous world is alluring, this book tells us how we might get there

Raghuram Rajan, former Governor of the Reserve Bank of India

In Left Behind, economist Paul Collier tells a convincing tale of how market fundamentalism created inequality. He offers welcome solutions to global and regional disparities… full of vivid case studies exemplifying Collier’s theoretically simple but practically daunting proposition… a thought-provoking and refreshingly open-minded book


In this new book [Collier] draws lessons from a variety of ‘left behind’ places in the global north and the south… In these examples we see approaches tailored to local needs, rather than economic dogma dictated from afar. We see a focus on inclusive prosperity and participation. And we see agency rather than dependence and external control… an altogether more useful book that might make a difference in the here and now

Earthbound Report

Paul Collier's new book reveals how worship of the market made the UK one of the most unequal countries in the world... required reading for any incoming government

Will Dunn, New Statesman

Paul Collier seek[s] to bury not just Rishi Sunak and his cabinet but the whole economic approach that the Conservatives have taken since 2010, or perhaps even 1979

Robert Colville, Spectator

This is an essential, global and multidisciplinary analysis of the inequality-of-opportunity problem that continues to plague too many parts of the world and has a corrosive impact on our democracies

Tej Parikh, Financial Times

Left Behind is full of good ideasstimulating, a call to heal the divisions in our societies by bringing justice to the left behind. It should be essential reading for the new Labour Cabinet

Jason Cowley, The Sunday Times