Summary of The 6 Killer Apps of Prosperity

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  • Controversial
  • Eye Opening
  • Well Structured


How have Westerners dominated the global economy for several centuries? And is this dominance ending? Harvard professor Niall Ferguson explores these questions in this intelligent TED Talk. He attributes the West’s success not to imperialism or geography as some experts propose, but to “six killer apps,” or differentiating philosophies. getAbstract believes Ferguson’s presentation will ignite discourse among economists, anthropologists and historians.

About the Speaker

Niall Ferguson is a professor of history at Harvard University.



What caused “the Great Divergence,” the moment when the West surpassed the rest? In 1500, the 10 Western nations that later became empires accounted for only 5% of the world’s geography and 20% of its income. By 1913, these empires, plus North America, possessed 58% or the land and produced nearly 75% of global economic output. Experts often cite imperialism as the reason for Western success. Yet the Ottoman and Mughal empires failed to produce such dominance, and decolonization was widespread by the 1970s, when the Great Divergence reached its pinnacle. Nor does geography offer a tenable explanation. The division of Germany into East and West, and Korea into North and South, provided two “natural experiments.” Although each...

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