The rise of the West is often attributed the presence of certain features in Western countries from the 16th century that were absent in more traditional societies: the abolition of serfdom and Protestant ethics, the protection of property rights, and free universities. The problem with this reasoning is that, before the 16th century, there were many countries with social structures that possessed these same features that didn't experience rapid productivity growth. This book offers a new interpretation of the 'Great Divergence' and 'Great Convergence' stories. It explores how Western countries grew rich and why parts of the developing world (South and East Asia and the Middle East) did not catch up with the West from 1500 to 1950 but began to narrow the gap after 1950. It also examines why others (Latin America, South Africa, and Russia) were more successful at catching up from 1500 to 1950, but then experienced a slowdown in economic growth compared to other developing countries. Mixed Fortunes offers a novel interpretation of the rise of the West and of the subsequent development of 'the rest' and China and Russia, important examples of two groups of developing countries, are examined in greater detail. In Mixed Fortunes Vladimir Popov has provided a remarkably original and provocative analysis of economic growth and institutional change across the world but particularly in China, Russia and the West. While most conventional interpretations have seen this process as a consequence of either enhancing or stifling the power of market forces, Popov stresses the differing roles of the state in building institutional capacity as the major explanatory variable. This book can be read profitably by both specialists and laymen interested in the past, present and future of the world economy. Ron Findlay, Ragnar Nurske Professor of Economics Emeritus, Columbia University Filled with fresh thinking on the factors behind economic development, Popovs analysis cuts through old orthodoxies and offers a host of new insights. This is the best study yet of why the last two decades have been marked by stunning economic success in China, and frustrating failures in Russia. Blending attention to institutions and capital accumulation with analyses of the social order as shown in murder rates and income inequality, Popov demonstrates how promoting economic growth requires custom fitting of policies to a countrys stage of development, political institutions, and historical legacies. This book, in non-technical terms, points the way to a new and more productive approach to economic development. Jack A. Goldstone, Hazel Professor of Public Policy, George Mason University In a wide historical sweep, Vladimir Popov charts the rise of the West after the first Industrial Revolution, the apparently successful but ultimately failed development challenge launched by the Soviet model, and the current rise of China. He emphasizes the role of indigenous institutions in fostering economic growth and the failure of imported models. It is a powerful indictment of development economics as practiced during the last couple of decades. There are few economists better equipped that Popov to handle these large issues of rise and fall of economic powers. Branko Milanovic, author of The Haves and the Have-Nots: A Brief and Idiosyncratic History of Global Inequality, Basic Books A big, bold book that provides a unified framework for explaining why some countries and regions get ahead economically while others fall behind. Popov shows how inequality, institutions, saving rates all matter but sometimes in surprising and unexpected ways. Dani Rodrik, Institute for Advanced Study Challenging conventional wisdom, Vladimir Popov offers a rare perspective on the economic development challenges of our times by bringing together his profound understanding of economic history, development theory, and post-communist transition.