Book Review: The Ages of Globalization by Jeffrey Sachs

Jeffrey Sachs, in The Ages of Globalization: Geography, Technology, and Institutions, presents an exciting scenario that portrays events taking place worldwide differently from the perspectives held by individuals. Jeffrey Sachs is a seasoned American economist and a former director at The Earth Institute at Columbia University. He has written many scholarly publications that have been used to offer guidance on the best practices that should be used when implementing sustainable development, economic growth policies, and poverty mitigation solutions. Sachs has been on the front line championing sustainable economic growth that addresses various issues affecting global growth and development. Sachs’ book presents an opportunity for individuals to review their role in improving different situations in their surroundings and how other stakeholders can develop best practices that enhance growth. By embracing both institutional and technological change, Sachs believes that the world can accomplish its desired goals and objectives that promote the quality of life adopted by individuals. Therefore, embracing rising technologies and integrating them in the workplace exposes corporations to various opportunities that can be used to accomplish different outcomes worldwide.

Summary of the Content

Sachs indicates that even though globalization is being heavily promoted today, human beings have always been a globalized lot since they originated from Africa. The ability of individuals to spread and occupy different parts of the world was influenced by the globalized nature of individuals and their ability to work with allies who believe and offer support towards the realization of their vision. However, the concept of globalization has evolved over the years, exposing individuals to a series of problems that hinder their interactions with other people. For instance, the world might not survive if a third world war breaks because of the security measures adopted by different countries such as China, the U.S., and Russia.

Sachs takes the reader back to the paleothilic, neolithic, and equestrian ages, among other historical periods where he talks about different lifeways that individuals embrace. By tracking the different phases until the industrial age, Sachs offers individuals an opportunity to reflect on the changes that have taken place throughout global history and their ability to influence future outcomes. For example, Sachs indicates that the industrial age set substantial precedence for the digital age because of the measures put in place to support technologies such as the internet. Hence, understanding the different effects of the periodic ages enables individuals to make informed decisions regarding the best approaches that should be used to implement globalization in the world today.

Analysis and Evaluation of the Book

In this book, Sachs demonstrates how the human population has adjusted to the recent wave of globalization. By tracing the different aspects of globalization since the origin of humanity, Sachs enables his reader to understand how the critical process affects human life. Each of the seven historical ages represents a unique phase of enlightenment, where individuals embraced various changes that reflected their growth and development. For instance, in the Paleolithic era, which can be traced between 70,000 to 10,000 BCE, human history was formed as individuals moved from one place to another, searching for suitable conditions and environment. Globalization is heavily linked to this period because of the ability of individuals to move around and explore new places that could accommodate their interests. In the same vein, people could form relationships and identify allies who shared similar interests that facilitated cultural beliefs and values. Technologies such as writing and record-keeping were discovered during this historical age.

During the Equestrian age, which was the third historical period, the horse played a significant role in establishing a unique culture that contributed to the economic growth and development of dynasties. Without a horse, it became impossible to move around because other population groups relied heavily on the animal for a faster communication experience and resolution of issues affecting their quality of life. Sachs’ ability to identify this aspect and link it to economic growth through globalization is an eye-opening perspective that promotes the reader’s understanding of the topical issue. Unlike other animals, Sachs indicates that the horse stood out as robust, resilient, and intelligent, enabling individuals to overcome challenges when executing their different activities in their surroundings. Later in the Classical Age, Sachs manifests a robust political foundation that saw global politics. He demonstrates how the Chinese empires distributed their ideas to the people with the hope of aligning them with their vision, a practice that is used today to win elections in modern-day democracy.

Capitalism features prominently in the Ocean Age, where individual families used their influence to dominate societal outcomes. Regardless of the public’s measures, capitalism created a massive distinction between the rich and the poor, while profit-based corporations used the military to secure their interests worldwide. However, the Industrial Age is believed to have brought the much-needed transformation, which set the Digital Age stage that is witnessed today (Sachs). In the Industrial Age, individuals changed their approaches towards work, social interactions, and political discourses, creating a revolution that disrupted normalcy worldwide. Sachs highlights the different methods that were used by the people at the time to improve efficiency through the elimination of hindrances that interfered with productivity. In the same vein, the period saw people lean towards adopting machines to make work easier and improve the quality of the work environment to maximize profitability by enhancing employee satisfaction.

Sachs’ ability to identify the different aspects of change in all the seven historic periods equips him with the much-needed knowledge to inform the present world about the best practices that should be adopted to accomplish sustainable development in the age of globalization. His crisp understanding of the issues that influence interactions between individuals and the approaches that people should use to overcome challenges in their surroundings plays a vital role in developing viable solutions that improve the outcomes of their immediate environment. Likewise, Sachs understands the role of globalization in achieving economic growth and development because of creating an enabling environment that promotes trading between two or more countries who share similar interests. For instance, Canada, Mexico, and the U.S. have a trade agreement under NAFTA that highlights the approaches that should be used across industries to allow the governments to benefit from eliminating hindrances that affect trade practices. For this reason, Sachs’ book is an eye-opener that exposes individuals to an environment where they can make informed decisions and overcome issues that interfere with their focus towards growth and development.

Many scholars have criticized globalization because of its effects on emerging economies triggered by the trading aspects initiated by the established countries. For instance, developed nations dump low-quality products in developing countries while setting high export standards from emerging economies. The disparity favors developed countries that achieve their desired objectives at the expense of emerging economies, who struggle to meet the expected trading standards. Regardless of the efforts by the emerging countries to set the much-needed standards when interacting with the developed countries, it becomes impossible for the governments to bargain with their peers because of their low Gross Domestic Product that limits their bargaining power. Even though globalization exposes developing countries to trading opportunities in the international market, Sachs indicates that the focus towards globalization should be influenced by the need to created sustainable economic growth that can last across generations.


Embracing rising technologies and integrating them in the workplace exposes corporations to various opportunities that can be used to accomplish different outcomes worldwide. Sachs’ book serves as an eye-opener that introduces individuals to the history of globalization by tracking the seven periods of existence that other population groups have introduced key proponents of change whose influence can be felt today. Even though the Industrial Age was the epitome of all historical ages, the previous periods played a role in preparing individuals for the much-needed economic shift that set the stage for the Digital Age. It would have been impossible to enjoy the technological advancements being witnessed today if the revolution had not taken place during the Industrial Age. From this realization, Sachs’ arguments in his book expose individuals to an environment where they can acknowledge the importance of sustainable globalization practices that should be adopted during the interactions of different countries in the geopolitical context.



Works Cited

Sachs, Jeffrey D. The Ages of Globalization: Geography, Technology, and Institutions. Columbia University Press, 2020.

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