Collier has spent an entire career studying the macroeconomics of the
developing world. He is the director of
the Center for the Study of African Economies at Oxford University and the
former Director of development research for the World Bank. So, when he offers
suggestions on how to break the cycle of poverty in the developing world, we
should all pause to listen.
exactly what Paul Collier has offered us in the book The Bottom Billion: Why the Poorest Countries are Failing and What Can
Be Done About It. Refreshingly frank
and at time counterintuitive, Collier outlines first the traps that keep the
poorest nations poor and how they can be sprung from those traps.
first offers a compelling rationale for why the developed world should help the
50 poorest nations. In addition to the
noble causes of alleviating human suffering and poverty, more self-serving
rationales such as resource and national security for the wealthy nations of
the world are cited. With a world
inspired to act, Collier suggests the G8 nations help developing nations avoid
the traps that keep them poor. These
traps include The Conflict Trap, The Natural Resource Trap, Landlocked with Bad
Neighbors, and Bad Governance in a Small Country.
are fueled by a combination of greed, corruption and unlucky geographic
positioning. The solutions offered are
not what one would expect. Many
economists suggest that globalization will help these poor countries, but
Collier disagrees. Globalization will do
nothing but make poor economies with natural resources to exploit more
dependent on extraction and export of those resources. Perhaps more international aid will
help? Wrong again. Collier shows though multiple data sets and
anecdotes how aid to nations such as Somalia and Chad have only made them less
viable as nations.
hope for the poorest billion people in the world, then, is the adoption of
trade practices that allow these nations to become self sufficient, the
adoption of international laws and charters that reward good governance and
punish corruption and at times, military intervention. The recipe is not complex in the explaining,
but requires a great amount of political will and the recognition by the G8
countries that helping the poorest billion people in the world escape poverty
will benefit us all. Paul Collier has
given us an instant classic of economic thought and a clear path forward in his
book The Bottom Billion: Why the Poorest
Countries are Failing and What Can Be Done About It.