- Hardcover: 224 pages
- Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (April 15 2007)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0195311450
- ISBN-13: 978-0195311457
- Product Dimensions: 23.6 x 2.5 x 16 cm
- Shipping Weight: 476 g
- Average Customer Review: 6 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #407,567 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
The Bottom Billion: Why the Poorest Countries are Failing and What Can Be Done About It Hardcover – Oct 15 2009
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"The best book on international affairs so far this year."--Nicholas D. Kristof, The New York Times
"If Sachs seems too saintly and Easterly too cynical, then Collier is the authentic old Africa hand: he knows the terrain and has a keen ear. As Collier rightly says, it is time to dispense with the false dichotomies that bedevil the current debate on Africa. If you've ever found yourself on
one side or the other of those arguments - and who hasn't? - then you simply must read this book."--Niall Ferguson, The New York Times Book Review
"Workable development ideas are hard to find, but Professor Collier may have identified the next frontier for positive change."--Tyler Cowen, The New York Times
"Rich in both analysis and recommendations...Read this book. You will learn much you do not know. It will also change the way you look at the tragedy of persistent poverty in a world of plenty."--Financial Times
"One of the most engaging and provocative books on development to appear in a long time. His analyses and proposals--delivered, by the way, in prose unusually good for an author who happens to be an economist--are sound and should be embraced by people who care and can do something about the
poorest of the world." --Ernesto Zedillo, former president of Mexico and director of the Yale Center for the Study of Globalization
"This is an arresting, provocative book, written by an expert in plain English. If you care about the fate of the poorest people in the world, and want to understand what can be done to help them, read it. If you don't care, read it anyway."--Tim Harford, Financial Times columnist and author
of The Undercover Economist
"Paul Collier's book is of great importance. He has shown clearly what is happening to the poorest billion in the world, why it is happening and what can be done to open up greater opportunities for them in a world of increasing wealth. His ideas should be at the centre of the policy
debate."-Sir Nicholas Stern, Professor at the London School of Economics, Former Chief Economist of the World Bank, and author of The Stern Report on Climate Change
"This is a path-breaking work providing penetrating insights into the largely unexplored borderland between economics and politics."--George Soros
"With compassion annealed by smarts; irony softened by warmth; and a commitment to penetrate to the core of things, Collier picks up the tools of economics and forthrightly applies them to the politics and economics of the developing world. Accessible and refreshing, this books provides a
blunt and no-nonsense look at a major issue of our times."--Robert H. Bates, Eaton Professor of the Science of Politics, Harvard University
"Professor Collier has a superb and provoking synthesis of the forces and circumstances trapping a billion people in desperate conditions and poverty. For those of us who feel called to serve in the world's most crushing situations, Paul's book is stark affirmation that being there matters.
And that it is time for the world community to act in coherent and different ways to bring essential change and hope for the generations to come."--David Young, Senior Vice President, Integrated Ministries and Strategy, World Vision International
About the Author
Paul Collier is Professor of Economics and Director of the Center for the Study of African Economies at Oxford University. Former director of Development Research at the World Bank and advisor to the British government's Commission on Africa, he is one of the world's leading experts on African
economies, and is the author of Breaking the Conflict Trap, among other books.
Top customer reviews
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How can a global economy that routinely produces new billionaires leave a billion people behind in countries where the economic prospects are bleak despite enormous spending aimed at turning things around? Obviously, the remedy isn't working. You could have figured that out for yourself without reading this book.
Professor Paul Collier takes us beyond that disquieting simplification to measure what some of the reasons are that contribute to the stalled economies in those countries (which are mostly located in sub-Saharan Africa and central Asia) where a billion people live.
The primary factors that he can isolate include frequent armed conflicts (coups, civil wars, and wars with other countries), producing high value natural resources that can be easily exported, having no access to the oceans while being surrounded by neighboring countries having a lot of problems, and poorly performing government in a small country. Armed conflicts not only take a lot of lives and do a lot of damage; armed conflicts drive people into new areas creating enormous dislocations and increased disease. Armed conflicts interrupt the ability to run a farm, a business, or to have a normal life. High value exports encourage those in government to seek payoffs from the exports while the exports drive up the value of the currency making local businesses less competitive with imports. If you are surrounded by bad neighbors, you cannot do much exporting or importing so your economy is stuck where it is. A poorly performing government simply siphons off funds into corruption.
If a poor country overcomes these problems, it has new issue: There may not be a local size sufficient to compete with other low-cost labor markets in global exports.
Give a country too much aid of the wrong kind, and you make things worse. Excess infrastructure aid (a current favorite among developed countries) leads to corruption and more spending on the military (which increases the risk of armed conflicts). Military intervention is only cost effective if those who are the peace keepers are serious and the spending is low (unlike Iraq). Laws and charters can provide guidelines that can make the subsequent actions more appropriate. Appropriate trade policies can also help open markets for those from the poorest countries.
The book concludes with a call to action to shift development spending from the middle four billion to the bottom billion while increasing reliance on influences other than sending money for aid.
I appreciated having the chance to read this book and recommend it to those who want to know what can be done to help the poorest people. I would have learned more if Professor Collier had shared more details of his research, rather than just citations of his academic works. I was particularly interested in how strong these statistical patterns are. I was also curious about the multivariate effect of these factors in the past.
I have a lot of admiration for the hard work that goes into assembling data to do this kind of work and to then find ways to draw conclusions from the data that make sense. Bravo to Professor Collier and his colleagues!
At the same time, I would encourage serious readers to also look at the problem from the ground up . . . what educated people who live in these countries can do to make things better for the most impoverished. I am highly encouraged by the work that some of my students have done in identifying how small educational and capital inputs can generate enormous numbers of successful entrepreneurs who need employees. Many of these nations lack an educational infrastructure that can produce the skilled labor and business leadership needed for rapid economic growth. It looks to me like working on providing such advanced educational opportunities could be a great way to attack these persistent problems, as well.
a) Collier writes without using economic jargon, and he relies as much as possible on hard data and as little as possible on ideology - real pluses in my view.
b) Once you've read Collier's book you may agree or disagree with his solutions, but you are guaranteed to know more about the issues, the arguments, and the pertinent data.
The pressure for the developed world to work toward real solutions to this crucial issue can only come from informed voters, so I would encourage any and all concerned readers to give this book a try.
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