The Bottom Billion


This review by Niall Ferguson (combined with my knowledge of other work by Collier that I’ve read) spurred me to order Paul Collier’s new book, The Bottom Billion: Why the Poorest Countries Are Failing and What Can Be Done About It. The proposal for ten-year military occupations and administration sounds remarkably unappealing and even foolish, but Collier is a very smart fellow and I’m looking forward to his insights into the sources of dysfunctionality in poor nations.

I met Paul Collier, formerly research director of the Development Research Group at the World Bank and now professor of economics at Oxford University, at a conference in Athens in 2006, after which I got and read some of his articles on ethnic diversity and civil conflict, the effect of monopolizable resource rents on political and economic development, and other topics. If you’re interested in African issues (and issues of legal, political, and economic development generally), you should know Collier’s work.

4 Responses to “The Bottom Billion”

  1. The problem of the world’s poor is such a tired debate. Are the Amish poor because they shun Wal-Mart and high technology? The world’s poor clearly don’t feel poor because they keep having babies they ‘can’t afford’ and continue to inhabit parts of the world that simply are not favorable to human habitation.

  2. Sandeep

    Surely there is something to the fact that the Indian diaspora was for many decades rather wealthy everywhere but India; it seems that the policies of the Indian government were responsible, rather than the Indian culture. Moreover, places that once were poor are now wealthy, suggesting that location is not the most important cause of wealth. I rather doubt that high birth rates are the cause of poverty; it’s more likely that poverty is the cause of high birth rates. They decline after per capita income goes up, not before.

  3. Anonymous

    In my opinion, I think tribalism or communitarianism are the problems of poverty. If you study the migration to America, most of the migrants do so from an individual decision rather than a group consensus. Thus they were not restrained by loyalty to the tribal or community beliefs.

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