The Bottom Billion

Paul Collier, with whom I enjoyed lunch on Friday, has a new book out titled The Bottom Billion. He says that the great Sachs vs. Easterly clash has overinflated the importance of foreign aid in the discussion of how to improve the lives of the billion people living in countries that, without massive changes, will not eliminate poverty through growth in the next few decades.

Drawing upon the US experience in helping rebuild Europe after World War II, Collier identifies four relevant mechanisms: (1) foreign assistance, (2) trade, (3) security guarantees, and (4) governance. His policy suggestions are original, interesting, and likely to spur debate. He recommends trade preferences for Africa (pdf) to give them an advantage against Asian developing countries benefiting from agglomeration effects. Perhaps most provocatively, Collier suggests that the West offer external security guarantees to some troubled states — he’d prefer that you think of the British in Sierra Leone rather than the United States in Iraq.

Check out this short article (pdf) for an introduction to the book’s ideas.

1 thought on “The Bottom Billion

  1. Michael Robinson

    External Security will only work if it is effected through strong democratic African countries.i.e South Africa. Therefore the West’s input (financial and training) can only succeed through cooperation with South Africa.

    May I suggest Free Trade Economic Zones are set up in all poorer African Countries, ideally at common borders with the zone overlapping two or three countries. The zones might be 30 square miles. The zones will have an externally imposed African devised constitution and police force and governance and would be guaranteed by military security provided by an African led task force.

    These zones could then become the catalyst of African development. They would have special international trade treaties. The zones would be progressively expanded as economic success with growth of 7% per annum brings in migrants.

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