Getting Collier’s Bottom Billion to the Top

Apr 02, 2008

The latest issue of the Institute of Development Studies’ publication, In Focus, explores the strengths and weaknesses of the policies advocated in Paul Collier’s book ‘The Bottom Billion’.

The 13 four-page policy briefs discuss the key issues raised by Collier, including aid, trade, military intervention and international conventions. Read them here.The briefs were written by a group of development experts, with financial support from DFID.

They welcome how Collier has advanced the debate, but also highlight his reliance on cross-country regressions, and significant omissions, including climate change and poverty in China and India.

Mick Moore (IDS) argues, for example, that Collier doesn’t explain why governance in poor
countries is likely to be corroded and corrupted through interactions with the international system. Or why these countries need protection through international laws and charters  when rich countries developed successfully in a much less regulated international  environment.

James Fairhead (University of Sussex) argues that Collier neglects the negative interaction between natural resources and national debt in poor countries, and the role of local politics.

If you haven’t read the book, have a look at the IBP’s summary & review here. Or have a look at Collier’s homepage.

If you aren’t up to more reading, watch two Collier clips on Youtube by clicking here and here.

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