The Bottom Billion: Why the Poorest Countries Are Failing and What Can Be Done About It (Grove Art) (英語) ハードカバー – 2007/5/25
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Global poverty is falling rapidly, but in around fifty failing states, the world's poorest people face a tragedy that is growing inexorably worse. This bottom billion live on less than a dollar a day and while the rest of the world moves steadily forward, this forgotten billion is left further and further behind with potentially serious consequences not only for them but for the stability of the rest of the world. Why do the states these people live in defy all the attempts of the international aid community to help them? Why does nothing seem to make a difference? In The Bottom Billion, Paul Collier pinpoints the issues of corruption, political instability and resource management that lie at the root of the problem. He describes the battle raging in these countries between corrupt leaders and would-be reformers and the factors such as civil war, dependence on the export of natural resources and lack of good governance that trap them into a downward spiral of economic and social decline. Collier addresses the fact that conventional aid has been unable to tackle these problems and puts forward a radical new plan of action including a new agenda for the G8 which includes more effective anti-corruption measures, preferential trade policies and where necessary direct military intervention. All of these initiatives are carefully designed to help the forgotten bottom billion, one of the key challenges facing the world in the twenty first century.
A must-read for anyone who has tired of the emotionalism of the Geldof-Bono aid brigade. (Michela Wrong, New Statesman Books of the Year)
An important book. (Max Hastings, The Guardian)
Important and provocative. (Sunday Times)
Important new book... compelling. (New Statesman d)
Set to become a classic... his book should be compulsory reading for anyone embroiled in the hitherto thankless business of trying to pull people out of the pit of poverty. (The Economist)
Collier's is a better book than either Sachs's or Easterley's for two reasons. First, its analysis of the causes of poverty is more convincing. Second, its remedies are more plausible. (Niall Ferguson, International Herald Tribune)
This extraordinarily important book should be read by everyone who cares about Africa, but who recoils from the egotism and self-indulgence of Comic Relief and Live Aid. (Max Hastings, Sunday Times Review)
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)
Powerful...This important book wants citizens of G8 countries to fight for change. (Heather Stewart, Economics Editor, The Observer)
This is an arresting, provocative book. 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)
A splendid book... 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. (Martin Wolf, Financial Times)
[a] significant contribution... a good and helpful book. Collier uses his basic insight to challenge the conventional wisdom of both Left and Right. (Edward Hadas, TLS)
A path-breaking work providing penetrating insights into the largely unexplored borderland between economics and politics. (George Soros)
Paul Collier brilliantly anatomises the true causes of Africa's post-colonial failure. (Niall Fergusson, Sunday Telegraph)
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, Head of the UK Government Economic Service)
A good and helpful book. Collier uses his basic insight - that the poor are in a very different situation from the rest of the world - to challenge the conventional wisdom of both the Left and the Right. (Edward Hadas, TLS)
A powerful book. (New Zealand Herald)
The first half of the book is dedicated to explaining the vicious cycles and patterns that keep the poorest countries in such bad circumstances. Collier outlines four major "traps" that tend to prohibit economic growth, including the Conflict Trap, the Natural Resources Trap, Being Landlocked, and Bad Government. The only one of these that at first seems counterintuitive is the Natural Resources Trap, but Collier explains that when protections are not in place, or irresponsible governments are in power, gluts of money from natural resources often lead to wasteful spending (or worse), and a boom and bust cycle dependent on commodities that generates instability. After becoming accustomed to large amounts of money and spending it on unnecessary projects that later become difficult to cut, the typical outcome is underinvestment in growth. The other traps are fairly straightforward and often inter-related.
While discussing the traps that keep the bottom billion down, a number of surprising conclusions were made. One involves the problem of too much aid without focus. Just giving poor countries money does not solve the problems that keep poor countries poor. At its worse, aid can become a sort of global welfare program that doesn't encourage productive, growth-oriented change. Also, democracies are not always effective at promoting positive change. Especially in countries with strong ethnic voting blocks, democracy often leads to suppression of one group as well as vote-buying by politicians. Without strong limitations on government and strong individual protections in place, democracies can actually be less effective at bringing the poorest countries out of stagnation than more authoritarian governments. Indeed, there are a myriad of factors that make it difficult to break out of the bottom billion, even with good policy. Some of these problems seem unavoidable. Investor opinion, capital flow out of poor countries, and the migration of educated workers all hamper the development of poor countries, and are all problems without easy (or maybe existing) solutions.
Collier also attempts to make a case for helping the bottom billion for our own sakes, and not just out of pity for the desperate. His intentions were to not only show the dangers of ignoring the problem (poor, desperate people may turn to violence and terrorism), but to show the benefits of incorporating more people into a common world economy. Actually putting an economic price tag on helping the bottom billion, and even stating that it may not be economically worthwhile in some cases, may seem callous at first, but it meshes with the overall tone of the book, taking an unemotional and logical look at the situation.
Besides highlighting and explaining the problems and why they are so stubborn, Collier outlines his recommendations for starting to help bring the bottom billion out of the darkness. His solutions are wide-ranging, and include increased, but targeted, aid, as well as possible military interventions to enforce security. Perhaps the biggest focus of the book revolves around creating and abiding by strong international charters. Setting guidelines for economic policy and trade practices would encourage poor countries to establish growth-oriented plans with the lure of increased partnerships with rich countries. Because real change for countries of the bottom billion must happen internally, providing incentives for good management may be our most powerful tool for helping to poorest in the world. If we can help the poorest countries focus on positive change, real long-term benefits will follow.
The biggest criticism I have for THE BOTTOM BILLION is the over-reliance on Collier's own research. Literally, he cites no studies that he or his collaborators did not conduct. At times, the book seems a bit self-aggrandizing, especially as Collier discusses his personal experiences rubbing shoulders with world leaders and reformers. While full of good and seemingly-accurate information, the book could have been improved by being more inclusive of other research and other opinions. Lastly, parts of the book read much like a scientific journal on economics, and can be a bit dry. Just be prepared for that, and I think you'll find the book meets or exceeds your expectations.