The "bottom billion"

Despite the efforts of a great many people and the expenditure of even more money, why do some nations remain mired in poverty?

Ethan Zuckerman reviews a book by Oxford University Economics Professor Paul Collier, "The Bottom Billion: Why the Poorest Countries are Failing and What Can Be Done About It," that seeks to provide some answers. And as he explains, Collier has sought to make the answers understandable to non-economists.

This section of Ethan's review certainly did little to dampen my interest:

  While Collier’s work is significantly more nuanced than most popular books on development economics, he’s not exactly shy or soft-spoken. He’s particularly contemptuous of ideological dreamers, with a special disregard for Marxists. (In describing China’s recent economic success, he notes, “Mao made his own invaluable contribution by dropping dead.”) But he’s almost as critical of free marketeers who believe that markets will solve all development problems, especially in the poorest countries of the world.


Collier is optimistic about the future for most of the world’s people....

The problem is a set of nations that aren’t developing.

Collier is a former World Bank official and directs the Center for the Study of African Economics at Oxford.

Video of a Collier lecture on the issues is here.