Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Collier on the role of economic growth

"Growth is not a cure-all, but the lack of growth is a kill-all."
-- "The Bottom Billion" by Paul Collier, p. 190
"The challenge of developing the bottom billion [...] requires a change of attitude on the part of Western electorates, both left and right. 
The left needs to move on from the West's self-flagellation and idealized notions of developing countries. Poverty is not romantic. The countries of the bottom billion are not there to pioneer experiments in socialism. 
At present the clarion call for the left is Jeffrey Sach's book The End of Poverty. Much as I agree with Sachs' passionate call to action, I think that he has overplayed the importance of aid. Aid alone will not solve the problems of the bottom billion - we need to use a wider range of policies. 
The right needs to move on from the notion of aid as part of the problem - as welfare payments to scroungers and crooks. It has to disabuse itself of the belief that growth is something that is always there for the taking, if only societies would get themselves together. [...] Not even the U.S. government is big enough to fix these problems by itself, these public solutions will usually have to be cooperative. 
At present the clarion call for the right is economist William Easterly's book The White Man's Burden. Easterly is right to mock the delusions of the aid lobby. But just as Sachs exaggerates the payoff to aid, Easterly exaggerates the downside and again neglects the scope for other policies. We are not as impotent and ignorant as Easterly seems to think.
-- "The Bottom Billion" by Paul Collier, p. 191

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