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Oxford University Press, USA
The Bottom Billion: Why the Poorest Countries are Failing and What Can Be Done About It

The Bottom Billion: Why the Poorest Countries are Failing and What Can Be Done About It

by Paul Collier
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In the universally acclaimed and award-winning The Bottom Billion, Paul Collier reveals that fifty failed states--home to the poorest one billion people on Earth--pose the central challenge of the developing world in the twenty-first century. The book shines much-needed light on this group of small nations, largely unnoticed by the industrialized West, that are dropping further and further behind the majority of the world's people, often falling into an absolute decline in living standards. A struggle rages within each of these nations between reformers and corrupt leaders--and the corrupt are winning. Collier analyzes the causes of failure, pointing to a set of traps that ensnare these countries, including civil war, a dependence on the extraction and export of natural resources, and bad governance. Standard solutions do not work, he writes; aid is often ineffective, and globalization can actually make matters worse, driving development to more stable nations. What the bottom billion need, Collier argues, is a bold new plan supported by the Group of Eight industrialized nations. If failed states are ever to be helped, the G8 will have to adopt preferential trade policies, new laws against corruption, new international charters, and even conduct carefully calibrated military interventions. Collier has spent a lifetime working to end global poverty. In The Bottom Billion, he offers real hope for solving one of the great humanitarian crises facing the world today.

"Set to become a classic. Crammed with statistical nuggets and common sense, his book should be compulsory reading."
--The Economist

"If Sachs seems too saintly and Easterly too cynical, then Collier is the authentic old Africa hand: he knows the terrain and has a keen ear.... 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

"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."
--Financial Times

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780195373387
Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
Publication date: 08/22/2008
Pages: 224
Sales rank: 150,416
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.10(h) x 0.60(d)

About the Author

Paul Collier is Professor of Economics and Director of the Center for the Study of African Economies at Oxford University. Former director of Development Research at the World Bank, he is one of the world's leading experts on African economies, and is the author of Breaking the Conflict Trap, among other books.

Table of Contents

Part I: What's the Issue?
A Personal Preface
1. Falling Behind and Falling Apart: The Bottom Billion
Part II: The Traps
2. The Conflict Trap
3. The Natural Resource Trap
4. Landlocked with Bad Neighbors
5. Bad Governance in a Small Country
Part III: An Interlude: Globalization to the Rescue
6. On Missing the Boat: The Marginalization of the Bottom Billion in the World Economy
Part IV: The Instruments
7. Aid to the Rescue?
8. Military Intervention
9. Laws and Charters
10. Trade
Part V: The Struggle for the Bottom Billion
11. An Agenda for Action
Research on Which This Book Is Based

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Bottom Billion: Why the Poorest Countries Are Failing and What Can Be Done about It 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 21 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The author basically only cites his own work. One could call this a research in the vacuum... It is very idealistic and lacks references to prove most of the assertions made. The ideals of development promotion are extremely relevant, but the book lacks persuasiveness through scientific proof.
LaurenWalsh More than 1 year ago
The book The Bottom Billion is written by Paul Collier and presents his ideas about how to solve the problems associated with the poorest of the poor, the poorest billion people on earth.The book outlines the four major issues or ¿traps¿ that virtually all of the bottom billion have in common and hypothesizes that there are tangible solutions to reduce the plight of this group of people. He acknowledges that there is no cookie cutter answer that will solve all of the problems because no two countries that make up the poorest of the poor are alike. Haiti in the Western Hemisphere, Laos in Southeast Asia and Afghanistan in Central Asia point to the variety of places and people that comprise the bottom billion. The complexities of solving such a problem cannot be limited to a single book or the ideas of a single person. Therefore, I do not fully support all of his ideas but do consider them to serve as a very real framework for discussions that may lead to tangible change in some of the most needy parts of the world.
nivramkoorb on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is an important book and people should be aware that global prosperity may never get to a portion of the world due to major systemic issues. However, the problems and solutions raised in this book were pretty basic. Corruption, civil wars(what a surprise). Of course if you give aid to corrupt governments not much will happen. Unless the developed world chooses to intervene in these countries, I really don't see how this problem can be addressed
ben_a on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I have decayed into a skimming/sampling mode at the moment, but overall I have found Collier impressive. I never know quite what to make about arguments sustained by regression models across multiple societies over a limited (50 year) period -- can we trust these correlations, or are they artifacts of a specific set of circumstances? Can culture really be so neatly excised from the account? This is a quibble, however, with an excellent and thoughtful book. Anyone who wants to understand the disaster in which a fifth of the world finds itself should read it.
m_cyclops on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Paul Collier moves away from ideologies to bluntly explain why 1/6 of the Earth's population is stuck in extreme, lacerating poverty. His solution is not romantic socialism or heartless capitalism, but a set of tools that go beyond political labels and moves forward to propose a world agenda to help the people before it is too late.
drneutron on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I had high hopes for The Bottom Billion. It seemed like it would be an interesting discussion of what to do about poverty in the worst economies on the planet. In fact, I think Collier has some good things to say about the subject. Unfortunately, he didn't do such a good job of saying them here. My biggest complaint about the book is that it presents ideas without a shred of work to discuss the ideas. What's sad is that he did the work to back up his ideas, and he tells the reader frequently that he did the work. But the nature of a book like this requires the author do more than just tell us about his results. It should let the reader evaluate whether we believe the arguments, and that just isn't possible here. In fact, he didn't include footnotes or endnotes to reference specific works in favor of a bibliography at the end with relatively few detailsto point to a specific paper for a specific issue. The average reader will not have the resources to track down all the papers discussed.The book could have been really good. It's only 192 pages long, and Collier could easily have doubled the length and put in details of the work behind his discussion. Instead, it just felt like he wanted to throw off a quick book without too much work. If he was concerned about getting bogged down in details, he could easily have used a two-track system where the first half of each chapter is the published material and the second half of each chapter is the detail. Then readers not so interested in the details could just skip over the second track material.
Seghetto More than 1 year ago
Not quite as curmudgeonly as William Easterly. Not quite as idealistic as Jeffrey Sachs. This book is based on a lot of research by the author. He makes some prescriptions for curing what ails developing nations. A nice educating read.
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Tunguz More than 1 year ago
This is one the best policy books that I have read and an example of what a good policy book should be all about. It deals with the subject that is often in public spotlight and yet it seems as intractable today as it was decades ago. This sad state of affairs may in at least part be attributed to some of the misunderstanding of what global poverty is all about, who is most affected by it, and what sort of traps those most affected find themselves incapable of escaping. As this book clearly argues, the so called "poverty trap" in and of itself is not a trap at all, since otherwise all World would still be as poor as a few centuries ago. Furthermore, vast segments of the "global poor" actually live in countries that are developing at a more or less steady pace and can expect to be lifted out of that poverty within a generation or two. The ones who seem stuck are the bottom billion of the world population, and this book deals with them. The research that this book is based on comes up with four basic traps that could permanently hinder the poorest countries in development. The traps, some of them counterintuitive, are: 1. The Conflict Trap 2. The Natural Resource Trap 3. Landlocked with Bad Neighbors 4. Bad Governance in a Small Country Not every one of the poorest countries in the world is subject to all of these traps, but they are subject to at least one of them. Furthermore, Collier is not content to just describe the problem; he offers several courses of action that can deal with them. At least one of them, military interventions, has been largely discredited lately in the eyes of the public and policy wonks alike. However, if we are sincere and serious about helping the poorest in this world, we need to keep the military option open. All in all, this is a wonderful book that is both data-driven and engaging. Even if you have not followed the issues surrounding global poverty in the past, this book may induce you to get engaged in thinking about it more actively and seriously.
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