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

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Overview


About the Author:
Paul Collier is Professor of Economics and Director of the Center for the Study of African Economies at Oxford University, and former director of Development Research at the World Bank

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Editorial Reviews

Niall Ferguson
Although it stands on a foundation of painstaking quantitative research, The Bottom Billion is an elegant edifice: admirably succinct and pithily written. Few economists today can match Collier when it comes to one-liners. “A flagrant grievance is to a rebel movement what an image is to a business.” Calling the present trade negotiations a “development round” is like calling “tomorrow’s trading on eBay a ‘development round.’ ” And “If Iraq is allowed to become another Somalia, with the cry ‘Never intervene,’ the consequences will be as bad as Rwanda.” … As Collier rightly says, it is time to dispense with the false dichotomies that bedevil the current debate on Africa: “ ‘Globalization will fix it’ versus ‘They need more protection,’ ‘They need more money’ versus ‘Aid feeds corruption,’ ‘They need democracy’ versus ‘They’re locked in ethnic hatreds,’ ‘Go back to empire’ versus ‘Respect their sovereignty,’ ‘Support their armed struggles’ versus ‘Prop up our allies.’ ” 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.
— The New York Times Sunday Book Review
The New York Times
The best book on international affairs so far this year.
—Nicholas D. Kristof
From the Publisher

"An important book."--Fareed Zakaria

"Insightful and influential."--Newsweek

"An acclaimed bestseller in 2007, and already a set text in development courses worldwide, Paul Collier's The Bottom Billion has far from exhausted its potential to change the way we think about, teach about, and legislate about global poverty...Its policy recommendations, many of which focus on empowering domestic actors, including through voluntary international standards to serve as rallying cries for reform movements, are not only pragmatic but also addressed squarely to the audience that matters most: the G8. It does not hurt its crossover appeal that The Bottom Billon is a model of good writing for the public understanding of social science."--Ethics & International Affairs (publication of the Carnegie Council)

"Excellent...his key recommendations are right on the mark, and his message should resonate in the development discourse for years to come...Highly recommended."--CHOICE

"This is a path-breaking work providing penetrating insights into the largely unexplored borderland between economics and politics."--George Soros

"One of the most important books on world poverty in a very long time."--Richard John Neuhaus, founder of First Things Magazine

"Provides a penetrating reassessment of why vast populations remain trapped in poverty, despite endless debate over foreign aid policy among wealthy countries and institutions."--Barbara McDougall, Jury Chair, The Lionel Gelber Prize, and Canada's Former Secretary of State for External Affairs

"Workable development ideas are hard to find, but Professor Collier may have identified the next frontier for positive change."--Tyler Cowen, The New York Times

"This slip of a book is set to become a classic of the 'how to help the world's poorest' genre. Crammed with statistical nuggets and common sense, 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 where the 'bottom billion' of the world's population of 6.6 billion seem irredeemably stuck."--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. As Collier rightly says, 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

"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

"Terrifically readable."
--Time.com

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195311457
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 5/25/2007
  • Edition description: Older Edition
  • Pages: 224
  • Sales rank: 959,948
  • Product dimensions: 9.30 (w) x 6.30 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet 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.

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Table of Contents


Preface     ix
What's the Issue?
Falling Behind and Falling Apart: The Bottom Billion     3
The Traps
The Conflict Trap     17
The Natural Resource Trap     38
Landlocked with Bad Neighbors     53
Bad Governance in a Small Country     64
An Interlude: Globalization to the Rescue?
On Missing the Boat: The Marginalization of the Bottom Billion in the World Economy     79
The Instruments
Aid to the Rescue?     99
Military Intervention     124
Laws and Charters     135
Trade Policy for Reversing Marginalization     157
The Struggle for the Bottom Billion
An Agenda for Action     175
Postscript     193
Research on Which This Book Is Based     197
Index     201
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 16 )
Rating Distribution

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Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 16 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 15, 2009

    not great

    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.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 7, 2008

    Bottom Billion Review for English Class

    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.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 29, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    The Bottom Line on World Poverty

    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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