Paul Collier’s The Bottom Billion examines the failure of the 50 countries at the bottom of the global pyramid. Collier provides his analysis for why these countries remain at the bottom using four poverty traps: civil war, being landlocked by bad neighbours, natural resources, and bad governance in small countries.
His remedy includes using limited aid, military intervention, global cooperation (interested in how this connects to intervention), and trade policy to make global markets more inclusive. Collier believes advancing the development of these countries is not only the compassionate thing to do, it is for the sake of global security. Ultimately, as he writes, “change in the societies at the very bottom must come predominantly from within; we cannot impose it on them.”
Collier is a former World Bank employee and currently an economics professor at the University of Oxford. The Bottom Billion broadens his research for a wide audience. He even asserts his hope that this is a book we can read on the beach (I hope it is too).
It is worth noting that since the publication of this book, new research has found that 72% of the world’s poor now live in middle income countries.
Discussion questions to follow. See if this book is at a library near you.