Discussion Questions for The Bottom Billion

Discussion Questions, The Bottom Billion


1. What themes continue to show up in the work of Sachs, Easterly, and Collier related to why certain areas remain undeveloped?

2. Below are the causes of underdevelopment according to Sachs (left) and Collier (right). How are these categorizations useful (or not) in creating solutions?

  • The poverty trap                                                       Civil war
  • Geography                                                                   Bad neighbors
  • The fiscal trap                                                             Natural resources
  • Government failures                                                Bad governance
  • Cultural barriers
  • Geopolitics
  • Lack of innovation
  • The demographic

3. Like Sachs, does Collier downplay the role of imperialism as a cause of civil war?

4. Collier aims to write an agenda for the G8. Do you think the G8 is the best forum to address these poverty traps?

5. According to Collier, why is support from the West imperative to the bottom billion’s development? Do you agree?

6. Rate this book from 1 (how did this get published?) to 5 (highly recommend).


One thought on “Discussion Questions for The Bottom Billion

  1. The following comment is from development consultant Stefan Siewert:

    It is a useful and exciting book. Paul Collier raises the issues: the existence of traps. His main thesis, the existence of a general trap for the Bottom billion, has not been confirmed. Nations are too diverse and the reasons for underdevelopment differ significantly for such a general conclusion. Nevertheless, we need solutions, and new thinking, and new approaches.

    Economic development, globalisation has winners and losers. Loser might expect to be compensated by the general increase in wealth. This mechanism works relatively well in developed welfare countries, it is in its very, very infancy in the global world. Only one fact: the amount of absolute poor (the one billion) is higher than the global population on eve of industrialisation 250 years ago, around 750 million. And to make the situation more complex: absolute poverty in the 21st century might include a smartphone with access to information and knowledge, unthinkable for rich western senior decision makers some years ago.

    Until now – in international institution still up to now – the neoliberal Washington consensus dominated. Under this doctrine it was sometimes very unclear wether Aid helps the recipient or the donor. There are many well-documented cases, where Aid was instrumental for a agenda fully in favour of the powerful and rich.

    This way, Paul Colliers book is the right step in the right direction of a long, long way. There are traps and nations to fall sometimes in them and there is no way out than massive – and smart – assistance from the outside word.



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