What to Think About While Reading The Bright Continent

Discussion Questions, The Bright Continent


1. In an age where data collection and analysis are increasingly relied on, how can these informal entrepreneurial systems be measured? Do they need to be?

2. Why aren’t these stories told more often? How can we get access to them?

3. Though this book is about Africa, “kanju” is a common occurrence worldwide. What examples of hustling for survival are common where you live?

4. How do the informal networks Olopade describes complement the focus on government or aid intervention in books like Dead Aid and The End of Poverty?

Add your thoughts and questions below!


What to Think About While Reading Capital in the Twenty-First Century

Capital in the 21st Century, Discussion Questions

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1. What was your reaction to the book?

2. What is the significance of inherited wealth?

3. What policy options for reducing wealth inequality are recommended by Piketty?

4. Why would there be no discussion of race or gender in a book that centers on inequality? Hasn’t discrimination contributed greatly to the wealth gap?

5. If those who already have the majority of capital continue to grow returns on it, what does that mean for people in developing communities who are trying to catch up?

6. Economists all have different conclusions (and statistics) about why or how the government should be involved. How would you decide how much government regulation will be effective in reducing inequality?

Add your questions and comments below!

Dead Aid Discussion Questions

Dead Aid, Discussion Questions

1. According to Moyo, why do different approaches to aid fail?

2. What are some reasons we continue to use aid though there is evidence it is not effective?

3. Are free markets a fair playing field and not another instrument of the West?

4. Are African countries hurting each other’s economic growth?

5. What are the benefits of a market approach to development?

Add your questions below.

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).

Discussion Questions for The End of Poverty

Discussion Questions, The End of Poverty


Here are the questions (so far) for this month’s book The End of Poverty. Add your own questions and comments below. If you’re feeling shy or don’t have anything specific to add you can also “like” replies.

1. For those, like me, who have heard about this book but are reading it for the first time: did your pre-conceived opinion of the book change as you read it?

  1. What is your biggest takeaway from The End of Poverty that will help you in your global development career?

3. What resonated most with you in a positive or negative way?

4. Sachs uses a lot of personal anecdotes in mix with statistics. Is his evidence convincing?

5. He writes that the 8 barriers to economic growth are:

  • The poverty trap
  • Geography
  • The fiscal trap
  • Government failures
  • Cultural barriers
  • Geopolitics
  • Lack of innovation
  • The demographic

Is there anything you would take away or add to this list? He spends a lot of time discussing geography and technology; do you think they are as pertinent to development as he writes?

6. Sachs uses the first half of the book to explore why some countries are poor and others are not. While he went into great detail, I feel he missed the effect colonialism had on “poor” countries. He dismisses colonialism as a major deterrent to economic growth but in Chapter 3 he briefly mentions European treatment of the indigenous population in South America as a roadblock to economic success. Does anyone else think he doesn’t give enough “credit” to colonialism for current poverty?

  1. Were there any other confusing or contradictory aspects of the book?

8. Do you agree Asia has developed more than Africa because of its increasing food production per capita?

9. How have Sachs’s definitions and responses to poverty influenced policy in developing countries? And what have the outcomes been so far? Perhaps those of you who have read The Idealist or other updates can chime in.

10. The aid-debate: Sachs receives a lot of criticism for his aid-dependent approach to ending poverty. What are other ways to support development?

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


You can reply to these questions below. I’m sure more questions will come up as we continue to read. Happy Reading! See if the book is at your local library.

Book Discussion Format

Book Discussion Format, Discussion Questions, Getting Started, The End of Poverty, Uncategorized

The purpose of discussion is to point out what each book has to offer the field of development or what we don’t find effective. Try to explain why you agree or disagree with something rather than using “I agree,” “+1,” or the dreaded (imo) “This.”

I cannot integrate a forum so we will use the comment section to facilitate discussion. Questions will be posted and your answers, additional questions, and comments can be added at the bottom of each post.

As always, be kind.

None of this:

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