Additional Readings on The White Man’s Burden

Books, White Man's Burden

The following is a list of articles, conversations, and reviews about The White Man’s Burden. To discuss the book click here.

The Poverty Puzzle – NY Times Book Review

Thank you Kury for sharing this one. “Easterly is better at documenting the failures of planning than analyzing the successes of searching.” -V. Postrel

The Man Without a Plan

Critique of White Man’s Burden by Amartya Sen. Good points to keep in mind while reading.

Book Notes

Full summary of the book by David Mays.

A chat with Bill Gates’ least favorite aid expert, Bill Easterly

Short interview with Easterly about aid by Tom Paulson at the Humanosphere.


What are some other resources?


The White Man’s Burden Discussion Questions

White Man's Burden

Comment below!

Here are the questions so far. Respond and add your own questions by leaving a comment below.

1. What is your biggest takeaway from The White Man’s Burden that will help you in your global development career?

2. Despite the evidence that aid does not raise growth, many organizations protest when domestic governments cut foreign aid (Oxfam comes to mind). Why is this?

3. There is a strong emphasis in this book on the scientific method. How can we make sure the results we rely on for policy and development programs are correct?

4. Among other things, Sachs and Easterly differ on their approach to giving social services. The End of Poverty suggests using money from donors to cover costs, while Easterly argues that charging for services makes development programs more efficient. What have you found works in your own experience and research?

5. Easterly suggests using a market approach to give beneficiaries of services a way to hold service providers accountable. If they don’t like the service, they can speak up or stop using it to send a message to the provider. Is there a way to give beneficiaries of aid a way to hold donors and NGO’s accountable?

6. From Fi at Women in Aid: Is it just a MAN’s burden? Are things different for women working in this sector?

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

The White Man’s Burden: Why the West’s Efforts to Aid the Rest Have Done So Much Ill and So Little Good

White Man's Burden

See if it's at your local library

Bill Easterly is an outspoken economist known for his criticism of aid and support of utilizing free markets to advance development. His most recent work, A Tyranny of Experts, criticizes the hampering of the poor’s freedom because of our over-reliance on experts in development. You can stay updated on his current thoughts at

During the month of August we will read The White Man’s Burden. It is a popular international development book and partly (maybe largely) a response to last month’s read, The End of Poverty. In Chapter 2, Easterly addresses the following tragedy in our quest to end poverty:

It is heartbreaking that global society has evolved a highly efficient way to get entertainment to rich adults and children, while it can’t get twelve-cent medicine to dying poor children. This book is about that second tragedy.

Easterly aims to dismantle Sachs’s theory on the effectiveness of Western aid and convince us that the Planners of the West cannot end poverty. Does he succeed? Looking forward to finding out.

Discussion Questions 


White Man's Burden

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Next month we start The White Man’s Burden: Why the West’s Efforts to Aid the Rest Have Done So Much Ill and So Little Good by William Easterly.

“From one of the world’s best-known development economists—an excoriating attack on the tragic hubris of the West’s efforts to improve the lot of the so-called developing world.”

William Easterly’s Website