Episode 10: Oxford

Paul Collier is Professor of Economics at Oxford University and Director of the Centre for the Study of African Economies.

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In The Bottom Billion, Paul Collier points out that poverty is falling quite rapidly for about eighty percent of the world.  He argues that the real crisis lies in a group of  58 failing states, home to the bottom billion, whose problems defy traditional approaches to alleviating poverty. He argues that these countries are the scene of a struggle between reformers and corrupt leaders.  Collier analyzes the causes of failure, pointing to a set of traps that snare these countries, including civil war, a dependence on the extraction and export of natural resources, and bad governance.   He argues that our standard solutions do not work against these traps: aid is often ineffective, and globalization can actually make matters worse, driving development to more stable nations.  The Bottom Billion, was the winner of the 2008 Lionel Gelber Prize for the world’s best book on international affairs, and the 2008 Gold Medal Winner of the Arthur Ross Book Award, given by the Council on Foreign Relations.

In his new book, Wars, Guns and Votes: Democracy in Dangerous Places, Paul Collier investigates the violence and poverty in the countries at the bottom of the world economy that are home to a billion people. He argues that pressures to introduce partial democratic reforms may have been counterproductive and that this may have increased the risk of political violence. He argues for 3 key policy measures that the rich world should implement to reverse the declining fortunes of these countries.

2 thoughts on “Episode 10: Oxford

  1. Not withstanding that I have yet to read Wars Guns and Votes, I wonder about the practcal dimensions of the policy measures proposed. If the rationale for ISA’s is that investing in government to improve governance doesnt work where it is most important….well how is this squared this with the deja vu of the 90’s where much aid was already being chanelled thro NGOs etc but gave rise to ideas for investing in governance and budget support etc etc.

    A “soft cap” on military expenditure I find befuddling. Is this a “tax” applied at source or point of use? The “benign hegemon” makes/ buys lots of weapons for “defence” to “increase stability” , but as we know, then uses them in “pre-emptive” actions which it argues are legitimate. So the legitmacy of how many weapons you have and how you use them is a fuzzy yardstick, and unlikely to be swallowed when it means loosing aid.

    How to cope with the looming brush of aid hypocrisy? What of a podcast about “witholding aid” rather than giving it….as a legitimate act of “retorsion” ?


  2. Pingback: Paul speaks on Development Drums about new book War, Guns and Votes | The Bottom Billion Blog

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