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« Bedtime | Main | Mary on Classic Writing »

March 16, 2006

Foreign Aid

Michael Blowhard writes:

Dear Blowhards --

How much can the rich world really do to help the poor world? Former World Bank economist William Easterly has published a new book arguing that the answer is "not as much as many people hope." Excerpt:

The West cannot transform the Rest. It is a fantasy to think that the West can change complex societies with very different histories and cultures into some image of itself.

Here's Easterly in the WashPost setting forth his views. Excerpt:

Economic development in Africa will depend -- as it has elsewhere and throughout the history of the modern world -- on the success of private-sector entrepreneurs, social entrepreneurs and African political reformers. It will not depend on the activities of patronizing, bureaucratic, unaccountable and poorly informed outsiders.

Development everywhere is homegrown. As G-8 ministers and rock stars fussed about a few billion dollars here or there for African governments, the citizens of India and China (where foreign aid is a microscopic share of income) were busy increasing their own incomes by $715 billion in 2005.

Amartya Sen has some (long-winded, alas) quibbles.

Best,

Michael

posted by Michael at March 16, 2006




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