Sunday, December 09, 2007

Bottom Billion

The Bottom Billion has been picked by the Economist as one of the books of the year 2007.

The Economist's review of the book wrote:

Its author, Paul Collier, an Oxford economics professor, has spent 30-odd years puzzling mainly over sub-Saharan Africa and trying to work out why so many of its 48 countries have become basket cases. Crammed with statistical nuggets and common sense, his book should be compulsory reading for anyone embroiled in the hitherto thankless business of trying to pull people out of the pit of poverty where the “bottom billion” of the world's population of 6.6 billion seem irredeemably stuck.

Here is another positive review from Martin Wolf at FT.

Just when you plan to rush out and buy the book, first read what another economic guru on Africa Bill Easterly has to say about the book:

With such a statistical muddle, to remake other societies on the basis of what numbers flicker across Oxford computer screens is at best hubris, and at worst irresponsibility. If Collier’s statistical analysis does not hold up under scrutiny, unfortunately,then his recommendations are not a reliable guide for deploying foreignaid, technical assistance, or armies.

Economists should not be allowed toplay games with statistics, much less with guns.

More here.

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