The Bottom Billion

Are you interested in knowing more about Africa, and particularly its problems? Are you interested in knowing more about what causes poverty and what prevents poverty from (the so called poverty traps)? Are you interested in who the bottom billion are, what social, political and economic phenomena are present in their societies and how issues could be addressed? Do you want to know why international initiatives have been comparatively unsuccessful there?

If your answer to all these questions is yes, then you should read The Bottom Billion by Oxford University Center for the Study of African Economies Director Paul Collier. In his book he also shared his findings and other researchers’ findings about how rebel organizations behave (as political scientist with economic background I deem behavior of a certain group very important in search for the truth behind a certain issue), as well as how and why poverty traps such as civil wars, low income, being landlocked and having bad neighbors prevents poor countries in Africa not only from reaching economic growth but also exacerbates their problems.

Mr. Collier even gave his proactive solutions to the issues in the societies of the bottom billion – something that I recently realized not every author does in their books (but merely complains about the issues presented instead which to me makes such books good for nothing). Enacting better international laws (charters, trade policies) and changing the notion of aid and realizing that it’s part of the problem and not part of the solution as a result of which politicians should be pressured into wasteful aids that go into the elite’s pockets (what ordinary people could do) are to name a few of his solutions.

The only thing that I did not like in The Bottom Billion is that it is completely void of any data. Paul Collier only explains data instead, which makes it hard for the reader to picture his empirical evidence on what causes poverty and prevents a society from the bottom billion from attaining decent standards of living. Nevertheless, there is a reference part at the very end of the book titled Research on Which This Book Is Based – a list of journals which the reader might take a look at at a local library or on the Internet if they are more interested.


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