Category Archives: Economy

Collier, Paul: The Bottom Billion: Why the Poorest Countries Are Falling and What Can Be Done About It (2008)

The Bottom Billion
The Bottom Billion (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So, one billion people live in countries that are dirt poor. One billion! 1 000 000 000! The really strange thing is that global poverty is falling, except for in the poorest states (50) where the opposite is the case. Some of these countries, like Malawi, have always been at the bottom but others, like Sierra Leone, have only recently arrived there.

What Paul Collier explores in The Bottom Billion is why there does not seem to be an easily pinpointed answer to the question of why this is the case. Neither is the solution one simple answer. In order to find an answer Collier has had to turn to researching statistical data. Through that data, he tries to answer the following questions:

  • What are the possible causes of some countries staying at the bottom?
  • What, if anything, can be done to change that?

To get to those answers Collier looks at countries plagued by civil war, countries without natural resources, countries that have bad neighbors, poorly governed countries and latecomers to the international market.

This book is well worth reading. It certainly changed my way of thinking of the countries that are stuck in such terrible poverty. All I had to do (extremely difficult for me) is keep in mind that statistics are open to interpretation.