Collier, Paul. The Bottom Billion: Why the Poorest Countries Are Failing and What Can Be Done About It.

Author:da Cruz, Jose de Arimateia
Position:Book review
 
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Collier, Paul. The Bottom Billion: Why the Poorest Countries Are Failing and What Can Be Done About It. New York: Oxford University Press, 2007. 195 pp.

Global trade and globalization are once again getting bad press as trade ministers from around the world are meeting at the World Trade Organization (WTO) headquarters in Geneva in an attempt to make a breakthrough in the Doha Round of trade talks. For many opponents of globalization, the process since its inception has been unfair to the underdeveloped and developing worlds. Globalization has, according to its opponents, produced a "race-to-the-bottom" as multinational corporations (MNCs) searching for cheap labor and abundant labor move their industries to countries that will curb environmental restrictions and labor laws. On the other hand, proponents of globalization and global trade believe that millions of people at the bottom in the developing and underdeveloped world have been lifted as nations open up their markets and implement the so-called Washington Consensus; that is, a laundry list of prerequisites a nation state must follow to qualify for World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) loans. In fact, world exports reached US$14 trillion in 2006. (1)

A former director of research for the World Bank and current Director of the Center for the Study of African Economies at Oxford University, Paul Collier in The Bottom Billion: Why the Poorest Countries Are Failing and What Can Be Done About It offers a persuasive and compelling argument that the old ways of thinking about development and trade do not work for a group of nations comprising about 50 failing states. Most, about 70%, of the bottom billion live in Africa, but considerable numbers also inhabit countries like Bolivia, Myanmor, Cambodia, Haiti, Laos, North Korea, and Yemen. These economically dilapidated states, referred to as the bottom billion, have problems that defy traditional approaches to alternative poverty. The bottom billion forms a "ghetto of misery and discontent" in a sea of prosperity. Global poverty is actually falling for about eighty percent of the world. Still, the average life expectancy for those in the bottom billion is fifty years, whereas in developing countries it is sixty-seven years. Infant mortality is 14 percent in the bottom billion, whereas in developing countries it is 4 percent. Furthermore, the proportion of children with symptoms of long-term malnutrition is 36 percent in the bottom...

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