The End of Poverty: Economic Possibilities for Our Time.

Author:McClough, David
Position:Book review

The End of Poverty: Economic Possibilities for Our Time, by Jeffrey D. Sachs. New York: Penguin Books. 2005. Paper: ISBN 0143036580, $16.00. 397 pages.

In The End of Poverty: Economic Possibilities for Our Time, Jeffrey D. Sachs asserts that extreme poverty, defined as living on less than one dollar a day, can be eliminated by 2025. Moreover, he outlines how to achieve this noble and ambitious objective. Sachs presents a focused argument that suggests the end of poverty is possible.

Sachs reviews the global variation in economic development and introduces the development ladder as a metaphor depicting the economic development continuum. Asserting that economic development "tends to build on itself," (p. 73) Sachs posits that once a country has a foothold on the development ladder, the country can begin the desired ascent upward. The prescriptions presented in this book are intended to help the extreme poor establish a foothold on the development ladder.

In light of the endogeneity of economic development, Sachs asserts there is a threshold below which economic development fails to happen. He refers to the poverty trap confronting some countries trapped by disease, geographic isolation, climate challenges, environmental degradation, and extreme poverty. A poverty trap suggests the lack of private and public financial resources to make essential investments.

Sachs advocates clinical economics, described as the application of economic concepts in a fashion similar to how a physician might work with a patient. Sachs suggests that development practitioners need to recognize: 1) the interdependency among complex systems comprising an economy, 2) the interdependency between countries, 3) a variety of potential diagnoses, 4) the importance of monitoring and evaluating outcomes, and 5) the need for an enhanced sense of urgency. Clinical economics is illustrated through first-person accounts of his experience in Bolivia, Poland, Russia, China, and India.

Two chapters are dedicated to advocacy of the end of extreme poverty. In chapter ten, the reader is reminded that much of Africa is actually worse off since the 1960s when the World Bank and IMF (International Monetary Fund) first got involved. Sachs reports the horrifying conditions of extreme poverty and argues that the rich world has a moral responsibility to intervene to stop the unnecessary death.

In chapter eleven, Sachs thoroughly summarizes the various multilateral agreements that reflect...

To continue reading