|The End of Poverty
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Celebrated economist Jeffrey Sachs has a plan to eliminate extreme poverty around the world by 2025. If you think that is too ambitious or wildly unrealistic, you need to read this book. His focus is on the one billion poorest individuals around the world who are caught in a poverty trap of disease, physical isolation, environmental stress, political instability, and lack of access to capital, technology, medicine, and education. The goal is to help these people reach the first rung on the "ladder of economic development" so they can rise above mere subsistence level and achieve some control over their economic futures and their lives. To do this, Sachs proposes nine specific steps, which he explains in great detail in The End of Poverty. Though his plan certainly requires the help of rich nations, the financial assistance Sachs calls for is surprisingly modest--more than is now provided, but within the bounds of what has been promised in the past. For the U.S., for instance, it would mean raising foreign aid from just 0.14 percent of GNP to 0.7 percent. Sachs does not view such help as a handout but rather an investment in global economic growth that will add to the security of all nations. In presenting his argument, he offers a comprehensive education on global economics, including why globalization should be embraced rather than fought, why international institutions such as the United Nations, International Monetary Fund, and World Bank need to play a strong role in this effort, and the reasons why extreme poverty exists in the midst of great wealth. He also shatters some persistent myths about poor people and shows how developing nations can do more to help themselves.
Despite some crushing statistics, The End of Poverty is a hopeful book. Based on a tremendous amount of data and his own experiences working as an economic advisor to the UN and several individual nations, Sachs makes a strong moral, economic, and political case for why countries and individuals should battle poverty with the same commitment and focus normally reserved for waging war. This important book not only makes the end of poverty seem realistic, but in the best interest of everyone on the planet, rich and poor alike. --Shawn Carkonen
"A landmark exploration of the way out of extreme poverty for the world's poorest citizens Among the most eagerly anticipated books of any year, this landmark exploration of prosperity and poverty distills the life work of an economist Time calls one of the world's 100 most influential people. Sachs's aim is nothing less than to deliver a big picture of how societies emerge from poverty. To do so he takes readers in his footsteps, explaining his work in Bolivia, Russia, India, China, and Africa, while offering an integrated set of solutions for the interwoven economic, political, environmental, and social problems that challenge the poorest countries. Marrying passionate storytelling with rigorous analysis and a vision as pragmatic as it is fiercely moral, The End of Poverty is a truly indispensable work."
- Mostly excellent until "the plan"
As a student of economic development and centrist politically, I found much of this book to be useful and insightful. He combines illuminating stories ("I was there to help Poland become market-oriented") with a wide array of drier statistics and analysis. His prescription, at 50,000 feet, is potentially quite promising: attack the problems of development at a wholistic level, in a coordinated effort, to bring the countries that aren't even at the bottom rung of development (his metaphor) onto at least the bottom rung, from where they should be able to climb on their own.
Where he loses it, IMO, is in the overly optimistic assumption, never stated, that it's possible to scale up programs that have been demonstrated to work on a small scale, in narrow contexts, into massive (and successful) interconnected efforts. Here, I find his academic background leaves him lacking the appreciation of the operational complexities and difficulties such an effort would entail. But I think the criticism is more one of timescale and initial focus, rather than condemnation of the underlying ideas. His book inspired me to contemplate the possibilities, e.g., choose 10 cities and surrounding rural areas in five countries and experiment with best-of-breed programs addressing the major areas he indicates need focus, and working out the bugs over the course of five years so you could expand it to other cities and other countries.
In other words, this book is a major contribution to understanding and working towards solutions for problems that affect us all in today's highly interconnected world, where extreme poverty can be a fertile ground for breeding anti-Western terrorism....more info
- Required reading
This should be required reading for anyone living in a first world country. Admittedly I was very naive regarding the current state of world poverty. I had no idea such a large percentage of the world still lives on $2 a day or less! Sachs provides a very clear depiction of the current state, the problems, possible solutions, and what it will take to end poverty. In my opinion, everyone should read this book to open their eyes to how good many of us have it (you're reading this from a computer or hand-held device so you don't have it that bad). If nothing more, it gives you an appreciation for many of the available services that are often taken for granted by our public, like education, healthcare, eradication of common disease, sanitation, etc. In today's economic situation, we should rethink the magnitude of the problems that could be solved with a $750 billion stimulus package. The oppotunity cost is great. It's a bit disturbing how quickly congress and the president can allocate funds to support the crumbling financial sector, yet well-intentioned people like Dr. Sachs need to plead with the government over the course of years to send money abroad, with the government often coming up short of their pledged amount....more info
- Leaf on the Cover? Maybe That's the Solution. Photosynthesis. Get on That.
What do Bono, and countless other celebrities have in common with the author? A: They've always wanted to be celebrities. What is different? A: The celebs actually think that the world can be rid of poverty and misery and vice.
Are you honestly going to tell me that one of the world's most influential economists ACTUALLY believes that poverty can be banished or even meaningfully reduced? Not a chance. Not with Africa's population growth rate. Sachs is selling panic again to promote himself and it's really beginning to grate my nerves.
The entire book is a formula to get people "involved" i.e.: spending money a happy percentage of which Sachs and others like him will collect. The truth is that despite all the self-important boo-hooing about how a child dies every 3 seconds in Africa, no one ever mentions that 12 were just born and 8 survived which is why the continent has a growth rate of 3% and will harbor 1.2 billion starving souls in next 23 years. People who, when China and India become as rich as Japan, will be happy to stitch together our soccer balls.
- Way too easy and simplistic...
Sachs is a generally a good writer (and speaker), which explains how this book can get so convincing. It is even more convincing because it touches upon the West's sense of guilt -- what William Easterly aptly called "The White Man's Burden". The problem with this sense of guilt is that it is easy to convince people in rich country that money can solve poor country's problem.
It cannot. Which is why, neither can foreign aid.
The problem is that Jeffrey Sachs takes for granted a problem that those who study economics was duly warned early on: the principal-agent problem -- both between-country (between donor and recipient country) and within-country (the planner above and the actual poor recipient). At the end of the day, to quote British economist John Kay, "only the poor can make poverty history".
The sharpest, and well-argued, well-researched criticism of Sachs can be found in Easterly's The White Man's Burden (2006). However, for those really interested in understanding the issue, with solid evidence, should instead pick up Easterly's first book -- a masterpiece in development economics -- entitled "The Elusive Quest for Growth"....more info
I loved this book and found his work and ideas very inspiring (although a little preachy at the end, but I didn't care). I've recommended it to all of my friends and those that have read it are constantly talking to me about how they just want to get out there and do something about poverty.
I think everyone should read this book....more info
- At least it got people talking about global economics...
I really wanted to love this book. It came strongly recommended by a good friend who is very interested in development work. Whenever I read a review I always try and figure out what angle the reviewer is coming from, so for the record I'm deeply interested in development work and I have a background in economics and environmental science, but mostly I'm just really well read.
The book immediately starts off on the wrong foot when Sachs, for some reason, decides to set 1820 as the base year for determining world poverty and decides that in 1820 the world is universally poor and on an even playing field. In doing so, he ignores European colonization of virtually all of South America, All of North America, and most of Africa and the resulting poverty that occurred among the indigenous populations as they were thrown off the best plots of land. He brushes aside the argument that colonization had a great deal to do with the rapid development of the west by pointing out that the colonies economies grew even during colonization. This is true, however, there's a reason for that: the colonizers had installed local populations. Some of the money was staying put, the vast majority was going to the "mother country." He also cites longevity statistics (40 years in Western Europe) and says that applies globally and says that disease was a major problem. Prior to the European settlement of the America's the people were taller, and lived longer than their European counterparts. They also didn't have any of the Western Diseases (small pox, measles etc) because they lacked beasts of burden and the population density of Western Europe. Anyone who starts off a book playing fast and loose with History and with Economic theory can't be trusted to create an accurate model; and it's true. His model is riddle with flaws that other reviewers have pointed out. People like his theories because it absolves them of developed world guilt and makes the solution seem easy without much in the way of self-sacrifice. Like too many economic models, however, reality and the ideal are not the same....more info
- Illuminating book on macoeconomics
Did the last reviewer actually read the book? I am somewhat puzzled by his review since Sachs actually agrees with some of the reviewer's criticisms of economic policies in developing countries.
In any event, whether or not you agree with Sachs' recommendations, the book is a wonderful introduction to basic macroeconomics and a superb review on the history and drivers of growth in developing countries. While I am not particularly interesting in public policy issues, this book made me want to care and expanded my thinking about poverty beyond the United States....more info
- An Interesting point of view..but
This book was a tough read for me. Professor Sachs has many interesting things to say but his self congratulatory certainty made me put it down a number of times. His constant pejorative use of the terms "rich countries" and "poor countries" is simplistic and adolescent. The first third of the book is essentially a tribute to himself and his macro economic adventure stories from the 80s and 90s in Eastern Europe, Russia and Latin America. Unfortunately many of them have unraveled of late and are no longer the successes he thought they would be.
The second third is largely devoted to AIDS, Malaria and hunger as they effect and influence developing economies. Much can be found on this elsewhere but it is none the less instructive. His use of medical diagnosis as a metaphoric device gets tedious but being a nurse, maybe maybe its just me.
In the last third we really get let down. Sachs shares his celebrity pal Bono's simple enthusiasm for foreign debt relief without considering in any serious way alternatives for lending/giving money to developing countries in the future. After all, forgiving debt that was never going to be paid back anyway is really not that big a deal. It only puts countries in a position to start borrowing again. The issue of what to do and say to developing countries in providing new foreign aid the day after the debt is forgiven is largely given short shrift. After giving a brief nod to microfinance, community based economic development,and the need for "transparency and accountability" his ultimate answer is more of the same...huge increases in direct aid to to the governments that have been stealing and squandering all along. Any concerns about corruption and diversion of aid funds are cavalierly dismissed as "racism" and he moves on.
Sachs waxes passionately about the UN as the ideal instrument of economic development and goes so far as to describe Kofi Annan as a "great statesmen", something that made me gag. The UN is a corrupt bureaucratic and woefully inefficient organization and has only become more so under Annan's crooked leadership. As someone who lives and works in developing Africa, I can tell you with certainty that corruption and diversion of aid is a huge problem that is literally killing people every day. Allowing people to steal simply cannot continue. The answer to ending poverty by 2025, if such a thing is to be made possible cannot be more of the same. Read carefully, that is all Sachs has to offer. A truly new approach to engaging with developing nations compassionately and constructively would be most welcomed. You won't find it in this book....more info
- If you're interested in this topic, this is a must-read
Just an FYI, if you are considering buying this book I wouldn't use the reviews as an absolute reference. I noticed a number of factual errors in the reviews already posted, particularly the really negative ones. Jeffrey Sachs is reported to have made points he never made (at least in my reading of the book); not to have covered points that he did in fact cover; and to be 'all for' certain things that in reality he only mentions as a minor part of his program. Just something to take note of, if you're shopping here.
Overall I thought this book was a gem. First the positive...it was easy enough for a beginner like me to understand (not to mention interesting - no small task for an economics book) yet contained a wealth of information and a great analysis of poverty in Africa and other parts of the world. Jeffrey Sachs goes into detail about many of the things we're always told about poverty (usually without any supporting evidence, other than 'this is just the way it is') and give compelling reasons for why he believes these answers are false. In one instance, he notes that people repeatedly blame almost all of Africa's problems on corruption, and then gives very interesting data to support the idea that this isn't the case. For example, the fact that countries in other parts of the world with similar levels of corruption have in fact made much stronger economic gains, and the fact that decreased corruption shows little correlation to a stronger economy among countries within Africa.
The analysis regarding why so many parts of Africa are trapped in poverty and what measures need to be taken to address this was the most fascinating part of the book for me. There is a lot of information about Africa's unique situation in terms of climate, disease, geography, and history. I also enjoyed reading about many of the myths surrounding foreign aid, for example, how little of it is actually money, spent on things that matter, as opposed to various other programs dressed up as 'donations'.
Another plus, for me, was the fact that Jeffrey Sachs seems very balanced. He does not vilify or over-praise the various groups he comes into contact with, rather, he is able to see both their positive and negative traits. He doesn't leap on to one side of an issue, praising market force as the savior of all things or claiming that only a socialist model is a humanitarian model. In a world that tends to be polarized, he is able to make a rational case for a blend of techniques, ideas, and philosophies.
There were a few cons, although overall I highly recommend this book. As a few people have mentioned, Jeffrey Sachs comes off as a little self-congratulatory in parts. Don't get me wrong - maybe his record is just 'that' good, but my guess would be that he was trying to establish some credibility by describing all of the times he's been right in the past when established thinking has been incorrect. There were also a few places where even I, new to this topic though I am, thought his plans sounded a little idealistic. The idea that we are going to finance foreign aid by a special tax specific to the wealthy, requiring them to give a percent of their income to foreign assistance, for example.
There were also a few areas where I thought more information should have been provided. For example, the book says that of course measures must be taken to safeguard against corruption in government and make sure that money is being spent as it should be, and then moves on. How difficult or easy actually implementing these measures would be, or how effective any existing measures really are, isn't really discussed. Another big question that I was waiting to have answered was what the proposed solution for Africa's geography issues are. There is a long description of how Africa's unique geography has made it difficult for industry to develop, but no real follow-up as to how they're supposed to eventually get around this. Will improved infrastructure and roads solve the problem? Industries that do not require much in the way of transport? I wish this had been revisited. Of course a book can only be so long and I suppose there are always going to be things that are not covered in total detail, but I felt there were places when a little more would have helped.
Overall, whether you agree with everything or not, I think there's no denying that there's a lot of great information in this book....more info
- Sensational Economics for the Masses
Jeffrey Sachs is a well-known economist among developing countries. He has provided advice on economic development in variety of countries in both Eastern Europe and the Third World. The book, however, though important in bringing attention to the issue of poverty follows a recent trend for economics to be used for media sensation, as evidenced by a forward by Bono, rather than a rigorous analysis of what economists do know and do not know about economic development.
The first misconception of the book is its title. The goal of economics should be sustained long term economic growth, particulary in the developing countries and not an ad hoc approach of welfare transfer from rich to poor to remove short-term poverty.
The second misconception of the book, is that economics and plitical science have figured out what is wrong with the developing world, but somehow the IMF and World Bank are either incompetent or not well-meaning. While the IMF and World Bank are defintely in need of grave reform, such statements are at best sensational and at worst politically motivated. NOBODY in Economics, and I say this as an economist and a researcher in the field, knows or even has a decent understanding of why some countries are poor and others are not. Worse, we economists, including Jeffrey Sachs, do not know what to advise a particular nation in order to grow its economy. Part of the problem is that economics does not know how to treat such important issues as religion, culture, social capital, institutions, which distort or completely eliminate the economic decisions upon which Western society is built.
Finally, the biggest shortcoming in the book is its focus on treating the symptom rather than fixing the problem. Poverty is a result of a myriad of issues as outlined above, such as religion, culture, human and social capital, institutions. But the biggest reason is the VERY HIGH BIRTH RATE in developing nations. Any advance that we make on poverty would be swamped by birth rates of 5-7 children per women, which exist in the developing world. Reducing BIRTH RATES IS the solution to the poverty problem. Jeffrey Sachs knows that, but it is not as cool and hip and Bono-like to talk about birth control, abortion and sex education, than taxing the rich nations and giving to poor. Politics and may I say religion rather than facts and rigorous economics prevail in this book.
The only benefit of this book is that, yes economics is an important science, and making it popular is dear to the heart of any economist, no matter how much he disagrees with the analysis....more info
- Good ideas - questionable means
Very good. I liked so many things about the book - surprisingly though I have two significant compliants.
The solution that the "Very Rich." Billionaires should pay for everything is bogus. All of us whom are able need to have a share in the resolution. Secondly saying AIDS in Africa is not in part due to promiscuity is false - the author (Sachs) compares sub-saharan Africa (in terms of sexual partners per) to Rio De Janiero and Thailand. This is misleading - compare it to the US/Canada/Europe or whatever - not the most sexual places on earth.
Still a good read for awareness - I would hope it would motivate us to make a difference....more info
For my life, "The End Of Poverty" has been the most important book I read, and not because I would agree with all solutions it offers.
What will end extreme poverty and needless suffering? I don't think any of us has a precise answer. Ending, or relieving, extreme poverty will happen as a result of very complex causal relations.
Only history will tell us what can put an end to abject poverty: Can the debt-forgiveness, aspired by the international community, contribute to reducing poverty? Maybe real progress can only be made if every individual is represented through a democratic government? Can fair trade make a difference? What will be the impact of the Global Fund against Aids, Tuberculoses and Malaria? Will less poverty produce less corruption or vice versa? Is the world's massive arms trade hampering all local development efforts in the long run?
At this point in history, we have nothing but questions. But Dr. Sachs points a direction: To end poverty, we must have the will, dedication and energy to do so! We can impossibly 100% foresee what strategy, or better, which combination of strategies, will make a difference where. But faced with the utter perverse situation of grave suffering in a world of plenty, we must devote our energy in pursuing all strategies that are ahead, and we must do so now!
In many ways, I would compare "The End of Poverty" to Kant's conception of the "Democratic Peace": Maybe not all countries turned into democracies, and maybe there would still be war if all countries were democracies. But democracy is sure the right direction!
- The End of Poverty
This was a very informative book, but had so much information that it boggled the mind. It is really a book for academics....more info
- Optimism on Development and Effective Aid for Impoverished Countries
The End of Poverty: Economic Possibilities for Out Time by Jeffery Sachs, is an optimistic, forceful argument for the economic potential of developing countries and the necessity of increased in aid from rich countries to realize it.
Jeffrey Sachs is an accomplished macro-economist, currently at Columbia University, who has experience helping poor countries get on track to development. While, often described as left-leaning, he makes strong cases in favor of free-trade, market forces, and the role of the private sector in achieving economic development. He does often tout his own success regarding recommendations for economic reforms that enhanced development in impoverished. However, given the overall pessimistic attitude that many have towards real, subtantial economic development in these difficult places, I am not so sure it was out of place.
While, I have a certain amount of skepticism towards Official Development Assistance, ODA, that Sachs makes a case for. His argument is compelling, especially in areas like health and education, that do not have a history of being served well by market forces alone. Even in infrastructure development, while rich countries now rely on significant private sector involvement, during their initial development stage, it was entirely a public endeavor.
In the end, I am more willing to accept Sachs' argument that ODA is an essential part of what poor countries need to achieve sustainable economic development. I am in entire agreement that promises we make as a nation need to be fulfilled, and not given lip service. The other option is to not make those kinds of promises, but the current situation is dishonorable with regard to the gap Sachs illuminates between the United States' promised aid and the United States' actual aid to developing countries. I do think we need to hear more about technological innovation and technology transfer, that Sachs seems to assume will happen if the proper economic conditions are established. I am not yet convinved of that. Also, I still believe that the devil will be in the details as far as ODA is concerned, and if not executed properly we could easily establish incentives for those participating on both sides of the divide that work against our real objectives.
And lastly, I should add, I found the foreword by Bono of U2 to be very thoughtful and eloquent on the subject. I was more suprised than I should have been, I suspect....more info
- Laura Reviews: The End of Poverty
If these crazy economic times aren't enough of a reminder of how we're all one step away from personal economic crises, The End of Poverty drives it home. Like in-your-kitchen home.
We all know poverty is a problem, but for those of us who live in privileged societies, we often forget it about it, it doesn't hit close enough to home. We feel bad that poverty exists, but it is not necessarily our personal problem.
Sachs challenges our complacency on so many levels that there's no way we can ignore reality. He hits us not only with compelling statistics (20% of the world lives in extreme poverty) but with real-world here and now solutions. Sachs posits that solving extreme poverty is not creating lofty academic governance models but to invest in the basics - water, sanitation, disease control.
And he shows us that the cost of doing so is not as daunting as we might think. For example, the 'rich' can lead investments in technology that we often take for granted - mobile phones, the internet, modern agricultural technology - these are scalable.
What we often don't remember is that even here in the U.S., extreme poverty is right next door.
Check out my other reviews at: http://laurareviews.blogspot.com....more info
- Great concepts, poor politics
This serious look at tackling world poverty deserves utmost respect and serious thought from all of us concerned with the problems discussed. It is rather tarred in my opinion by the clearly anti-Bush/Republican bias, that is evidence throughout the last portion of the book. World poverty needs all of us working together, and that includes many who are strongly conservative in their philosophy and economics, and who are still deeply concerned about how we can best help the poorest of the poor. ...more info
- Good for the average person; better for economics majors
While I was able to understand maybe 85% of this, there were times when it seemed like it would be best as a text for a macroeconomics class or at least best if one had more economics knowledge than I had. There were occasional references to some (unexplained) economic terms that seemed to assume a level of understanding from the reader as if it would always be read by economics majors. e.g. Do you understnad the difference between gross national product and gross domestic product & the significance of both of these? He seems to assume you do.
Nevertheless, some useful information and concepts if you have a brain & don't mind using it!...more info
What a wonderful book. I won't go into detail, as I think the first few reviews do a fine job, but this book is definitely worth reading....more info
- The title says it all - Economic Possibilities!
Sachs engages the reader in what we can accomplish if we truly had the will to end extreme poverty. It is inspring at the same time a little depressing knowing we have not lived up to our commitments. It is a lesson in economics, humanitarian aid, politics, and perhaps the inherent nature of people....more info
- Long Journal Article.
There are only two crucial chapters in the entire book which lay out the actual figures needed to meet the Millennium Development Goals set by the UN, around which the book revolves - both could have been written more succinctly. Otherwise, the national case studies which occur in the first half of the text are interesting, anecdotal stories for development practitioners, but on the whole are nothing exceptional nor prove integral to Sachs' argument. The introduction by Bono contains flagrant factual errors (names are wrong), and should be skipped completely. In total, the book lays out a rather common argument in the development literature, but does so with at least a quality of writing and lack of platitudes that are hard to find amongst non-academic writers. ...more info
- Optimistic to the point of being simplistic
Way too optimistic, reviving outdated theories of the '50s and '60s (esp Rostow), forgetting all about the reality of evil, corruption, injustice, both of the rich and of (leaders of) the poor and forgetting almost all about participation, empowerment and advocacy, assuming that macro scale economics are the same at micro (village) scale.
Just a small example: one of the main ideas in the book is: give villages a big push, so that they can start climbing the economic ladder. Increased economic activity leads to increased taxes which leads to increased public services, which helps increase economic activity. The first causal relation overlooks the fact that 80-90% (to sometimes 100%) of economic activities in African villages take place in the informal economy, where there are no official tax systems. The second causal relation overlooks (as said above) the fact of corruption. The example of Nigeria (enough income through oil exports, and corruption not mainly at the lower ranks but even at the very highest rank) shows that corruption is not a matter of need because of lack of money.
The milleniumvillages approach is, as a friend of mine said 'thinking big inside the box'.
I have not yet met people who have lived in an African village for an extended period of time (more than just a honeymoon time of 3 months) who believed Sachs' methods are workable.
Is it a case of 'give it a try'? Well, you are working with people, impacting their mentality and worldview. It's not a business which if it goes bankrupt you just say 'I've tried, let's start another'.
I agree though, with someone who said: Sachs is the best fundraiser of the age. he is performing well in that area....more info
- Gameplan for extreme poverty.
I think this is a must read. Living in America where we have so much compared to the staggering numbers of individuals who have so litte. Extreme poverty is described as living on $1 a day. The book has a feasible and realistic gameplan for addressing the poorest of the poor. Well written and much needed....more info
- Take with a couple grains of salt
Like a lot of college students, I read "The End of Poverty" in a comfortable coffeeshop in America and thought it sounded pretty neat. I was an economics major, with a specialty in developmental econ, and Professor Sachs's idea of "clinical economics" really struck a chord with me. After all, as Sachs says, "it's up to us" to end global poverty, right?
Well, not really. See, since I sat in that coffeehouse and read "End of Poverty," I've served in the Peace Corps in Central Africa, done a lot more reading and actually gotten to work with officials from most of the aid agencies (governmental and non-) that Sachs talks about in this book. And I've come to realize that Professor Sachs's central idea in this book - what Professor William Easterly calls the next "Big New Plan" - is probably fatally flawed. It's flawed not because Prof. Sachs's research isn't top-notch - it mostly is, with some exceptions - but because it rests on two very weak assumptions. The first is that rich countries will ever "solve" poverty in the Third World through big, top-down programs designed and funded by Western planners. That is patently false. The second is that corruption isn't actually that big a problem. Also, way off the mark.
We in the West would really like to think that it will only take the right combinations of (our) policies and (our) funds to "lift up" the rest of the world out of poverty. But this simply isn't the case. Obviously, aid has an important role to play. But until many third world governments - yeah, I'm looking directly at you, Afica - get serious about governing, and not just enriching the local venal coterie of government sycophants at the expense of Western taxpayers, "international development" will amount to little more than an elaborate charade played out for the benefit of well-meaning Westerners who inexplicably keep sending their money to the Third World despite precious few tangible results. (And I'm afraid that many of the old hands in most of the major development organizations agree, when they speak candidly.)
Again, Prof. Sachs is a smart guy with an important perspective. But if you're looking for a more real-world approach to solutions for modern international development schemes, I highly suggest Robert Calderisi's "The Trouble with Africa" and/or William Easterly's "The White Man's Burden."...more info
- I Laughed
Sachs was part of the 'neo-liberal' revolution -- the ivy league capitalist youth, really -- that promoted free market policies across numerous developing countries in the 1990's to disastrous consequences. Such policies were disguised as solutions to poverty-ridden societies and sold as such, in Latin America, to conservative governments eager to be seen as active in implementing 'economic reforms' and 'working for the people'. This 'neo-liberal' medicine was presented as a cure-all to increasingly impoverished and desperate communities, harking back to the age-old sophistry that an economy left open to competition will eventually iron out the wrinkles of disparity in society. Of course, Sach's policies served to make the rich richer, the corrupt greedier, and there wasn't even a trickle-down effect to go with it.
Why was Sachs believed? Because it made sense to the rich. After all, simply put, his advice to Latin American governments was to allow the privatization of national industries and services by international investors. In the process, two effects kicked in. First, some countries (like Bolivia) lost control of their natural resources to foreign corporations who sold them for pittance on the international market, paying negligeable taxes in return (so much for local development!). Second, services that weren't sufficiently profitable to these private companies were simply closed down (where are our trains?!). In some cases, it made more 'economic' sense to buy a service/industry and close it down by selling it off as spare parts! Creative indeed. Such a system was mutually beneficial to foreign investors and the local wealthy. Oh, and the net results? Rising joblessness, a bigger black market (a burgeoning informal economy), and more crime, thank you.
A country is not a business. And Sachs had little to offer in that direction. Unfortunately, his unoriginal and unconscientious advice was taken seriously by some Latin American governments. Since then, what's happened? A sharp popular reaction against Sach's philosophies across the continent has led to violent social unrest and more economic uncertainty -- in the last four years, two governments in Bolivia were toppled over for maintaining their 'neo-liberal' policies. It is thanks to 'thinkers' like Jeffrey Sachs -- those who like to present themselves as the 'kind' and 'eclectic' side of free market thinking (isn't that how the West recycles its old and sterile concepts?) -- that some societies in the region are now struggling with worse poverty levels and institutionalized inequality.
That's why the title of this book makes me laugh.
- This book challenged my self image as a hard-nosed realist
This book changed my outlook in two ways.
First, it redefined what I think of as poverty. For me and I'm sure for many others who haven't thought about it deeply, "poverty" called up images that ranged from trailer parks to ghettos to third-world sweatshops to famine stricken villages. When Sachs speaks of ending poverty he is referring to extreme poverty of famines and state failures only, and not the relative poverty found in affluent countries. While someone born into a ghetto may not have the same opportunities as someone born in a suburb, they are unlikely to die because of a lack of food, water, or shelter. In countries stricken by extreme poverty, by contrast, millions die each year because "they are too poor to live."
By concentrating on just this set of extremely poor people, Sachs usefully narrows the scope of the problem he wants to address. As a hard-nosed realist, I would take issue with anyone utopian enough to think that relative poverty can be eliminated, especially after the disastorous attempts to do just that by the Communist countries of the last century. But Sachs does not want to give every sweatshop worker a BMW or every trailer park dweller a diamond ring. He wants us to take on the task of restructuring the world so that death because of want no longer happens. It's something that we in the first world have proved is possible, since we have already done it for our own citizens.
This leads to the second way this book changed my outlook. Sachs spends the majority of the book showing how most of the extremely poor people of the world live in countries that simply do not have the capability of helping themselves. Most countries, even those in the third world, have entered the "virtous cycle" of capital accumulation and investment. But in the extremely poor countries all existing capital is consumed simply to stay alive. Indeed, in many cases the amount of capital per person is decreasing thanks to a growing population or environmental degredation. The problems that I had always thought of as the key factors to helping these countries, such as less corruption/better governance or culture factors like women's rights, are not at the root of poverty. In fact, given the in-depth explanations in this book I am now convinced that it is possible to have a perfectly governed, free, and equitable country that is nonetheless doomed to unending poverty and suffering.
The only way out of the poverty trap is an infusion of capital from outside to pay for basic infrastructure and development. That is where our task, and our moral responsibility, begins. If, like me, you always considered poverty an unfortunate but unavoidable condition of the world at large I urge you to read this book. It makes a clear and compelling case that if we commit ourselves we can make the world a radically better place....more info
- A disappointment
Jeff Sachs is a very brilliant economist. It is hard, almost impossible, to believe he is responsible for parts (certainly not all!) of this book.
I don't know where to start. In the introduction, Prof. Sachs details (1) a drippy thank-you to his colleague Angelina Jolie and (2) an assortment of quotes from Bono, the famous lead singer of U2. Dread crept through my belly when I read this. If I wanted to read People Magazine circa 2004, I would not not be reading this. Some real information please / please / a-please please? Sorry, that's a Paula Abdul reference, enjoy it Dr. Sachs.
Sachs is a star-struck would-be rock star himself. One gets the feeling nobody ever told Sachs "no" in his life. He seemingly goes to very good parties these days, and may have written this book after becoming similarly intoxicated.
From a technical standpoint, Sachs is a master. Yet, his practical intuitions are no better than the average person. He is wrong according to many Africa experts. Foreign aid on a soverign basis tends to build armies and private jets for African leaders -- not filter down to the AIDS children.
Sach's book is built on an admirable foundation -- that we should help African children be rid of malaria and AIDS. This can be done. We should do it.
His personal experience leads him to believe that dictators and corrupt ministers will lie down and surrender to the market, as occurred in well-educated Eastern Europe and Asia. Unfortunately, this is ludicrous from the practical standpoint, while it may be attractive in theory. African governments are a huge problem.
Sachs gives insufficient credit to the rule of law and stable institutions. These are the bedrock of global trade and prosperity. Business needs law and order. Africa's problems go deeper than just malaria and aids. So must the "solutions."
The Aid-to-Trade transition has never actually worked in real life. Money can buy medicine -- but it can't weave a functioning economy out of whole cloth. This is a poisonous myth. Africans need investment and factories, so they can become the next Taiwan. Let them buy their own medicine, like everybody else does. This is the only proven way.
Africa is seeing the most hope in years from an unlikely source -- Chinese investment. Yes, the Africans actually want to do business, and China is EMPLOYING them. Gee, we never thought of that? How about it, Dr. Sachs? Employment? Instead of throwing a sandwich and some pills at them?
I don't want to call Sachs a "dandy," because he is a well known genius. But geniuses can be wrong. Sachs' central theme in this book is dead wrong and there's no way around it.
China gained prosperity from factories. Japan ditto. Korea ditto. Taiwan ditto. On-the-job training. Technology transfer. It is about time we tried to do business in Africa, perhaps encouraging it with tax policies here at home....more info
- A New Economic Policy
This book provides an interesting new way to think about economics, clinical economics. Sach's suggestions to the economist community to diagnose market and country problems the way a doctors diagnoses a patient, finding root causes, is very thought provoking.
Great book with logical analysis and suggestions....more info
Bought this book as a gift and we were satisfied all around. Arrived as anticipated....more info
- yeah sure thing
the man who has brought destruction to the Russian economy through the "shock therapy" and preparing the ground for his zionist jewish friends in Russia to own all the key national assets, now goes on to tell us what to do with the rest of the world...his books should be prohibited...more info
- A GREAT ECONOMIST GOES ON THE FIELD TO UNDERSTAND POVERTY
Jeffrey Sachs has for long been a celebrated economist, a leader in the field of development economics. In this book, he focuses on global poverty and tries to draw conclusions from the world's experiences in teh 20th century.
The book is divided into three parts: (1) country analyses, (2) on-the-ground microeconomic problem identification and solutions and (3) ways to scale up the identified solutions on a global scale.
The country sections focus on individual countries, trying to disect a bit of economic and political history to explain why some countries have succeeded instead of others -- the countries analyzed include China, India, Bolivia, Russia, and Poland. In brief chapters, Sachs gives the reader a good understanding of recent history and perspectives of each country.
The microeconomic solution sections are the most interesting I believe. Sachs is on the ground trying to identify why hard working people do not get out of poverty. A few areas are emphasizes, such as agricultural productivity through fertilizers, basic health investments such as bed nets to prevent malaria, education, infrastructure such as roads, communication and power, and safe drinking water.
Last is the section of scaling up such solutions across the poor world. This section is not as interesting as the previous two and fails to recognize the usual agency problem in which donor's money may not reach the poor due to lack of proper incentives along the way.
The End of Poverty is a nice book, a good effort to address certain issues that economists often underestimate. The usual policy prescription of economics are shown to fall far short of realities and necessities on the ground. Growth cannot be sparked by macroeconomic stability, but by a combination of factor which include stability. The other factors are what Jeff Sachs tries to address, quite successfully in this volume....more info
- Insightful and inspiring perspective on one of the great opportunities of our generation
Jeffrey Sachs uses his broad knowledge to frame the context of a call for action to end extreme poverty in our generation. He demonstrates through detailed statistical comparisons the evolution of the widening gap of economic opportunity between the world's regions, and provides interesting narrative examples to support his conclusions.
Although the statistics sometimes are mind-numbing, Sachs does a good job of creating graphical representations in the form of world maps, which serve to educate the reader and demonstrate the often overlooked connections between health, education and economic development. He has "done his homework" in providing a wealth of historic perspectives on the problems we observe in today's economy.
Sachs uses his groundwork effectively as a springboard to inspire our thinking about how we can help create a better world by doing relatively simple things. Again, he uses the narrative to demonstrate how small amounts of money, medicine or appropriate technologies, delivered to the point of need, can make a huge difference in the outcomes for people living in or near extreme poverty....more info
- Must Read for Those Interested in Development
You, being a smart person who is up on contemporary debates in economics and development and/or are a reader of Vanity Fair, probably already know all about Sachs and this book.
Sachs made his name giving "shock therapy" to various third world economies. He recommended they jack up interest rates, and pushed them towards neo-liberal free market structures. His career hit a bit of a bad patch when he was associated with the economic meltdown of the former Soviet Socialist Republic. This book is his recommendations for development in Africa.
Sach's ideas at base are pretty simple - Sub Saharan Africa needs lots and lots more aid. This aid should be put to use curing easily defeatable diseases and establishing local agrarian and, eventually, manufacturing economies. Oh, and right wing type who say that more aid won't fix the problem are wrong. That's about it.
I think Sach's has this all about half right. More aid is a good idea, but alone, and in the style he suggests, I doubt it will lead to an end to poverty. Paul Collier's more nuanced book The Bottom Billion: Why the Poorest Countries are Failing and What Can Be Done About It, which I just finished, and will review soon, gives a better battle plan for dealing with seriously troubled countries. Sach's plan is a little too throw-money-at-the-problem for me.
Still, this book is worth a read. If you're going to talk about world poverty now a days (and I tend to talk about world poverty a lot), you going to have to know what Sach is up to. He is by far the biggest name in the field. He may not always be right, but he's the player that you need to know about....more info
- Much to offer (even if you don't believe in Sachs's plan to end poverty)
Sachs covers a lot of ground: a bit of world economic history, a bit of travelogue, moral arguments for foreign aid, and ... The Plan (to end world poverty by 2025).
The Plan itself, while mostly fascinating to read (with patches of exhausting technical detail), has its challenges. The biggest problem is that, while the investments he outlines will theoretically jump-start growth, it has never been tested, and the West has a long history of failed development ideas. Among other more technical points, Sachs either underestimates the inefficiencies in the aid agencies and in governments, or he overestimates the ease of overcoming them.
But the plan (and how to pay for it) makes up only four out of eighteen chapters. Here is what else awaits you: a brief economic history of the world and characterization of the rich-poor divides in the world today (chapters 1 and 2), a primer on growth economics (chapter 3), Sachs's prescription for how development economics should be practiced (chapter 4), tales of Sachs's very high level consulting in Bolivia, Poland, and Russia (chapters 5 through 7), economic histories of India and China (chapters 8 and 9), an overview of the economic and health situation in Africa (chapter 10), Sachs's views on how the West should respond to terrorism (chapter 11), The Plan (and how to pay for it (chapters 12 through 15), dispelling myths about why aid doesn't work (chapter 16), and the pep talk (chapters 17 and 18). The book can largely be read piecemeal. I particularly enjoyed chapters 1, 5 through 9, and 16.
One wearisome feature is the self-promotion. Sachs is the center of everything good that happens in this book. He has only praise for organizations he still works with (the UN and Columbia University's Earth Institute) but ample criticism for others (the World Bank, Western governments).
For more in this field, William Easterly's The Elusive Quest for Growth gives an excellent account of trends in development aid for Africa and why they haven't worked. Robert Klitgaard's Tropical Gangsters is an entertaining and insightful memoir of a World Bank economist advising in Sub-Saharan Africa....more info
- Good Ideas
I am not an economist or health expert so I am not qualified as to whether the statistics quoted are accurate or not, but I can say that helping poor people take care of themselves will make for a more stable world is a no-brainer, and he eloquently makes a good argument for that fact. The book lost a couple of stars for his potshots at the U.S. which was annoying and for relying so much on the U.N. The U.N. does a lot of good, but is also somewhat corrupt and disorganized. Overall, if you read the chapters focusing on his efforts to help people you will enjoy it. ...more info
- Experience, caring and solutions to end poverty
I found this book to be exceptional because it offered solutions to poverty. Jeffrey Sachs brings a wealth of experience and knowledge and deep caring. I found all of his experiences enlightening and helped my understanding of the problems and what needs to be evaluated on a region by region basis. What I liked best was realistic offering of what needs to be done to end poverty and positive attitude that this can be done if we make the necessary changes in our thinking and actions....more info
- From a professonal reader
I read. A lot. That said, only half this book is worth the time and energy it took me to read it. The middle half, to be specific. The first few chapters are dedicated to Sachs detailing to us that, no, he's not an idiot writing about something he's had no experience with and that, yes, he can help to solve macroeconomic problems. The end chapters are all Sachs recapping what he said in the rest of the book with charts and graphs that start to become meaningless if you're not a economist or a student with a couple econ classes under your belt. The middle, in my opinion, is the only redeeming part of this book that mentions far too often big-names Sachs has met and important jobs he's held. The middle actually talks about his plan for ending extreme poverty by 2015 and how we can do it. The rest of the book is just padding. So read chapters 8 - 15 if you want to "read" the book. Donate money to an NGO if you want to do something towards ending poverty with your time. ...more info
- why we lost the poor
The End of Poverty is an excellent book. It shows how economic thinking can provide a better wealth situation in the underdeveloped world. Jeffrey Sachs describes his last twenty years on development economics. He is the driving force behind the mayor developments in Bolivia and Poland. The book contains his experiences in Bolivia, Poland and Russia. If you introduce economic measures in these countries you can take a big step to let the people help themselves. But if you go to Africa, it seams that these measures are really not the first aid you can give them.
I think the basic steps for development are summarised in three major levels. These are more essential than the economic analysis. It helps you to understand the problem on an easier way. He explains these basics in the later chapters, especially in investment against poverty.
The first step is a good provided health service and education system by the government.
The least developed countries are lacking this stage. It is like Malawi. They didn't have the change to get on the development ladder because they are to poor and malaria is the biggest threat for them.
The second step is a good infrastructure, a functional justice system and a stable energy system. Most of the underdeveloped countries are governed by a regime who is not interested in infrastructure projects and a fair justice system. They abuse the foreign aid and let the people starve.
The third step of development is innovation, free trade opportunities and a stable economic policy, especially in Malaysia the introduction of technologies were a big step to growth in this region. China's economic performances have been driven by free trade and foreign direct investment.
But the biggest part of the third world is traced by war, famine and AIDS. Africa suffers very badly from these defects. The millennium project begins with these countries. He explains who easily it can be to help a single village in Kenya to get development started.
The rich world countries are more aware of the problems. It is a consequence of the incidents on 9/11 and the problems the U.S. and Spain are having with the immigrants at their borders. This forces to get development on a faster track. I I think it is not easy to achieve the millennium goals...more info
- Well Written
This book is incredibly well written and easy to understand, even for those with no background in development issues or economics. Sachs is to be commended for delivering economics in the everyday prose of the average citizen, and bringing these issues into the forefront of contemporary politics....more info
- A leading economist explains how society can end poverty
This is an excellent book by one of today's most prominent development economists. Jeffrey D. Sachs has been at the forefront of the most significant economic turnarounds - for better or worse - of the past quarter century. He helped end hyperinflation in Bolivia, advised Poland on its emergence from communism, and counseled Russia, China and Africa. On the basis of his extensive research and experience, he concludes that conventional economic solutions ignore some of the key factors responsible for poverty. Borrowing a page from physicians' diagnostic procedures, he shows how noneconomic factors can have economic implications. Along the way, he exposes the lamentable hypocrisy of the developed world and the institutions allegedly working for the development of the poor world. As an adviser to the leadership of the United Nations, Sachs believes that organization should be strengthened. He is not a dispassionate economist and doesn't pretend to be. He has a plausible case to make and he presses it hard, maybe now and then too hard, in this effort to convince the prosperous that effective help for the impoverished is practical, at least under some circumstances. We believe his well informed, heartfelt book belongs on the reading list of anyone who hopes the world can become a better place....more info
- Sachs does a first rate job
Jeffrey Sachs' The End of Poverty presents an excellent overview of the spectrum of economic development in the world and proposes sound ways to increase every area's economic progress. Sachs articulately makes the case that economic progress is not a zero-sum game where one nation has to "lose" for another to "win." He also sums up his career in championing the economically disadvantaged and shares his considerable success. He systematically refutes the various myths of the rich world as to why the poor world doesn't prosper. And he provides a clear, measurable plan as to how to address these gaps. One downside to this book is that too often, Sachs' tone comes across as overly negative towards the US. This may turn off some readers who otherwise would benefit greatly from this book. ...more info
- Historic Opportunity for Our Generation
Through clear illustrations and calculations, Jeffrey Sachs lays out a very optimistic and compelling argument that extreme poverty can be ended within our generation. Two major requirements of this plan are the rich nation's commitment to debt relief and their honoring of their promises to dedicate a meager 0.7% of GNP to Official Development Assistance (ODA). If properly invested in infrastructure, health, and education (a topic well covered in the book), these funds could put the extremely poor back on the economic ladder towards growth and development. Sachs sites numerous success stories such as the Marshall Plan and the eradication of African River Blindness and Smallpox where sufficient funding and dedication successfully accomplished development objectives.
In the process of laying out his strategy, Sachs convincingly dispels some commonly held myths about the extreme poor. He demonstrates that laziness and incompetence are not factors in their circumstances. The extreme poor are caught in a 'poverty trap' and cannot pull themselves out on their own. They need our assistance. Sachs also argues that we cannot wait to eliminate corruption before providing ODA. It is the other way around, we need to provide assistance so that progress can be made on economic growth and transparency and then corruption will decrease. Interestingly for an economist, he also downplays the benefits of reducing trade barriers on ending extreme poverty.
While Sach's plan to end extreme poverty was very interesting and stimulating, the middle section of this book (chapters 5 through 10) is dedicated to autobiographical case studies in how the author assisted developing countries get their economies on track. If you find case studies in global economic crises interesting, then try Robert Rubin's "In an Uncertain World" which was more dramatic and high profile. In this book, they provided an interesting backdrop, but slightly distracted the reader from the overall strategy to eliminate extreme poverty.
After World War I, the developed world did not take the reconstruction of Europe seriously and a global recession and World War II followed. That lesson was well learned and significant resources were dedicated to the highly successful Marshall plan after World War II. Hopefully we will remember this lesson and prioritize debt relief and meet our ODA commitments to end extreme poverty which is a root cause and facilitator of the global instabilities we are currently facing. ...more info
- just send more money?
Whereas a few centuries ago virtually everyone was poor, today, observes economist Jeffrey Sachs, we have somehow arrived at an "unimaginable divide between the richest and poorest parts of the world" (p. 18). About 40% of our fellow human beings live in "poverty" (1.5 billion) or "extreme poverty" (1 billion). As the Director of Columbia University's Earth Institute, Sachs has devoted his recent professional career to solving the tragedy of people and entire countries that live in "extreme poverty," defined as people who earn $1 a day or less. In the present volume he writes with unapologetic passion and inspiration, combining economic analysis with history, case studies, and vivid anecdotes from rural Kenyan villages to presidential suites where he has served as an advisor.
There are many, complex reasons why countries are poor, but the good news, insists Sachs, is that for the most part there are reasonable and practical solutions to their problems, so that ending "extreme poverty" by the year 2025 is a "realistic possibility." Along the way he dispels common myths about past development aid to countries and racist stereotypes. He focuses not only on horribly failed economies but also thriving, successful ones that many people might have thought would never compete. For nearly three decades China, for example, has been the world's "most successful economy," growing at an average per capita rate of almost 8% per year. East Asian countries have moved ahead. We have also tackled enormous global scourges, eradicating small pox and polio, and establishing the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB, and Malaria.
Now is the time to eradicate extreme poverty and to help the poorest of the poor reach the bottom rung of the development ladder where they can then move on up. Sachs is a big fan of Kofi Annan ("the world's finest statesman", p. 205), the United Nations, the Millennium Development Goals, and outright debt cancellation. He takes to task the IMF and World Bank, the "money doctors" whose tired and predictable prescriptions for third world countries (austerity budgets, curb government spending, eradicate corruption, privatize and liberalize your economy) have done more harm than good. We need fewer platitudes, excuses, and moralizations from Geneva and New York, and more creative generosity, Sachs says. The real menaces are not so much ineptitude, corruption, and laziness but structural problems, geographic isolation, overall vulnerability, and rich-world miserliness. He chides the United States for its short-sighted stinginess. Our development aid has "declined for decades." We insist upon looking for "the cheap way out." We have not actually given what we publicly pledged. In his book's prescription, what it will take from rich nations is but "a mere 7 cents (ie, 0.7 percent of the gross national product) out of every $10 in income." All of our haggling about helping the poor, he observes, concerns less than 1% of rich-world income.
Sachs admits that he is an optimist and an idealist, and that some of his estimates are imprecise. Perhaps he is too enamored by the ostensible benefits of technology and globalization. I am not an economist or development aid specialist, and I can well imagine specialists picking apart details of strategy. But I for one am grateful for an economist of Sachs's stature to use all his powers of persuasion to force this issue into the forefront of public discourse. Whether from compassion, enlightened self-interest, concerns for national security, or adherence to international law (cf. the statements of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on the economic rights of every person), I appreciate that Sachs has spoken up for those who cannot speak for themselves....more info
- oversimplifying the end of poverty?
Looking beyond Sach's anecdotes of his work with the World Bank, the premise of the book is very simple: it offers a diagnosis and solution to extreme poverty. Sachs suggests that poor people are stuck in a "poverty trap". The poor are poor because they do not have sufficient money to save or invest in education, health, or capital, and so they are stuck in a vicious cycle of poverty. As they are stuck in this trap, the solution, then, is help from the outside - large-scale foreign aid. As external aid has had a long history of failed attempts in Africa, Sachs brings in two new alterations: he calls for an increase in the magnitude of aid, as he believes that the failure of past attempts us due to the fact that there was never enough aid given to implement reforms properly to bring about the desired results. He also calls for a narrower focus of aid, suggesting that most of the aid should be directed towards raising living standards and meeting humanitarian needs, through investment in infrastructure and social services.
The strength of Sachs' proposal lies in its clarity of goal (ending extreme poverty by 2025) and the means to achieve them (his poverty-reduction plan), as well as the identification of the costs. It also merits from having a narrow target: Sachs is not eliminating global poverty per se but to alleviate the suffering of the poorest of the poor and helping them escape the poverty trap.
Stylistically, Sachs writes in an enthusiastic and accessible manner. He gives clear explanations of the dynamics that hinder growth, such as geographic disadvantage, disease burden, demographics, geopolitical factors. He uses figures and calculations but always supplement them with comparisons to help us better grasp the their meanings and magnitudes.
While Sachs' proposal is appealing, there are a few problems in his argument in terms of his evidence and his remedy.
Sachs repeatedly cites the Marshall Plan as an example of successful large-scale foreign aid. In reality the Marshall Plan and Sachs' poverty reduction plan differ significantly in nature, relative scale and time frame. Post-war Europe was at a better position than modern-day Africa after decades of foreign aid. Consequently, although the two plans both aim to stimulate economic growth, they are fundamentally different in nature. The Marshall Plan focused on reconstruction of infrastructure and business capital, while Sachs' plan for poverty reduction encompasses investments in human capital, infrastructure and knowledge capital. Also, the Marshall Plan never amounted to more than 3 percent of any recipient economy and only lasted for 4 years. Current average aid flows to African countries is more than 10 percent of GDP, and would be even higher if Sachs' proposal was carried out. These differences mean that it is dangerous to generalize the success of the Marshall Plan to any large-scale foreign aid project.
Sachs also cites successes of a few large-scale health programs, but there is no direct link between these programs and economic growth. On the micro-level, better clinics and health systems do help save lives, but on the macro-level their effect on economic growth is uncertain. While disease impedes economic growth by depleting human capital, it would be a stretch to claim that controlling disease would immediately solve a country's economic problems and catapult it out of the poverty trap.
Perhaps more disappointing than the lack of evidence, is that Sachs' strict focus on the quantity of aid. He neglects to address how to improve the quality of aid (i.e. how to effectively manage aid contributions). In the whole book, Sachs has only provided a brief, one-page description conveying the necessity of "a sound public management plan". This sparse treatment is puzzling, given the frequency of the problems concerning aid mismanagement that have arisen in the past. The World Bank found in Guinea that about 50 percent of public health spending went to the richest fifth of the population and only 5 percent to the poorest fifth. Sachs' failure to incorporate a coherent, effective plan for aid management constitutes a weakness in his proposal and could hobble his plans in the future.
In summary, the biggest flaw in Sachs' plan stems from his tendency to oversimplify issues: the Marshall Plan and public health projects are oversimplified to galvanize support for his claim, and aid management is oversimplified without acknowledging the challenges to effective monitoring and evaluation.
The Bottom Line
"The End of Poverty" is a good introductory guide into many of the issues concerning African development. Despite is tendency to oversimplify, Sachs' easy, anecdotal style, his insights on debt relief and deconstructions of economic myths make it a worthwhile read. Though sometimes Sachs may seem patronizing and egocentric, no one can deny his humanitarian concern for the world's poor. Perhaps Sachs' biggest merit is his optimism and enthusiasm about aid's benefits, which is desperately needed in today's society, especially amidst the crushing global economic crisis. I highly recommend reading the book, but with a critical eye and a little skepticism. For those who want a comprehensive book on development that goes beyond foreign aid, I recommend looking into Paul Collier's "The Bottom Billion".
- Rock Star Economics!
I must start with a disclaimer, I do not mean to say Sachs, Bono and co. is not doing positive things that might help alleviate poverty. But a small possible help is all what Sachs/Bono policies might (or might not) provide.
End of poverty clearly seems too out of scope for anything that Sachs proposes. For example, "The bottom line is quite clear: for just 1% of the US GDP, or a 5% surcharge on families making over $200,000 a year, extreme poverty can be eliminated by the year 2025."
'A country is not a business' that could get all its problems solved by someone plugging in a li'l money. Foreign aid and debt relief is only a band-aid for a grave sickness, but a band-aid it atleast is and must be lauded for that.
Read this book if it might help you get convinced to vote for a govt. that favors debt relief and increased foreign aid et cetera. But donot read it if you want to look for an all encompassing theory for the 'end of poverty' as the title presumptuously claims. For poverty is only a symptom for other deeper malaises that hinder the overall growth of societies. End of poverty will need things that nobody else can do for Africans and must come from within their impoverished home. Foreign govts. and Rockstars cannot end poverty, they could've helped but alas things like birth control, social reforms, literacy drives do not make hip bestselling gestures.
Having said that, if separated from its grandiosely presumptuous claim and title, this book is certainly informative and scholarly....more info
- Read this!
This is one of the best books I've read. As for the edition, the paper is not of the best quality, but it's what you get for such a low price....more info
- Wonderful Book
The End of Poverty is incredible in its depth as well as its ability to help one understand the workings of the world in regards to fighting poverty. Although I disagree with the assessment of the United Nations being the answer to the world's problems, I do believe the methodology is sound. I highly recommend this book....more info
- Not what I thought it would be...in a good way
I don't know why, but my first thought was that this would just be some academic's diatribe about how horrible the world is and how we are horrid people for not doing things about it. Well, this is not diatribe, but we most certainly should call our government to an accounting for allowing these things to happen. The author explains the whole problem quite clearly.
First, the author walks us through different case studies of places that can't seem to break the chain of poverty and places that have succeeded in moving up in the world. In the latter cases, the world benefits from having a country to become more productive.
Second, the author attacks much of the stereotypes we hold about countries with a large part of their population living in extreme poverty. To be honest, I was shocked to read that I hold some of the stereotypes and was completely wrong. I would have to thank Jeffrey Sachs for bringing this to my attention. Countries having trouble with poverty are not countries that don't want to try. Given a chance, the countries would not want handout, but a chance to stand up for themselves.
Third, the author discusses how we can help these countries get a chance. This was perhaps the most depressing to me as an American. As a nation, we have signed many different treaties and accords vowing to donate a very small amount of our GNP (less that what we are spending on our military now) towards helping these countries. To date, my country has reneged on its promise. If we want to live in a world where people are dying for preventable reasons or where radicals attack because they have nothing to lose, then we would simply keep up what we are doing.
I would highly recommend this book. It is quite an eye-opener.
- The best definition and solutions for world poverty
This is the most important book I have read this year. Jeffery Sach's understanding and description of macro- and micro-economics as it applies to those in poverty is outstanding. He not only identifies the problems and dispells myths but provides practical and proven solutions to world poverty. As one of the sponsors of an NGO supporting a school in poverty stricken rural Malawi, Africa, Sach's analysis and advise have proven very helpful. This book should be at the top of anyones reading list who is concerned about world peace, poverty and the role of individuals and Western nations, especially the United States, in solving these problems. ...more info
- thumping is not reading
This book describes one of the screwiest situations in human history. Here it is: About one billion people (1/6 of the Earth's population) live in crushing poverty, without reliable access to food or medical care. A second group of people control most of the Earth's resources, and they have come to power by publicly touting their devotion to a religion whose central message is about fighting poverty. You would think that would be good news, but it's not. The problem is that the people who control everything, despite all the religious jibber-jabber, spend most of their time arguing about whether or not flag-burning and gay marriage should be legal. They also like to blow stuff up.
The odd thing is that fighting poverty is much cheaper than blowing stuff up, and it's not just hippy bumper stickers that say so. Jeffrey Sachs estimates the cost of ending extreme poverty at a small fraction of the GDP of the richest nations. He also debunks many of the most common excuses (corruption, culture, infrastructure) that people use to justify the lack of financial aid. These excuses generally explain why the situation is complicated, but not why it is unresolvable. This complexity partially explains why aid to the poor is so seldom discussed in American politics, which has all the nuance of professional wrestling without the speedos.
The complex nature of the problem just means that monetary contributions are necessary but not sufficient. What is also needed is a serious plan to get the job done, and The End of Poverty presents a reasonable first draft. The Plan probably won't work exactly as stated (see William Easterly), but I don't see why the endeavour has to be more complicated than building a space shuttle would have seemed fifty years ago....more info
- Inspiring, Intriguing, Engrossing
If you are like me, you may often worry about the poor and the underprivileged across the world. You may wonder what it would take to help them achieve sustainable livelihoods which is the first step to ending poverty for them. You may even be wondering what role you could play in ending poverty in this world. Well, look no further because here is the book that is a must-read for anyone concerned about global poverty and how to overcome it - "The End of Poverty" by Dr. Jeffery Sachs. Dr. Sachs, one of the leading economists of our times makes this book comprehensible for everyone even if you are not an economist. And what is even more wonderful is that he backs up most of his claims with well-grounded research and reasoning.
The book mainly talks about overcoming extreme poverty. Dr. Sachs defines a person as extremely poor if he/she cannot meet basic needs required for survival. He says that the extremely poor "are chronically hungry, unable to access health care, lack the amenities of safe drinking water, and sanitation, cannot afford education for some or all of the children and perhaps lack rudimentary shelter [..] and basic articles of clothing such as shoes. Unlike moderate and relative poverty, extreme poverty occurs only in developing countries." And 93% of the world's extremely poor live in East Asia, South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.
Of course, when a country grows economically, it has a direct effect on reducing the extremely poor in that country. But the reason, that many of the countries have not been able to achieve the expected economic growth, as many statistical studies have shown, is due to a multiplicity of factors including fertility rates, education levels, diseases, trade policies and even climate and proximity to markets, some of which are not under the control of the governments of these countries .
As part of the U.N initiated Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the developed countries committed to contributing 0.7 percent of GNP every year to help the developing countries eradicate extreme poverty by the year 2025 through investments that contribute to sustained economic growth. By presenting a thorough analysis, Dr. Sachs shows that this is adequate money to reach the goal of ending extreme poverty by 2025. So, you may now be wondering where is the problem.
As Dr. Sachs skillfully presents in the book, the problem lies in the fact that the developed world has not kept it's promise although they make it sound that they are doing their best. So, the book is dedicated to making the case to convince the developed world, as to why they should keep their promise, why helping the developing countries eradicate extreme poverty is not just the right thing to do morally but also why it would benefit the developed world in the long term much more than many of the current foreign policies that are on the table. In the process, Dr. Sachs takes institutions like IMF, WorldBank and even the US federal government head-on. He even answers many questions and criticisms about his ideas and theories. On the whole, he makes the book a very engrossing, intriguing and inspiring read. At the end of it, you may even walk away with ideas on how you could help combat global poverty.
- Not convincing
Sachs proceeds from the assumption that every human being on the planet, in virtue of having been born, has a fundamental right to clean water, food, clothing, housing, health care and education, even if neither he nor his parents ever make any attempt to work. He then says that if we ensure that everyone on the planet has all of these things, they will naturally save enough, and therefore invest enough, to grow their local economies. He notes with dismay that most rich countries have given up on aid to the extreme poor, saying "trade not aid" and generally pinching pennies.
One reason this 396-page book isn't more convincing is that Sachs cannot come up with a single example of a country that has been lifted out of poverty by foreign aid. He talks about saving Russia with financial engineering, but Russia's clever people were making jet fighters, atomic bombs, and helicopters long before they ever met Sachs. He talks about the Marshall Plan for post-WWII Germany, but Germany didn't suffer from overpopulation and the lack of education that plague modern poor countries; investing in folks that had conquered France in six weeks probably did not seem very risky, particularly when one aim was to build up Germany's power as a bulwark against the Soviets.
Sachs fails to devote even one sentence to the modern fact that labor is mobile and global. Transportation and communication costs fall every decade. An ambitious, hard-working, intelligent, and well-educated person has never had an easier time moving from a poor country to a rich country. Sachs talks about building medical schools in Africa so that doctors and nurses will be plentiful, not noting that the U.S. has jobs for perhaps 200,000 more doctors than U.S. medical schools are going to graduate in the next decade or so. If Sachs is going to pay doctors in poor countries a U.S. doctor's salary, his program to deliver high quality health care to every poor person is going to cost a lot more $250 billion/year. If he isn't going to pay a competitive salary, why wouldn't these smart educated folks simply emigrate to where the good jobs are?
This book may provide some cheer to people who already believe in foreign aid, but it won't convince the skeptics who are currently holding the purse strings....more info
- Must Read for our times
While I don't agree with everything he says, and it's important to get both sides, Sachs' book is compelling and important. Dense and somewhat difficult to read, the book requires that you take your time....more info
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