The Bottom Billion: Why the Poorest Countries Are Failing and What Can be done About It
Author: Paul Collier
Published by Oxford University Press
Year: 2008
Gelber Prize Winner
In The Bottom Billion, Collier sees 980 million people around the globe living in “trapped countries clearly heading towards a black hole.” Many of these people are in Africa, but there are large pockets of severe poverty in such places as Bolivia, Cambodia, East Timor, Haiti, Laos, North Korea, Myanmar, Yemen, and elsewhere. Collier asserts the challenge of lifting them out of poverty is akin to rebuilding Europe after World War II, requiring not only immediate aid but also trade and security effectively promoted by such multilateral institutions as the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, North Atlantic Treaty Organization, and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development. The sad fact of the new millennium, Collier writes, is that, even as rich countries are getting richer, the bottom billion is sinking into intractable poverty that will have disastrous consequences for future generations. Solving the poverty puzzle, Collier contends, will require practical—and sometimes controversial—policies, including the use of selective military interventions to resolve costly civil wars and corrupt governance.
Lionel Gelber Prize Lecture and Award Ceremony | 2008