A GREAT ECONOMIST GOES ON THE FIELD TO UNDERSTAND POVERTY, July 23, 2006
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.