In Time Magazine verscheen vorige week een uitgebreide samenvatting van een boek van vooraanstaand econoom Jeffrey Sachs, The End of Poverty: Economic Possibilities for Our Time (de registratie van Time is alhier te omzeilen). Sachs betoogt kort gezegd:
Africa, through no fault of its own, is trapped. Held back by geographical impediments like climate, disease and isolation, it cannot lift itself out of poverty. What Africa needs, then, is not more scolding from the West. It needs a ”big push” — a flood of foreign aid — to boost its prospects and carry it into the developed world.
Met 150 miljard dollar zou zo’n boost gegeven kunnen worden volgens de auteur. Het artikel heeft inmiddels de nodige kritiek ontvangen.
…[Sachs] seems unaware that his Big Plan is strikingly similar to the early ideas that inspired foreign aid in the 1950s and ’60s. Just like Sachs, development planners then identified countries caught in a “poverty trap,” did an assessment of how much they would need to make a “big push” out of poverty and into growth, and called upon foreign aid to fill the “financing gap” between countries’ own resources and needs. …Spending $2.3 trillion (measured in today’s dollars) in aid over the past five decades has left the most aid-intensive regions, like Africa, wallowing in continued stagnation; it’s fair to say this approach has not been a great success. (By the way, utopian social engineering does not just fail for the left; in Iraq, it’s not working too well now for the right either.)
Meanwhile, some piecemeal interventions have brought success. Vaccination campaigns, oral rehydration therapy to prevent diarrhea and other aid-financed health programs have likely contributed to a fall in infant mortality in every region, including Africa.
…the broader development successes of recent decades, most of them in Asia, happened without the Big Plan — and without significant foreign aid as a proportion of the recipient country’s income….
Libertarier Tyler Cowen wil vanwege de status van Sachs het plan niet afbranden voordat hij het boek heeft gelezen, maar is vooralsnog niet overtuigd:
Whatever we are going to spend fighting international poverty, I would spend on freer immigration, keeping in mind that ongoing remittances will kick in over time. We also could send a small military mission to Darfur, and focus our aid on one “doable” country or region. I am a believer in demonstration effects; get it right once, and the world will beat a path to your door.
[Meer bij Daniel W. Drezner]