Book Review: The Bottom Billion by Paul Collier

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Paul Collier’s book is about the future of the world. Most of the world is on the positive trajectory set by growth and prosperity. The 21st Century is the age of the middle class. For most of the world, things are looking up. However, Collier is concerned with a group of countries that are not part of this trajectory. Collier is concerned with approximately 58 countries that constitute about one billion people, or 20 percent of the earth’s population (Collier 7). This “bottom billion” group belongs to countries that are not progressing with the rest of the world’s pace; in fact, they seem to be diverging and falling apart when everyone else around them are growing. The purpose of the book is to show these countries are, in fact, …show more content…
If Collier’s recommendations for reversal of decline are to have any weight, then these traps must be escapable, and they are (albeit very difficult to escape). However, many countries are finding once they escape these traps, they are trying to enter a global market that is already very productive and not easy for new countries to enter (Collier 6). However, despite Collier’s suggestions to reform the bottom billion, he acknowledges the fact that “The societies of the bottom billion can only be rescued from within” (Collier 96). Therefore, he creates instruments that the successful nations (specifically the G8 is his target audience) can implement to ensure the bottom billion are set up for success and able to reform their own countries into growing economies. The four instruments Collier suggests are aid, military intervention, laws and charters to standardize emerging markets, and trade reforms to ease transition into the global market (Collier Part 4). The international relations theory behind Collier’s argument is an interesting mix between realism and idealism. The realist portion is supported by Collier’s argument that the bottom billion pose a very real security and economic drain against the rest of the world. Outside investors (and even internal investors) have not directed capital towards these countries due to the fact that the risk of these countries, be it returned or perceived, is very high

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