The literature on international development is generally pretty pessimistic, perhaps because the problems are so daunting and difficult to address, failures have such enormous consequences for poor people, and governments give this issue low priority. Recent books and articles have been particularly critical, as many writers have focused on the amount of money spent on development—some $2.7 trillion during the past forty years—with few results to show for the expenditures.
William Easterly’s the White Man’s Burden:Why the West’s Efforts to Aid the Rest Have Done so Much Ill and So Little Good blames the failure on utopian goals that are pursued through very complex top-down efforts that lack accountability. Lawrence Harrison’s the Central Liberal Truth: How Politics Can Change a Culture and Save It From Itself argues that development fails for a lack of cultural changes that promote good governance, education, savings, and investments. Paul Collier’s the Bottom Billion: Why the Poorest Countries Are Failing and What Can Be Done About It suggests that the real crisis in development is the fifty or so nations, home to the billion poorest people of the world, that are caught up in a set of traps, such as civil war, dependence on the export of natural resources, and corrupt or ineffective government. Jeffrey Sach’s the End of Poverty: Economic Possibilities for Our Time also focuses on the poorest one billion who live in areas that lack basic infrastructure, such as roads, electricity, and human capital from investments in health and education, that make it impossible for them to compete in labor markets.