Can the West Help the Rest? A Review Essay of Sachs’ the End of Poverty and Easterly’s the White Man’s Burden
The Journal of Private Enterprise, Vol. 25, No. 1, pp. 125-140, 2009
17 Pages Posted: 19 Nov 2010
Date Written: January 1, 2009
The rival opinions expressed by Jeffrey Sachs in his book The End of Poverty and by William Easterly in The White Man’s Burden epitomize the dichotomy in the economics literature regarding the role of foreign aid in eliminating extreme poverty. On the one hand, the majority of governments see aid as a solution to ending poverty in developing countries. On the other hand, a growing body of research rejects the simple notion that aid leads to growth. This paper explores both Sachs’ and Easterly’s conclusions as a way of framing the contemporary debate on foreign aid and its role in alleviating poverty. Although The End of Poverty and The White Man’s Burden raise interesting questions about the West’s obligation to the Rest, there are problems with both of their analyses of past aid efforts and with the policy prescriptions that they advocate. Given the failure of decades of aid efforts, and recent studies demonstrating that foreign aid can actually retard economic growth in recipient countries, there is reason to be skeptical that we in the West can do much to help those in the Rest.
Keywords: Foreign Aid, Poverty, Developing Countries, Sachs, Easterly
JEL Classification: F350, I300, O190
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation