(Note: This is a guest post by Feyza Ileri, who was a student in my development seminar last fall. Feyza took a course titled “Current Issues in International Trade and Economic Development” in the Department of Economics with my colleague Ed Tower. This book review was one of her assignments for Ed’s course.)
Catching Up: What LDCs Can Do and What Others Can Help
Paul Collier, Published by Commonwealth Secretariat, February 2011
80 pages, $24.95
Paul Collier, professor of economics and director of the Centre for the Study of African Economies at Oxford, has written a number of engaging and provocative books on development. Catching Up is one such book. The book focuses on the least developed countries (LDCs) and suggests a number of development strategies for the governments of those countries.
Although the LDCs’ share of the world’s population is around 12 percent, they account for less than 2 per cent of the world’s GDP. Taking this into consideration, Collier presents a guide for decision makers who aim to make LDCs attain and sustain a significant rate of growth and catch up with the middle income developing countries.
The book indicates that for the 2000-2008 period, the LDCs achieved and a 4-percent increase on average in GDP per capita GDP, an 11-percent decrease in mortality. Despite these improvements, since other developing countries have grown faster, the income differential between the LDCs and other developing countries has widened and is still widening. Moreover, Collier believes that governments hold the authority and credibility to force change. He thus offers concrete recommendations for the governments of the LDCs.
One striking point in Collier’s book is related to energy. The growth in the world economy has driven up the demand for energy. Therefore, the existence of natural resources is one of the most important opportunities for the improvement in the LDCs, Collier says. The book concentrates on the importance of investment in extraction and suggests sale of resource extraction rights in exchange for infrastructure or aid by donors. Continue reading