By Winston Hottman
What keeps the poorest of the poor stuck in poverty? In an article at First Things, George Weigel summarizes four root causes, as identified in a book by Paul Colliers, The Bottom Billion:
Collier, who studied the varying impacts of development assistance at the World Bank before teaching economics at Oxford, lists four traps that hold the bottom billion down. There is the natural resource trap, in which oil, minerals, or other marketable resources make a few oligarchs and politicians rich but deflect a countrys attention from pursuing the human and material infrastructure of genuine economic development. There is the conflict trap, in which countries are destroyed, economically, by civil wars and/or genocides. There is the bad governance trap, in which corruption and misgovernance waste development aid and make it impossible for investment to flourish (given what amounts to endemic lawlessness). And there is the curse of geography, by which landlocked countries in a bad neighborhood find their commerce and communications strangled.
Consequently, the fight against global poverty will require more than just foreign aid. Foreign policy initiatives that help societies to overcome these four obstacles, assimilate into the global economy, and build infrastructures that can begin to produce for themselves will help to generate the kind of long term development that is necessary to benefit those in abject poverty.
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