The Tyranny of Experts (2014)
Over the last century, global poverty has largely been viewed as a technical problem that merely requires the right “expert” solutions. Yet all too often, experts recommend solutions that fix immediate problems without addressing the systemic political factors that created them in the first place. Further, they produce an accidental collusion with “benevolent autocrats,” leaving dictators with yet more power to violate the rights of the poor.
In The Tyranny of Experts, economist William Easterly, bestselling author of The White Man’s Burden, traces the history of the fight against global poverty, showing not only how these tactics have trampled the individual freedom of the world’s poor, but how in doing so have suppressed a vital debate about an alternative approach to solving poverty: freedom. Presenting a wealth of cutting-edge economic research, Easterly argues that only a new model of development—one predicated on respect for the individual rights of people in developing countries, that understands that unchecked state power is the problem and not the solution —will be capable of ending global poverty once and for all.
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The White Man’s Burden (2006)
From one of the world’s best-known development economists—an excoriating attack on the tragic hubris of the West’s efforts to improve the lot of the so-called developing world.
In his previous book, The Elusive Quest for Growth, William Easterly criticized the utter ineffectiveness of Western organizations to mitigate global poverty, and he was promptly fired by his then-employer, the World Bank. The White Man’s Burden is his widely anticipated counterpunch—a brilliant and blistering indictment of the West’s economic policies for the world’s poor. Sometimes angry, sometimes irreverent, but always clear-eyed and rigorous, Easterly argues that we in the West need to face our own history of ineptitude and draw the proper conclusions, especially at a time when the question of our ability to transplant Western institutions has become one of the most pressing issues we face.
The Elusive Quest for Growth (2002)
Since the end of World War II, economists have tried to figure out how poor countries in the tropics could attain standards of living approaching those of countries in Europe and North America. A myriad of remedies has not delivered the solutions promised. The problem is not the failure of economics, William Easterly argues, but the failure to apply economic principle to practical policy work. In this book, Easterly shows how these solutions all violate the basic principles of economics, that people-private individuals and businesses, government officials, even aid donors – respond to incentives. Written in an accessible, at times irreverent, style, Easterly’s book combines modern growth theory with anecdotes from his fieldwork for the World Bank.
What Works in Development: Thinking Big and Thinking Small (2009)
Edited by William Easterly and Jessica Cohen
What Works in Development? brings together leading experts to address one of the most basic yet vexing issues in development: what do we really know about what works – and what doesn’t – in fighting global poverty?
The contributors, including many of the world’s most respected economic development analysts, focus on the ongoing debate over which paths to development truly maximize results. Should we emphasize a big-picture approach — focusing on the role of institutions, macroeconomic policies, growth strategies, and other country-level factors? Or is a more grassroots approach the way to go, with the focus on particular microeconomic interventions such as conditional cash transfers, bed nets, and other microlevel improvements in service delivery on the ground? The book attempts to find a consensus on which approach is likely to be more effective.
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Reinventing Foreign Aid (2008)
Edited by William Easterly
The urgency of reducing poverty in the developing world has been the subject of a public campaign by such unlikely policy experts as George Clooney, Alicia Keyes, Elton John, Angelina Jolie, and Bono. And yet accompanying the call for more foreign aid is an almost universal discontent with the effectiveness of the existing aid system. In Reinventing Foreign Aid, development expert William Easterly has gathered top scholars in the field to discuss how to improve foreign aid. These authors, Easterly points out, are not claiming that their ideas will (to invoke a current slogan) Make Poverty History. Rather, they take on specific problems and propose some hard-headed solutions.
Easterly himself, in an expansive and impassioned introductory chapter, makes a case for the “searchers”—who explore solutions by trial and error and learn from feedback—over the “planners”—who throw an endless supply of resources at a big goal—as the most likely to reduce poverty. Other writers look at scientific evaluation of aid projects (including randomized trials) and describe projects found to be cost-effective, including vaccine delivery and HIV education; consider how to deal with the government of the recipient state (work through it or bypass a possibly dysfunctional government?); examine the roles of the International Monetary Fund (a de facto aid provider) and the World Bank; and analyze some new and innovative proposals for distributing aid.
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The Limits of Stabilization: Infrastructure and Fiscal Adjustment in Latin America (2003)
Edited by William Easterly and Luis Serven
Latin America’s macroeconomic crises of the 1980s and ‘90s forced a severe fiscal adjustment across the region. More often than not, fiscal stability was achieved at the cost of a drastic compression of public infrastructure spending, accompanied by the hope that the private sector would take the leading role in infrastructure provision.
This book documents the major trends in infrastructure provision in Latin America over the past two decades in order to assess the consequences of this changed public-private partnership from the perspective of economic growth, public finances, and the quantity and quality of infrastructure services. It will be of particular interest to those in the fields of infrastructure, fiscal policy, and economic growth, and anyone concerned with Latin America’s development.