Thursday, January 09, 2014

The path to development isn't a series of technical solutions

Writing in Reason, William Easterly continues to bury Jeffrey Sachs and his ideas on development culminating in the Millenium Villages - read the whole thing:

Jeffrey Sachs' formula for ending poverty was appealingly simple. All the problems of poverty, the famous Columbia University economist argued, had discrete technological fixes. Bed nets could prevent malaria-spreading mosquito bites. Wells could provide clean water. Hospitals could treat curable diseases. Fertilizer could increase yields of food crops.

Ending poverty, therefore, was just a matter of raising enough money to pay for the right combination of known technical solutions to poor people's problems. Sachs would provide a slam-dunk demonstration project by deploying these comprehensive tech fixes in a dozen or so "Millennium Villages" in Africa. Success would build upon success, and advocacy money would flow, until poverty was eliminated from the poorest continent.
It didn't quite work out that way.

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