Saturday, October 30, 2004

Save the World

With much of Asia coming out of extreme poverty, many have asked, "what to do about sub-Saharan Africa?"

The Economist ("How to save the world", Oct. 30) cites recent work by Jeffrey Sachs that suggests $75 billion a year of aid.

Yet, Peter Bauer and others have pointed to the obvious fact that government-to-government aid has never paid off. Sachs, of course, knows this but suggests that aid with conditions can work. He even suggests that relatively uncorrupt Ethiopia be used as a trial case.

Africans outside of Africa do relatively well, just as Chinese expatriates and Indian expatriates had done much better than their stay-at-home countrymen. These comparisons are, of course, complicated by powerful emigration selection effects.

Nevertheless, the failed states of Africa beget civil wars and banditry which, in turn, spawn chaos and misery.

Iraq was to be the demonstration of deomocratic institutions -- and development -- imposed via invasion. Demonstrations, perhaps like Ethiopia, where investments and incentives can plausibly beget reform and development might accompany the Iraq mission. It could even involve the high-minded Europeans.

It would be awful if both fail.