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About William Russell Easterly
Erratum: The above bio contains one factual mistake due to careless proofreading. He is not really the baseball columnist for L'Osservatore Romano.
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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.
In The Tyranny of Experts, renowned economist William Easterly examines our failing efforts to fight global poverty, and argues that the "expert approved" top-down approach to development has not only made little lasting progress, but has proven a convenient rationale for decades of human rights violations perpetrated by colonialists, postcolonial dictators, and US and UK foreign policymakers seeking autocratic allies. Demonstrating how our traditional antipoverty tactics have both trampled the freedom of the world's poor and suppressed a vital debate about alternative approaches to solving poverty, Easterly presents a devastating critique of the blighted record of authoritarian development. In this masterful work, Easterly reveals the fundamental errors inherent in our traditional approach and offers new principles for Western agencies and developing countries alike: principles that, because they are predicated on respect for the rights of poor people, have the power to end global poverty once and for all.
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. Attempted remedies have included providing foreign aid, investing in machines, fostering education, controlling population growth, and making aid loans as well as forgiving those loans on condition of reforms. None of these solutions has delivered as promised. The problem is not the failure of economics, William Easterly argues, but the failure to apply economic principles to practical policy work.
In this book Easterly shows how these solutions all violate the basic principle of economics, that people—private individuals and businesses, government officials, even aid donors—respond to incentives. Easterly first discusses the importance of growth. He then analyzes the development solutions that have failed. Finally, he suggests alternative approaches to the problem. 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? 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'tin 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 approachfocusing 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.
Contributors include Nana Ashraf (Harvard Business School), Abhijit Banerjee (MIT), Nancy Birdsall (Center for Global Development), Anne Case (Princeton University), Jessica Cohen (Brookings),William Easterly (NYU and Brookings),Alaka Halla (Innovations for Poverty Action), Ricardo Hausman (Harvard University), Simon Johnson (MIT), Peter Klenow (Stanford University), Michael Kremer (Harvard), Ross Levine (Brown University), Sendhil Mullainathan (Harvard), Ben Olken (MIT), Lant Pritchett (Harvard), Martin Ravallion (World Bank), Dani Rodrik (Harvard), Paul Romer (Stanford University), and DavidWeil (Brown).