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The White Man's Burden


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Table of Contents

1: Planners Versus Searchers Why Planners Cannot Bring Prosperity 2: The Legend of the Big Push 3: You Can't Plan a Market 4: Planners and Gangsters Acting Out the Burden 5: The Rich Have Markets, the Poor Have Bureaucrats 6: Bailing Out the Poor 7: The Healers: Triumph and Tragedy The White Man's Army 8: From Colonialism to Postmodern Imperialism 9: Invading the Poor The Future 10: Homegrown Development 11: The Future of Western Assistance

About the Author

William Easterly is Professor of Economics at New York University and a senior fellow at the Center for Global Development. He was a senior research economist at the World Bank for more than sixteen years. In addition to his academic work, he has written widely in recent years in The New York Times, The Independent, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, the Financial Times, Forbes, and Foreign Policy, among others. He is author of the acclaimed book The Elusive Quest for Growth and has worked in many areas of the developing world, most extensively in Africa, Latin America, and Russia.


According to this former World Bank research economist, the $2.3 trillion in aid that the West has poured into the Third World over 50 years hasn't helped because the approach is all wrong. The recipients have a better idea of what is needed than the planners. Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

Included as a Book of the Year 2006 in the Economist, the Financial Times, and the Washington Post `"The White Man's Burden," like "The Elusive Quest for Growth," is an important book. Easterly asks the right questions, combining compassion with clear-eyed empiricism. Bono and his devotees should heed what he has to say.' Virginia Postrel, The New York Times Book Review `There is much of merit in Easterly's perceptive vision about initiatives, incentives, and communication. We should be grateful to Easterly for the wealth of material he has presented, thereby enriching the development literature.' Amartya Sen, Foreign Affairs `The White Man's Burden is disturbing but essential reading for would-be Samaritans -- and a powerful call for reform.' Business Week `His timely critique of development aid... provides no easy answers, which is [its] great virtue.' Salil Tripathi, The Independent `A comprehensive exploration.' Edmund Conway, Daily Telegraph

No one who attacks the humanitarian aid establishment is going to win any popularity contests, but, neither, it seems, is that establishment winning any contests with the people it is supposed to be helping. Easterly, an NYU economics professor and a former research economist at the World Bank, brazenly contends that the West has failed, and continues to fail, to enact its ill-formed, utopian aid plans because, like the colonialists of old, it assumes it knows what is best for everyone. Existing aid strategies, Easterly argues, provide neither accountability nor feedback. Without accountability for failures, he says, broken economic systems are never fixed. And without feedback from the poor who need the aid, no one in charge really understands exactly what trouble spots need fixing. True victories against poverty, he demonstrates, are most often achieved through indigenous, ground-level planning. Except in its early chapters, where Easterly builds his strategic platform atop a tower of statistical analyses, the book's wry, cynical prose is highly accessible. Readers will come away with a clear sense of how orthodox methods of poverty reduction do not help, and can sometimes worsen, poor economies. (Mar. 20) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

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