For several weeks we have looked into the different reasons poverty has come about. There are several different “poverty traps” that countries fall into such as poor education or health or politics. Poor Economics refers to this trend as the S curve. The people on the left are the individuals often caught in these traps. The people on the right prosper. The according to the Poverty Trap Theory, the only ones to move are the individuals right around the middle, where the curves transition.
There is no denying the fact that there is an overwhelming amount of people considered poor. There is also no denying that a majority of the poor do not move out of the lives they live. Some of which simply cannot move up. Some of which do not want to change the way they live.
The question then is how to solve the problem, as we have been looking at for the past four or five weeks. Sachs’ main argument is to bring in outside stimulation. He believes that the problem could be solved if an outsider came in and taught the locals how to make a better living. Teach the local population how to farm more efficiently, for example, and they will then be able to make a better living and escape the poverty trap. Easterly does not quite agree. In his opinion, nothing will change unless the idea for reform comes from the local population. No matter how much money is given to jumpstart a program, it will not stick unless the people take hold and make it their own.
Between the two, I find myself agreeing more with Easterly. Many people simply do not enjoy being told what to do. We think, as humans, that our way is the best way. Of course, we enjoy free money and will participate in any organization that NGOs set up as long as we were paid to do so. However, after the money stops we are more likely to revert back into our own ways. In some ways, the local population needs to be aware of the malpractice going on. Education of the proper way, as Sachs suggests should not be thrown to the side.
In other words, there needs to be a balance between the two. It is extremely important that the local population is informed about the corruption in their society. In some cases, this is enough for the population to want a change. For some cases, the local population needs proof that the new way is better.
For the next point, here is a review of SDG Goal #1: End poverty in all forms everywhere and SDG Goal #2: End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture.
Both of these goals are touched on in Poor Economics by Banerjee and Duflo. They both provide several examples of research in poor economies and how they worked or did not work. I appreciated the details of the research. There were names and specific cases to support each side of the debate. However, to some degree there were too many cases. The names and countries became muddled and hard to keep track of. Each example is a case study. In some countries, direct funding seemed to work to support more hospitals. In another country, interfering with the attendance of the clinic nurses actually made the system worse.
There are no over arching sets of data to show how any one method has helped around the world. Although we see similar trends in multiple countries, the reasons behind them vary so that there is no blanket solution. Poor Economics did a wonderful job at pointing out the problems and a few select cases that improved, but lacked evidence to show a solution for the world.