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Study Notes

What are the main arguments put forward in Collier's "The Bottom Billion"?

A-Level, IB
AQA, Edexcel, OCR, IB, Eduqas, WJEC

Last updated 1 Feb 2023

This study note summarises some of the key arguments developed in Collier's famous work on economic development - the Bottom Billion

  • "The Bottom Billion" by Paul Collier argues that the world's poorest countries, collectively referred to as "the bottom billion," are trapped in a vicious cycle of poverty and conflict.
  • Collier argues that there are four main traps that keep these countries trapped in poverty: the conflict trap, the natural resource trap, the trap of being landlocked with bad neighbours, and the trap of bad governance in a small country.
  • He argues that these traps can only be broken by external intervention and that developed countries have a moral obligation to provide this assistance.
  • Targeted aid, peacekeeping, and investment in infrastructure are crucial to breaking these traps and lifting the bottom billion out of poverty
  • Traditional development strategies have not worked for the bottom billion and a new approach is needed to address their unique challenges and needs.
  • The book suggests a range of policy interventions, including targeted aid, peacekeeping, and investment in infrastructure, to help lift these countries out of poverty.

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