‘The End of Poverty’ Reaction Paper

‘The End of Poverty’ by Jeffrey Sachs is a lively manuscript filled with moving accounts, explanations, experiences, and numerical figures used by the author to summarize the economic development and poverty in different countries. Sachs points out right away in his introduction, that he isn’t predicting what will happen, only what can happen (p.g.1). Chapter one discusses what ascending the ladder of economic development is. This ladder has rungs to climb; the higher a country climbs, the higher its path to economic well-being. He further explains that there are varying degrees of poverty. He explains that there is extreme poverty, moderate poverty, and relative poverty. It is the extreme poverty that should be eliminated. No country should go without basic living necessities such as in Malawi. The village of Malawi in Africa is very impoverished and is caught in this poverty trap. Malawians live in devastation from Aids, malaria, and other diseases and have no medicine because they barely live on a dollar a day. Malawi is considered to be in the lowest level of economic development and hasn’t even begun to climb the first rung on the ladder to economic well-being. There are 1.5 billion in Bangladesh and while it isn’t as impoverished as Malawi, it is still living in poverty. In Bangladesh, females labor in sweatshops 12 hours a day and there are micro-financed and loan businesses that help people. Because of these opportunities they are considered to have climbed the first rung on the ladder of economic development. India is a few more rungs up the ladder because of its IT revolution. People have migrated to the city because the IT revolution has created jobs. They’re earning $250 to $500 a month and India is considered to be middle income (not to be mistaken with middle-class). Then there’s China: The Rise of Affluence! China has been successful in innovation and business, unlike Malawi, where there is no innovation. In fact, Sachs mentions that it was in Beijing he first noticed camera phones. While there are still millions in China living in poverty, many parts are becoming very developed. Most of the poor live in three different regions: East Asia, South Asia, and Sub-Saharan Africa. Sachs says that extreme poverty can be eliminated in our lifetime, by 2025 with the help of rich countries.
In chapter two, Sachs emphasizes in world population development. After 1820, population and economic growth began to really take off but at different rates for different countries. In the United States, for example, there was a constant rate of growth of 1.7 % each year two hundred years becoming a wealthy country. Africa, on the contrary had a growth rate of only 0.7 %. Today’s inequality is as follows: one sixth of population lives in extreme poverty, two-thirds are middle income status, and one-sixth lives in high income. The reason why Britain has taken off quickly is due to social, political, and geographical factors. Hierarchies were more flexible, there was individualism, and there was coal as the energy that fueled to great industrial revolution. Sachs considered this ‘The Great Transformation’. Certainly, along with great economic success came inequality, racism, and exploitation of those in poverty. While the west nations evolved from innovation it led to great wealth leading to more innovation creating a cycle of continuous success. Then there’s certain countries like Sub-Saharan Africa that failed to develop and remained very much impoverished, but why?
Sachs most common explanation for why countries fail to achieve economic growth often focuses on the faults of the poor: poverty is a result of corrupt leadership and retrograde cultures that impede modern development (pg. 56). Sachs suggests eight different things that can prevent
a country from developing, which include:
1. The Poverty Trap – Poverty itself as a cause of economic stagnation – Poverty itself is a trap. In extreme poverty, the poor are incapable of climbing the ladder to economic development (without the help of rich countries).
2. Physical geography - For example, a country could be ‘landlocked’ and unable to transport and /or Sub-Saharan Africa being infested by mosquitoes carrying malaria because of the climate making it easy to breed.
3. Fiscal Trap - The governments in a fiscal trap are due to being poor or corrupt and