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The End of Poverty: Economic Possibilities for Our Time


Edited by Scott Moyers

New York Times Bestseller

A landmark exploration of the roots of economic prosperity and the path out of extreme poverty for the world’s poorest citizens.

Hailed by TIME as one of the world’s 100 Most Influential People, Jeffrey Sachs is world-renowned for his work around the globe advising economies in crisis. He has advised a broad range of world leaders and international institutions on the challenges of hyperinflation, disease, post-communist transition, and extreme poverty. Now, at last, he draws on all he has learned from his twenty-five-years of work to offer a uniquely informed vision of the keys to economic success in the world today and the steps that are necessary to achieve prosperity for all.

Marrying vivid, passionate storytelling with profound, rigorous analysis, Jeffrey Sachs first lays out in The End of Poverty a clear conceptual map of the world economy. He explains why, over the past two hundred years, wealth has diverged across the planet and why the poorest nations have so far been unable to improve their lot. He explains how to arrive at an in-depth diagnosis of a country’s economic challenges and the options it faces. He leads readers along the same learning path he himself followed, telling the stories of his own work in Bolivia, Poland, Russia, India, China, and Africa as a way to bring readers with him to a deep understanding of the challenges faced by developing countries in different parts of the world. Finally, he offers an integrated set of solutions to the interwoven economic, political, environmental, and social problems that most challenge the world’s poorest societies and, indeed, the world.

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Praise

“Book and man are brilliant, passionate, optimistic and impatient…Outstanding.” —The Economist

“Sensible, often brilliant analysis of poverty’s root causes and potential solutions…The End of Poverty is superb when describing the dire circumstances of the 1 billion people subsisting on less than $1 a day.  It is hard not to share Sachs’s anger after reading his firsthand reporting on the miserly Western aid to African villages ravaged by AIDS, malaria, and hunger.” Businessweek

“[Paul Wolfowitz] should read Jeffrey Sachs’s compelling new book, The End of Poverty. Sachs, a distinguished economist who has spend the last three decades working with governments around the world, explains that none of these conventional wisdoms gets it right.  Much foreign aid has been very well spend and led to landmark results.” Newsweek

“Sachs must be commended for trying to hold rich nations to their promises, and for reminding his countrymen that military action is not the only way to export American values.” The New Yorker

“In [The End of Poverty], renowned economist Jeffrey Sachs explains, offers solutions to end extreme poverty by 2025 and, amazingly, leaves you feeling hopeful rather than guilty.” The Seattle Times

“…An intriguing mix of memoir, economics text, and polemic…more people should read this book.” Salon

“If there is any one work to put extreme poverty back onto the global agenda, this is it.” Publishers Weekly (starred)

“This is an excellent, understandable book on a critical topic and should be required reading for students and participants in public policy as well as those who doubt the problem of world poverty can be solved.” —Mary WhaleyBooklist

“Professor Sachs has provided a compelling blueprint for eliminating extreme poverty from the world by 2025. Sachs’s analysis and proposals are suffused with all the practical experience of his twenty years in the field—working in dozens of countries across the globe to foster economic development and well-being.” —George Soros, financier and philanthropist

“Sachs proposes a many-pronged, needs-based attack…that is eminently practical and minimally pipe-dreamy…A solid, reasonable argument in which the dismal science offers a brightening prospect for the world’s poor.” Kirkus Reviews

Author Q&A

Excerpt

The path from poverty to development has come incredibly fast in the span of human history. Two hundred years ago, the idea that we could potentially achieve the end of poverty would have been unimaginable. Just about everybody was poor with the exception of a very small minority of royals and landed gentry. Life was as difficult in much of Europe as it was in India or China. With very few exceptions, your great-great-grandparents were poor and most likely living on the farm. One leading economic historian, Angus Maddison, puts the average income per person in Western Europe in 1820 at around 90 percent of the average income of sub-Saharan Africa today. Life expectancy in Western Europe and Japan as of 1800 was probably about forty years.

There was little sense a few centuries ago of vast divides in wealth and poverty around the world. China, India, Europe, and Japan all had similar income levels at the time of European discoveries of the sea routes to Asia, Africa, and the Americas. Marco Polo, of course, marveled at the sumptuous wonders of China, not at its poverty. Cortés and his conquistadores expressed astonishment at the riches of Tenochtitlán, the capital of the Aztecs. The early Portuguese explorers in Africa were impressed with the well-ordered towns in West Africa.

Until the mid-1700s, the world was remarkably poor by any of today’s standards. Life expectancy was extremely low; children died in vast numbers in the now rich countries as well as the poor countries. Disease and epidemics, not just the black death of Europe, but many waves of disease, from smallpox and measles to other epidemics, regularly washed through society and killed mass numbers of people. Episodes of hunger and extreme weather and climate fluctuations sent societies crashing. The rise and fall of the Roman Empire, for Arnold Toynbee, was much like the rise and decline of all other civilizations before and since. Economic history had long been one of ups and downs, growth followed by decline, rather than sustained economic progress.

The Novelty of Modern Economic Growth

If we are to understand why vast gaps between rich and poor exist today, we need therefore to understand a very recent period of human history during which these vast gaps opened. The past two centuries, since around 1800, constitute a unique era in economic history, a period that the great economic historian Simon Kuznets famously termed the period of Modern Economic Growth, or MEG for short. Before the era of MEG, indeed for thousands of years, there had been virtually no sustained economic growth in the world and only gradual increases in the human population.

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