Paul Collier is a professor of Economics and Director of the Center for the study of African Economies at Oxford University. He is the former director of development research at the World Bank. The “bottom billion” are the people in states largely, but not entirely, in Africa whose economies are declining in absolute terms. It is these states (58 in all) that he argues are most in need of development aid.
This book is based on a variety of careful statistical studies of the problems of the bottom billion. Collier finds four traps that bedevil the countries containing the bottom billion: conflict, natural resources, being landlocked, and bad governance. He also discusses four instruments that can be used to help those countries break out of the particular traps in which they find themselves. He finds uses for the most common instrument – aid – but has recommendations for how it could in a more focused way. The other three instruments are underutilized in Collier’s opinion and include, security, laws and charters, and trade.
At the end of the book, Collier recommends the specific instruments that can be used to help countries escape each of the individual traps. The book is purposely void of detailed study results to facilitate the argumentation, but relevant studies are compiled in a references section.