If you’re interest in foreign aid and economic development in the world’s poorest areas, do yourself a favor and bookmark the excellent blog Aid Watch, written by NYU economist Bill Easterly.
Aid Watch, which Easterly began last year with the sensible tag line “Just asking that aid benefit the poor,” is Easterly’s attempt at introducing some accountability to the well-intentioned but often shadowy and wasteful world of foreign aid.
“The objective [of the blog],” Easterly says, “is to be brutally honest when aid is not helping the poor, but also praising it when it is.”
In an EconTalk podcast from last year, Easterly called it “one of the great tragedies of our generation” that most of the financial resources that have been summoned over the last 50 years in trying to help the world’s poorest and most desperate people have essentially been squandered.
“Nearly 600 billion dollars of that went into Africa,” said Easterly. “Economic growth per-person in Africa has been zero over that whole period. That is, the standard of living of the average African is no higher today than it was 50 years ago despite this massive aid effort. That clearly is a sign that all that aid money was not reaching the poor.”
Some of the most interesting, provocative, and even humorous posts from Aid Watch:
Also, check out Easterly on Bloggingheads.tv chatting with philosopher Peter Singer about foreign aid, microcredit, and bad charities with good intentions.