Development Narratives: Recent Trends and Future Needs


One of a series of 13 briefs exploring the strengths and weaknesses of the policies advocated in Paul Collier's controversial and influential book 'The Bottom Billion'.

The Commission for Africa and the Gleneagles summit thrust development into the political spotlight and the public consciousness. These events and others in 2005 inspired authors to write their versions of why some countries are not growing and what the rich countries should be doing to help them. Paul Collier's The Bottom Billion is the latest of these development narratives and it has great strengths – moving beyond aid, clarity in setting priorities for the poorest countries, realpolitik considerations – and some deep flaws – the assumption that traps are automatically overcome in an economy with a growing GDP, an over-reliance on cross-country regressions, and a failure to reach beyond economics. But comparing such narratives reveals their near-universal Western-centric positions. The challenge now is for new metanarratives to emerge.


IDS In Focus Issue 3.13, Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex, Brighton, UK, 4 pp.

Development Narratives: Recent Trends and Future Needs

Published 1 January 2008