DRI Working Paper No. 18
By William Easterly, New York University
How to assess the needs for aid? The answer: Don't ask.
The aid community is awash in plans, strategies, and frameworks to meet the very real needs of the world’s poor, complete with cost estimates of “the need for aid.” This paper contends these exercises only make sense in a central planning mentality in which the answer to the tragedies of poverty is a large bureaucratic apparatus to dictate quantities of different development goods and services by administrative fiat. The planning mindset is in turn linked to previously discredited theories, such as that poverty is due to a “poverty trap,” which can only be alleviated by a large inflow of aid to fill a “financing gap” for poor countries. The aid inflow is of course administered by this same planning apparatus . . .