Saturday, July 16, 2005

Aid to Africa: Will it Help? :: Becker and Posner


it is doubtful whether more aid will speed up economic growth, given both Africa's experience with aid during the past half century, and the evidence from other poor nations that internal reforms that produce sizeable and persistent growth are the only really effective way to reduce a nation's poverty.

The highest priority for - and it should be a condition for receiving any - foreign aid should be a nation's agreeing to the establishment under the auspices of the G8 nations an independent, professional, and competent judiciary and police, well paid and well supported with staff and with computer and other necessary equipment, to enforce contracts, property rights, and personal rights. Without such a framework for the protection of economic activity, the African nations are unlikely to progress. The cost of such a framework would be quite modest - far less than $25 billion a year for the entire region.

Another priority is, as Becker notes, girls' education, probably the surest route to reducing population growth. But, although heartless, I do not agree that African nations should receive anti-AIDS drugs on a subsidized basis. . . . the only effective way of dealing with the African AIDS epidemic is adoption of safe sex. The AIDS drugs will retard that adoption by reducing the benefits. Girls' education, quite apart from its other benefits, will combat the epidemic because the more secure women are economically, the less they will be inclined to yield to men's demands for risky sex.

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