Ending Global Poverty: A Guide to What Works

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Ending Global Poverty: A Guide to What Works

By Stephen C. Smith
Palgrave Macmillan, 2005
288 pp. $26.95
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This book grew out of the author's effort to respond to a question his wife posed to a development economist: How should they allocate their charitable giving among the numerous worthy-sounding groups that aim to reduce poverty? There has in fact been an enormous reduction in world poverty in recent decades due to rapid economic growth in some very poor countries, most notably China and India. Smith contends that although growth creates a favorable environment for reducing poverty, it does not automatically ensure it; too many poor people are caught in poverty traps of various kinds. His book offers sensible guidelines to both individuals and corporations about how they can help, but its main contribution is to describe the successes of many programs on the ground, ranging from programs to improve nutrition to those working on education or microcredit, often run by local nongovernmental organizations, which have emerged to fill the gaps left by incompetent or corrupt governments. Many of these success stories rely on women, who are determined that their children should have better lives than they have; the men who typically control governments do not fare well in these accounts.