Checklista för svaga kommuner

Jeffrey Sachs har i sin bok the end of poverty en checklista på sju punkter för att diagnosera länder som är fast i fattigdom. Poängen är att det inte går att bota all feber med samma medicin. Fattigdom är ett symptom på underliggande utmaningar som är olika för plats till plats.

Jag tycker det känns som det här är en bättre lista att jobba med även för mindre platser än allt annat jag sett hittills. Tror särskilt ett gäng kommuner skulle ha stor nytta av den. Så, byt ut land mot kommun och istället för att läsa fattigdom läs någonting mer anpassat till våra förhållanden. testa med ”negativ tillväxt”.

Listan:

First, the underlying condition could be what I call a poverty trap – when the country is too poor to make the basic investments it needs to escape from extreme material deprivation and get on the ladder of economic growth.

Second, the poverty could result from bad economic policies, such as choosing the wrong kind of investment strategy, closing the borders when international trade would make more sense, choosing central planning when a market system would be better, and so forth.

Third, the poverty could reflect the financial insolvency of the government. If a government has a past history of overspending and over-borrowing, it can reach a state of financial bankruptcy. The government then owes so much to its creditors that it is unable to find the money to build roads, schools, clinics, or hire doctors, teachers, and engineers.

Fourth, the poverty might be the result of some aspects of physical geography. The country may be landlocked, far from trade; it may be high in the mountains, unable to farm or engage in low-cost manufacturing; it may face an endemic disease burden of malaria or other burdensome diseases; or it might be highly vulnerable to repeated natural disasters such as earthquakes, tsunamis, tropical cyclones (hurricanes and typhoons), droughts, floods, and other crippling conditions. A few countries, such as Haiti and the Philippines, are unusually buffeted by a large number of such conditions.

Fifth, the country might be suffering from poor governance as opposed to poor policies. On paper, the economic policies look good. In practice, they may be riddled with corruption, inefficiency, incompetence or all of the above. Poor governance is of course a matter of degree. There is corruption nearly everywhere. I sometimes say that, “Yes, corruption is real and damaging, and not only in Washington DC.” Corruption is often attributed to poor countries but not to rich countries. Still, corruption is not the all-purpose explanation it is often taken to be. Many countries with moderate levels of corruption have achieved economic development. Corruption can be a problem, both moral and practical, without being a devastating barrier to development. Yet if carried to extremes, then it certainly can stop economic growth.

A sixth factor in continuing poverty may be cultural barriers. As one important example, some societies continue to discriminate harshly against the women and girls. Girls may still have little or no chance to attend school, and are expected to marry very early and to bear many children, even when the household is too impoverished to raise these children with proper health, nutrition, and education. Such cultural patterns can be inimical to long-term economic development.

The seventh factor is geopolitics, a country’s political and security relations with its neighbors, foes, and allies. Geopolitics can make a big difference. If a country is physically secure from attack, enjoys national sovereignty, and is able to trade peacefully with other countries, geopolitics is the friend of economic development. If, on the contrary, the country is dominated by a foreign power (as in the colonial era), or is part of a proxy war of the great powers, the country can be undermined or even physically destroyed by the actions of more powerful countries. Think of Afghanistan. It has a hard enough time developing in view of being landlocked and vulnerable to many climate shocks such as droughts and floods. Yet since 1978, it is has been subjected to war, incursions, invasions, terrorist cells, and destructive great power politics. It is no wonder that Afghanistan remains one of the poorest places in the world. The outside powers have hindered rather than advanced Afghanistan’s economic development.

Författare: Martin Palacios

Hjälper beslutsfattare, ägare och styrelser att metodiskt och över tid lägga sin begränsade energi där den gör mest skillnad. Nås på +46761108901 eller martin@palacios.se. Twittrar som @palace.