Reinventing Foreign Aid

Reinventing Foreign Aid

Edited by William R. Easterly

Top experts in the field discuss how to improve the effectiveness of foreign aid, proposing practical solutions to specific problems rather than a utopian master plan.





Top experts in the field discuss how to improve the effectiveness of foreign aid, proposing practical solutions to specific problems rather than a utopian master plan.

The urgency of reducing poverty in the developing world has been the subject of a public campaign by such unlikely policy experts as George Clooney, Alicia Keyes, Elton John, Angelina Jolie, and Bono. And yet accompanying the call for more foreign aid is an almost universal discontent with the effectiveness of the existing aid system. In Reinventing Foreign Aid, development expert William Easterly has gathered top scholars in the field to discuss how to improve foreign aid. These authors, Easterly points out, are not claiming that their ideas will (to invoke a current slogan) Make Poverty History. Rather, they take on specific problems and propose some hard-headed solutions. Easterly himself, in an expansive and impassioned introductory chapter, makes a case for the “searchers”—who explore solutions by trial and error and learn from feedback—over the “planners”—who throw an endless supply of resources at a big goal—as the most likely to reduce poverty. Other writers look at scientific evaluation of aid projects (including randomized trials) and describe projects found to be cost-effective, including vaccine delivery and HIV education; consider how to deal with the government of the recipient state (work through it or bypass a possibly dysfunctional government?); examine the roles of the International Monetary Fund (a de-facto aid provider) and the World Bank; and analyze some new and innovative proposals for distributing aid.

Contributors Abhijit Banerjee, Nancy Birdsall, Craig Burnside, Esther Duflo, Domenico Fanizza, William Easterly, Ruimin He, Kurt Hoffman, Stephen Knack, Michael Kremer, Mari Kuraishi, Ruth Levine, Bertin Martens, John McMillan, Edward Miguel, Jonathan Morduch, Todd Moss, Gunilla Pettersson, Lant Pritchett, Steven Radelet, Aminur Rahman, Ritva Reinikka, Jakob Svensson, Nicolas van de Walle, James Vreeland, Dennis Whittle, Michael Woolcock


Out of Print ISBN: 9780262050906 584 pp. | 6 in x 9 in 60 illus. illus.


$50.00 X ISBN: 9780262550666 584 pp. | 6 in x 9 in 60 illus. illus.


William R. Easterly

William Easterly is the author of The Elusive Quest for Growth: Economists' Adventures and Misadventures in the Tropics (MIT Press, 2001) and The White Man's Burden: Why the West's Efforts to Aid the Rest Have Done So Much Ill and So Little Good. He is Professor of Economics at New York University (Joint with Africa House), Codirector of NYU's Development Research Institute, visiting Fellow at the Brookings Institution, and Nonresident Fellow of the Center for Global Development in Washington, DC.


  • This book is topical, academically rigorous, and wide ranging. A high quality collection!

    Christopher Scott

    London School of Economics

  • Enhancing aid effectiveness requires a holistic approach.This outstanding book provides rich food for thought, with expert contributions spanning the range from evaluation to institutional design and new approaches in providing aid. A must-read for all scholars and practitioners interested in making aid work.

    Holger Wolf

    School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University

  • It is ironic that, at a time when aid flows to the poorest countries of the world are reaching unprecedented scale, and when the challenge of generating resources to fight world poverty is receiving unprecedented publicattention, the question of what actually works in making aid effective hasbecome extremely controversial. Fortunately, a new generation of development researchers has turned its attention to this question, bringing to bear a variety of innovative and refreshingly convincing new empirical techniques. This volume edited by William Easterly brings together contributions from many of the leading lights in this field, providing a rich menu of perspectives not only on what has been learned through this newwork, but also on how much remains to be learned. It is an accessible must-read not only for students and academics, but more importantly for those in the policy world who will participate in making the critical decisions on how aid will be administered, as well as for the citizens who will hold them accountable for those decisions.

    Peter J. Montiel

    Fred Greene Third Century Professor of Political Economy, Williams College