Sunday, November 02, 2008

Game "Theory" and Development Aid

     Our policy maybe should _not_ be to help where things are worst.  This gives a certain incentive to just throw up your hands and wait for the cavalry. 

     Now, I just said may main metric was "body count." so I'd be a hypocrite, and certainly mean, to say that "oh, you folks are hopeless and dying, no help for you!"  But certainly we give aid to countries without bodies piling up.

     Oh, for development aid, I might never forget Beatrice Lorge Rogers' Intra-Household Resource Allocation.  It's a very other-centric way to look at why sometimes development aid is a massive fail.

     And, for some other reason, I can't forget a story I read in the London Economist a decade ago about Mozambique.  Mozambique had made some major progress.  They were building infrastructure.  They weren't, to the best of my knowledge, doing it with forced peasant labor.  Then disaster struck.  The weather.  Major storms.  Washed away some roads.  They effectively slipped back to where they were before their efforts.

     So, where should development aid go?  I say it should go to countries which are making the right effort and either having some success, or failing only because of forces beyond their control.  It's more like helping someone trying to get over a wall than anything.  In these cases, recall, there are some people already in the industry or sector we are trying to support, people who have achieved some sort of success.  If the people aren't prepared for the development aid, the effort is much more likely to fail.

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