The Great Escape: Health, Wealth, and the Origins of Inequality

Author: Angus Deaton
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by wyc   2017-08-19
I truly applaud the efforts of the funds. I don't think I could come up with any more noble endeavor, and I know there are some very capable people throughout their organizations who are dedicated to spending the funds wisely and impactfully.

However, is it fair to credit philanthropy as the sole cause of quality of life improvements across the most destitute populations?

    It's a story about the stunning gains the poorest people in the world have made
    over the last 25 years. This incredible progress has been made possible not
    only by the generosity of Warren and other philanthropists, the charitable
    giving of individuals across the world, and the efforts of the poor on their
    own behalf, but also by the huge contributions made by donor nations, which
    account for the vast majority of global health and development funding.
I think there is a fair amount of evidence that suggests development funding can have as much disastrous consequence as good. In his book The Great Escape[1], Angus Deaton (Nobel Prize economist) describes how non-interventionist economic development seems to have been the main driver of better outcomes across the world, and not the flush pockets of westerners, as convenient as that would be. Another book called The Road To Hell[2] provides many examples where large charitable efforts regularly produce even worse outcomes than no intervention at all. Is there some good evidence to suggest that the money spent by the Gates Foundation and other charities were solely responsible for the improved qualities of life across whole populations?

If you want to posit that their efforts have been invaluable in improving access to medical services across the globe, you'll get no argument from me. However, that's a small part of what makes up "stunning gains."