Rwanda cuts poverty by 12% in six years

This past Wednesday, the GlobeMed at CU Boulder chapter participated in a debate regarding the economic policies of six prominent economists: Paul Collier, Esther Duflo, William Easterly, Dambisa Moyo, Jeffrey Sachs and Amartya Sen.  This debate was the culmination of three weeks worth of work – members were split into 6 separate groups, with each group being assigned a different economist.  In addition to knowing the economic policies of our assigned economist both inside and out, we also learned the economic policies of the five other economists, allowing us to effectively facilitate our economic argument.  Ultimately, the debate proved both educational and fun, with smiles, laughter, and stimulating conversation abound.

The day following our economic debate, I ran across an article in the LA Times featuring Paul Collier.  An idealist at heart, Collier advocates economic policies guided by values-compassion and enlightened self-interest.  Collier sees a need for checks and balances in order to promote good governance and believes that economic development must precede political development.  In his most recent interview, Collier commented on some of the reasons behind Rwanda’s staggering economic growth.

How did Rwanda cut poverty so much?

The small African nation of Rwanda recently announced that it had cut poverty by 12% in six years, from 57% of its population to 45%. That equals roughly a million Rwandans emerging from poverty — one of the most stunning drops in the world.

It’s a remarkable achievement for Rwanda, which has emerged from civil war and a bloody ethnic genocide in the 1990s. How did it happen? The Times quizzed Paul Collier, director of the Center for the Study of African Economies at Oxford University, about the  numbers.

Are there any doubts that the drop is real?

No doubts; I know the economics professor who did the data analysis, and he is highly experienced and painstaking, so it is genuine.

How did Rwanda cut its poverty so much?

There were one or two helpful events, notably the rise in world coffee prices, which pumped money into the rural economy, but, of course, overall the global economy since 2005 has not provided an easy environment for success. Hence, most of the achievement is likely due to domestic policies.

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