Hands Up: What Works in Development

May 16, 2006May 18, 2006
<p>B-339/B-369 Rayburn House Office Building</p>


Session One: Tuesday, May 16th
Solutions from the Local Level
Dr. Antony Davies
Duquesne University
Dr. Frederic Sautet
Mercatus Center at George Mason University
Dr. George Ayittey
American University 

Click Here to view Dr. Davies' powerpoint presentation.

Session Two: Wednesday, May 17th
Empowering Women
Karol Boudreaux
Mercatus Center at George Mason University 

Session Three: Thursday, May 18th
Observations from the Field
Dr. Alex Counts
Grameen Foundation, USA 
Mr. Robert Guest
Former Africa Correspondent for the Economist

For over 60 years, the United States, other wealthy countries and multilateral institutions such as the World Bank and IMF, have teamed up to assist developing countries.  Yet the combined GDP of all sub-Saharan African countries is less than that of Illinois.  How does poverty keep its grip on these countries?  Why have prosperity and growth continue to elude these countries?

For decades, developed nations have devised plans to promote economic growth in poor countries.  Wealthy nations have provided grants, encouraged education, made loans, and forgiven debt.  Despite good intentions, these “hand-outs” were often rendered useless by corruption, poor governance, and ineffective implementation.

More recent efforts at alleviating global poverty have focused on lending to governments of developing countries in exchange for fiscal discipline, good governance, and stable monetary policy.  This has encouraged wealthy countries and NGOs to offer “hand-ups” rather than “hand-outs.”  The effectiveness of these programs, however, has been limited by the failure of donor countries to understand domestic cultural institutions and employ local knowledge in program design and implementation.  These problems, if ignored in policy prescriptions, can carry serious implications and may dramatically affect a developing country’s ability to prosper.

Given the complex mix of politics, economics, and culture, how can Congress develop policies to help developing countries escape from poverty?  To help policymakers sort through this question, the Mercatus Center at George Mason University presents a three-day course that will develop an economic framework for analyzing these problems. Participants will gain a greater understanding of questions such as:

  • What political institutions stimulate or constrain economic development?
  • What is the role of the local entrepreneur in a developing country, and what encourages or restrains her business?
  • What role do women play in development?  How does empowering women and girls affect the climate for prosperity and growth?
  • How does micro-finance create prosperity?  How can it be most effective, and what are its limitations

Course participants will leave with a framework for understanding the institutions and needs of developing nations, as well as the ability to identify policies that encourage prosperity in the developing world.