Latest Issue

More coups, please

Poor nations will remain trapped until their bad leaders shape up. Letting a few topple would help

By Paul Collier   April 2009

In my book The Bottom Billion (2007), I argued that a number of traps had caught 1bn people in some 60 countries in extreme poverty. One trap was violent conflict, especially civil wars. Another was poor governance: in many of these countries, government was not performing the essential functions of the state. But both are about political power.

Since the fall of the Soviet Union, many of these 60 countries have adopted democracy. Autocratic leaders such as Zambia’s President Kaunda and, later, Daniel arap Moi in Kenya and Robert Mugabe in Zimbawe, were forced to introduce competitive elections, a move…

Register today to continue reading

You’ve hit your limit of three articles in the last 30 days. To get seven more, simply enter your email address below.

You’ll also receive our free e-book Prospect’s Top Thinkers 2020 and our newsletter with the best new writing on politics, economics, literature and the arts.

Prospect may process your personal information for our legitimate business purposes, to provide you with newsletters, subscription offers and other relevant information.

Click here to learn more about these purposes and how we use your data. You will be able to opt-out of further contact on the next page and in all our communications.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to

More From Prospect