March 24, 2011
A New York Times book review examines British development economist Charles Kenny's book, "Getting Better," which argues that "[l]ife in much of Africa and in most of the impoverished world has improved at an unprecedented clip in recent decades, even if economic growth hasn't." In the book, Kenny writes that global development's most significant success "has not been making people richer but, rather, has been making the things that really matter -- things like health and education -- cheaper and more widely available." The article highlights "the scourge of HIV" in Africa -- which has slowed development -- as a potential setback to Kenny's case. But it notes: "Mr. Kenny responds that H.I.V. is akin to a modern plague. The fact that sub-Saharan Africa has made even modest progress while battling the plague is remarkable. Much of the rest of the world, meanwhile, continues to make great progress on health, education, infrastructure and even human rights" (Leonhardt, 3/22).