(William R. Easterly, William Russell Easterly)
PERSONAL: Born in Morgantown, WV. Education: Bowling Green State University, B.A., 1979; Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Ph.D., 1985. Hobbies and other interests: Reading, music, cycling, roll-erblading, "neuro-surgery."
CAREER: Economist, professor, editor, and writer. Data Resources, Inc., Cambridge, MA, economist for Latin American service, 1980–81; El Colegio de Mexico, Mexico City, Mexico, research fellow, 1983–84; Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, consultant to government of Jamaica, 1983, teaching assistant, 1984–85; World Bank, Washington, DC, economist in operations, 1985–87, economist, 1988, senior advisor, 1989–2001; affiliated with Institute for International Economics, Washington, DC, and Center for Global Development, Washington, DC, 2001–03; New York University, New York, NY, professor of economics and codirector of Development Research Institute, 2003–; Center for Global Development, Washington, DC, senior fellow.
Georgetown University, Washington, DC, adjunct professor, 1992, 1997–98; Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD, adjunct professor, 1992–95; University of Maryland, College Park, faculty visitor, 1996. Has also worked in Africa, Latin American, and Russia.
(Editor, with Carlos Alfredo Rodríguez and Klaus Schmidt-Hebbel) Public Sector Deficits and Macroeconomic Performance, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 1994.
The Elusive Quest for Growth: Economists' Adventures and Misadventures in the Tropics, MIT Press (Cambridge, MA), 2001.
The White Man's Burden: Why the West's Efforts to Aid the Rest Have Done So Much III and So Little Good, Penguin (New York, NY), 2006.
Also author of government reports for the World Bank, including (as William R. Easterly) Fiscal Adjustment and Deficit Financing during the Debt Crisis, 1989; (with others) Modeling the Macroeconomic Requirement of Policy Reforms, 1990; (with Sergio Rebelo) Marginal Income Tax Rates and Economic Growth in Developing Countries, 1992; (with Martha de Melo and Gur Ofer) Services as a Major Source of Growth in Russia and Other Former Soviet States, 1994; (with David Dollar), The Search for the Key: Aid, Investment, and Policies in Africa, 1999; Can Institutions Resolve Ethnic Conflict?, 2000; and The Effect of International Monetary Fund and World Bank Programs on Poverty, 2001.
Contributor to scholarly journals, including Economics and Politics, World Development, Journal of Economic Perspectives, and Journal of Monetary Economics. As-sociate editor of Quarterly Journal of Economics, Journal of Economic Growth, and Journal of Development Economics.
WORK IN PROGRESS: Editing Reinventing Foreign Aid, for MIT Press, expected 2007.
SIDELIGHTS: William Easterly has spent his career focused on world economics, particularly in relation to developing countries. Also a professor of economics, he has written numerous government reports for the World Bank, an institution which provides financial and technical assistance to developing countries in order to reduce global poverty. He has also coedited and authored books on related topics.
Easterly's first sole-authored, full-length book is titled The Elusive Quest for Growth: Economists' Adventures and Misadventures in the Tropics. The book is an analysis of efforts made during the past fifty years to facilitate and accelerate development in third-world countries. Easterly uses research and his own experiences at the World Bank to examine why certain government policies have failed to aid impoverished nations. Easterly challenges common assumptions and also supplies humanistic solutions to stimulate economic growth.
Critical response to The Elusive Quest for Growth was mixed. Paulo Cunha, writing in the Journal of International Affairs, called Easterly an "entertaining economist" and further commented, "This work offers a cautionary and rewarding account of the failed policies of previous experiments in economic growth." Deepak Lai, reviewing the book in the Economic Record, held a similar opinion; he called the book "racily written" and pointed out that it "reads like a detective story." However, Lai found Easterly's "wholesale swallowing" of recent economic theories to be "worrying." Based on this, Lai concluded: "While I would commend this highly readable book—whose conclusions are by and large sound—to the general reader, I have serious doubts about its scholarly acumen." Devashish Mitra, writing in the Southern Economic Journal, felt differently, calling the book "a serious and substantial piece of original work…. The balance between theory, empirics, and policy in this book is extraordinary." Mitra also noted that "a book of this kind has been long overdue, and Easterly goes a long way in filling this void."
In 2006 Easterly published The White Man's Burden: Why the West's Efforts to Aid the Rest Have Done So Much III and So Little Good. The book examines why so many developing countries remain impoverished despite receiving trillions of dollars in aid from Western nations. Easterly argues that only programs based on motivation, feedback, and accountability can help the poor overcome their economic struggles. Indeed, reviewers praised Easterly's novel insight into foreign aid efforts. Bryce Christensen, critiquing The White Man's Burden in Booklist, felt that it has "set the terms for a debate over how to give foreign aid a new start." A Kirkus Reviews critic added that "Easterly's is not the only recent portrayal of humanitarianism in crisis … but it is unusual in suggesting solutions." A Publishers Weekly reviewer was also laudatory, pointing out that "the book's wry, cynical prose is highly accessible." Ultimately, Amartya Sen, writing in Foreign Affairs, found "much of merit in Easterly's perceptive vision about initiatives, incentives, and communication," and added that "we should be grateful to Easterly for the wealth of material he has presented, thereby enriching the development literature."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, February 1, 2006, Bryce Christensen, review of The White Man's Burden: Why the West's Efforts to Aid the Rest Have Done So Much III and So Little Good, p. 11.
Economic Record, September, 2003, Deepak Lai, review of The Elusive Quest for Growth: Economists' Adventures and Misadventures in the Tropics, p. 385.
Economist, March 30, 2002, "Aiding and Abetting; Growth and Aid," review of The Elusive Quest for Growth.
Foreign Affairs, March-April, 2006, Amartya Sen, "The Man without a Plan," review of The White Man's Burden, p. 171.
Journal of International Affairs, spring, 2005, Paulo Cunha, review of The Elusive Quest for Growth, p. 303.
Kirkus Reviews, January 15, 2006, review of The White Man's Burden, p. 69.
Publishers Weekly, January 16, 2006, review of The White Man's Burden, p. 52.
Southern Economic Journal, April, 2002, Devashish Mitra, review of The Elusive Quest for Growth, p. 979.