Dear LA Times: Foreign Aid Holds Developing Nations Back

Editor, Los Angeles Times

Dear Editor:

In "American aid to Africa" (July 15) you presume that money given by governments of rich western nations to governments of poor African nations is necessary if the economies of these African nations are to develop.

Although as widespread as grass on the savannah, this presumption is preposterous. First, history's greatest industrial economies – the Great Britain and the United States – developed without a cent of "foreign aid." Second, over the past half-century, hundreds of billions of dollars of such "aid" have been given to African governments. The peoples of these countries remain desperately poor – arguably, as economist William Easterly documents, in large part BECAUSE of this "aid."

What, then, justifies the presumption that aid is necessary, or even helpful, for economic development?


Donald J. Boudreaux

Don Boudreaux is the Chairman of the Department of Economics at George Mason University and a Business & Media Institute adviser.