“Aid is just a stopgap,” he said. “Commerce [and] entrepreneurial capitalism take more people out of poverty than aid. We need Africa to become an economic powerhouse.”
The above chart is from Gapminder and shows China’s per capita income growth since 1800 vs. that of the US and the UK. What happened to China toward the end of the 20th century? Well, it started doing what America and Britain began doing some 200 years earlier. China started embracing what Bono calls entrepreneurial capitalism. Or as economist Deirdre McCloskey puts it:
The Big Economic Story of our times has not been the Great Recession of 2007–2009, unpleasant though it was. … The Big Economic Story of our own times is that the Chinese in 1978 and then the Indians in 1991 adopted liberal ideas in the economy, and came to attribute a dignity and a liberty to the bourgeoisie formerly denied. And then China and India exploded in economic growth. … And contrary to the usual declarations of the economists since Adam Smith or Karl Marx, the Biggest Economic Story was not caused by trade or investment or exploitation. It was caused by ideas. The idea of bourgeois dignity and liberty led to a rise of real income per head in 2010 prices from about $3 a day in 1800 worldwide to over $100 in places that have accepted the Bourgeois Deal and its creative destruction.