Book Review

Book Title: The End of Poverty: Economics possibilities for our time.

By: Jeffrey Sachs

ISBN: 1-8420-045-9

Publisher: Penguin Press

Publication: December 2005

Author explains why, over the past two hundred years, wealth has diverged across the world and why the poorest nations have so far been unable to improve their lot. Poverty is not uniformly distributed around the world.

The book has 18 Chapters with graphics that shows important information like a yearly world average per Capital Income, or a County Classification. Through those chapters, the author explain the basic infrastructures and human capital show some detailed examples of this. Over those 18 chapters, Sachs builds his case carefully, offering a variety of case studies, detailing small-scale projects that have worked and crunching large amounts of data. His basic argument is that the preconditions of basic infrastructure (roads, power, and ports) and human capital (health and education) are in place, markets are powerful engines of development. Sachs provides a critical analysis of current failed development aid policies of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund in the eastern block and the Third World. The author keeps his tone even whether discussing failed states or thriving ones. His first three chapters remind the reader of another sweeping analysis of global development expanding the theme of clinical economics providing analysis carefully of it. Through his analysis, he discovers that every country and its situations require unique solutions. The author brings simplified examples at the family and the village levels that demonstrate clearly how a modest investment from outside can make a substantial difference in incomes and human well-being. In addition, Dr. Sachs explain some agricultural and environmental issues. This book is an example of creativity approaches to development and solving poverty. This book furthers the arguments toward broad and sweeping reforms of development aid, while it raises questions about how this should happen at the community level.


             1.- Could the world end poverty within the next 20 years?

2.- Does the author give example of poverty solution?

3.- What does extreme poverty mean?

4.- Is there a solution to poverty?

5.- Explain briefly how this book can help to avoid poverty?

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With every Teacher’s readings I learned more about economics systems around the world. I think  that this class is very interactive because students can write in their journals every thing they read about economic system’s topics. I just would like to add that teachers or the economic department need to find another textbook more explicit and more wide world. in addition, I think that there are economic system which were not reference in our textbook. it looks like more a history book than an economic textbook. in other hand, the class was wonderful and it met my expectations.  I hope to take more classes like this one. the teacher did an amazing job. Congratulation. Great Job!!!!!!

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class’ feedback

The instructor through his journals explained the economics system showing the goals that a class session has acquired about it. The class was designed with effective instructions and assignments. An effective teacher-students interactions has been an active and crucial ingredient for this successful class. Every unit, the teacher has improved explicit assignments focus in every unit. This class was carefully designed demonstrating the teacher’s professionalism who can improve and development successful this class’ quality.

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Best two Posts

How is the first time I work in a blog I am so exciting for this. In my opinion my two best post were “Cuba and its Health Care” and “How important is safety at work place”. They were the most important because “Cuba and Its Health Care” shows the critical situation that exists in the health system in my home country and also I like “How important is safety at work place” because it shows in a humorist way how safe we have to work in any job.

With “Cuba and its Health Care” I would like to show to my classmates how other economic system has it health system. Cubans life in a scarcity.

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Global economic and Latin America

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Cuba Education

Ever since the Socialism was implanted in Cuba in 1960s, the country’s education system has fundamentally improved. It is 100% subsided by the government. Cuba is rated as the best education system in Latin America, despite being one of the less developed countries in the region. Education is public and free for all Cuban citizens. Today a large school network provides education in all corners of the Cuban Island.

Primary education covers seven grades (years) structured in two cycles: the first from Kindergarten to 4th grade, and the second from 5th to 6th grade. The primary goal is to develop a learned student, with patriotic feelings and civic education, capable of identifying with the values and principles of our society, exalting the value of work as a source of wealth and acting as the protagonist in the leaning process. This should be achieved through the educational pedagogical process and all school and social activities conducted by the school, the family, and the community.

Then, Basic Secondary Education is comprised of students in age group 12-15 years and is an integral part of the compulsory basic education along with Primary Education. Its goal is to lay the foundation for the full development of the student’s personality by fostering the acquisition of basic knowledge and the development of skills in Native Language, Literature, Mathematics, Natural and Social Sciences and a foreign language, besides contributing to the aesthetic education of students, the development of a physical culture, the practice of sports and the elementary knowledge of the principles of the technique, closely linked to production activities and the work of vocational training and professional guidance.

Upon successfully completing 9th grade, students have the possibility to continue their education. From then on, they have a wide range of options, all of interest to the economic and social development of the country, in accordance with the workforce demand required for the coming years. This education is for students 15-18 years old, who complete their studies in a period of 3–4 years. General Secondary Education is splinted into two categories: pre-university education and technical or professional.

Pre-University Education prepares young people for Higher Education with a solid foundation of general culture, aims to instill in the students the conviction that the university studies to which they aspire will meet the requirements for the development of the country. There are different kind of Pre-university School such as: Pre-University Vocational Institutes of Pedagogical Sciences, whose purpose is to strengthen the vocational training started in previous levels in order to ensure efficient vocational guidance to students, encourage them and commit them to continue their education in pedagogical courses, from which they will graduate in education. There are also the Pre-University Vocational Institutes of Exact Sciences, whose goal is to ensure that its graduates opt for careers in science, which are necessary for the scientific development of the country. With similar objectives there are the Pre-University Military Vocational Institutes for students pursuing military careers. All students who complete higher secondary education are able to opt for any of the different university careers. To enter the university, students must have satisfactorily completed their studies at this level, in addition to taking and passing entrance examinations in Spanish, Mathematics, Cuban History, Chemistry, or physics depending on the major students wish to take.

Technical or professional Education has the main role of prepare the skilled workforce of technicians and workers that the country requires. Students enter the subsystem after completing 9 or 12 years of schooling in some specialties. The courses last 3 or 4 years, according to the entry level and complexity of the specialty, whose structure corresponds to the current demand, especially in the areas of agriculture, civil construction, accounting and railroads. These areas are linked to production organizations and services of the State.

All children from the ages of 6 to 18 are required to wear regulated school uniforms with different colors distinguish the various grade levels. Kids must wear school uniforms. The Cuban government provides just one or two uniforms per child each year. Children often dirty the clothes daily when they go to school and one set of uniforms are not enough for young children. Parents are forced to wash them every day. Obviously, if uniforms are washed daily they could be deteriorate. At the beginning of the school year, parents have to buy more uniform’s set on the black market because the Cuban government only guarantees one or two sets of uniforms for children a year.

Primary Education First Cycle                      Primary Education Second Cycle

Primaria 1        Elementary School

Basic Secondary Education


Pre-University Education                        Technical or professional Education

HIgh School              Tecnico medios

The educational system in Cuba is built on three main principles: self-discipline, hard work and love of country. From the time children are small, they are indoctrinated in their schools with the government’s political beliefs of communism. Children and parents alike are expected to uphold the “Code for Children, Youth and Family” which clearly prohibits the teaching of beliefs that go against communism. Parents who violate this code by teaching their children contrary doctrine face the prospect of prison.

Higher education is provided by universities, higher institutes, higher pedagogical institutes, centers of higher education and higher polytechnic institutes. All institutions of higher education are public. The Ministerio de Education Superior (MES) is responsible for policy in matters of undergraduate and postgraduate education. It controls teaching, methodology, courses and programs and the allocation of student places, as well as the specialization courses offered by centers of higher education which come under the control of other ministries. All institutions have the same status.

Cuban universities offer a wide range of studies to include technical careers, medicine, education, law, finance, science, economics and more. Students can obtain a professional diploma or Licenciatura (Bachelor’s degree) upon successfully completing a 4-5 year program. A Bachelor’s degree in medicine may require 5 to 6 years to complete. A Bachelor’s degree completes the first stage of higher education.

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Cuba and its Health Care

As different of United State, which has a health care system operates mainly as a private multipayer system, the Cuban health system is universal and free for all Cuban without restrictions. The Cuban government guarantees free medical and hospital care, as free dental care. Mental health is also considered part of the National Health System making its diagnosis and treatment free for all Cuban citizens. In addition, the Cuban health care system cover all medical treatments services as well as medicines. Cuba has one of the highest doctor per patient ratio in the world with one doctor per 170 people.

Is truth that health care system is free, but why are these many unhappy doctors? Why many doctors leave their careers to go to work like waitress? Why many Cubans doctors emigrate to others countries to change their life and their families? There many reasons why Cubans doctors do not want to work rather than doctors at the Island.

The main reason is the doctors’ salaries. The government can afford so many doctors because they are paid extremely low salaries by internationals standards. The average is between $30 and $50 dollars per months.

The second reason could be that Cuba currently exports considerable health services and personnel to different countries like Venezuela, Africa, Ecuador, Brazil, and others. Cuba has more than 50,000 health care professionals are working in some 66 nations. Cuban doctors are “slave workers”, who labor for meager wages while bolstering Cuba’s image as a donor nation and the Cuban government exports these doctors as merchandise.

Even Cuban’s government expects to take in $8.2 billion dollars a year for sent them to care people in poor countries, Cuba hikes salaries for doctors and nurses that do not exceed $50 dollars a month.  Cuban’s health care workers on international missions earn high salaries and in hard currency.

For many Cubans doctors is a wonderful options to be sent to work to other country because through this way they can emigrate to a develop country for a better life, in contrast Cuban government do not permit them to be accompanied by relatives to their international missions to prevent doctors desert or leave Cuba permanently. Many doctors are forcing to return Cuba after their international missions.

Other reason is that hospital and clinics are crumbling. Conditions are so unsanitary, patients may be better off at home, whatever home is. If Cuban patients do have to go to the hospital they must bring their own bed shuts, soap, towels, food, light bulbs, fan even toilet paper. Also basic medications are scarce and an antibiotic will fetch a fortune on the black market.

The equipment that doctors have to work with is antiquated or non-existent. They have been known to reuse latex gloves. Doctors are not privileged citizens in Cuba and many of them have a second job like taxi driver.

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European Influence in Cuba’s economy (Part 2)


The Capture of Havana by the British took place during the Seven Years’ War in August 1762. It was a battle between a British squadron and a Spanish squadron off the coast of Cuba. It was a consequence of tensions between the three dominant colonial powers; Britain, France and Spain that were transported to the Caribbean. The strong Spanish fleet guarding the Cuban capital fell to the British invasion after fierce fighting.

During the period that lasted the occupation, eleven months, Cuba experienced a severe economic boom brought about by certain actions taken by the British as opening ports for trade with North American and Caribbean colonies, causing a rapid transformation of Cuban society. Food, horses and other goods flooded into the city, and thousands of slaves from West Africa were transported to the island to work on the under manned sugar plantations. Even during this period is introduced what today is one of the delicacies of Cuban food, pork. Relations between Havana and the English were good, although Cuban saw British as occupants.

After eleven months in July 1763, England and Spain agree to an exchange in which part of Florida would be left to the British in exchange for Havana and Cuba in its entirety.

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European Influence in Cuba’s economy (Part 1)


The island of Cuba was inhabited by about 50,000 Ciboney and Taíno. They were agricultural Mesoamerican Indian tribes prior to the arrival of Christopher Columbus in October 1492, who claimed the Island for the Kingdom of Spain. Aboriginal groups were soon eliminated or died as a result of diseases or the shock of conquest. Thus, the impact of indigenous groups on subsequent Cuban society was limited, and Spanish culture, institutions, language, and religion prevailed. Colonial society developed slowly after Spain colonized the island and Cuba was remained a colony of Spain until the Spanish–American War of 1898.

The conquest of the Island for Spain almost begins for the Oriente of Cuba two decades after Colón’s first trip, like part of the occupation process that was irradiated toward diverse lands of Caribbean. To Diego Velázquez, one of the richest colonists in The Spaniard, took charge to subdue the Cuban territory that began in 1510 with a lingering acknowledgment operation and conquer, plagued of bloody incidents. In a period of 5 years, Spaniards undertook the establishment of seven villages with the objective of controlling the conquered territory.

From these establishments that changed its primitive location mostly, the conquerors began the exploitation of the resources of the Island. The economic activity was sustained in the work of the natives, delivered them to the colonists for the kingdom by means of the system of “commands”, a kind of a granting personal, revocable and not transferable, through which the colonist committed to dress, to feed and to Christianize the aborigine in exchange for the right of making him work in benefit of the prevailing government. The dominant economic line in these first years of the colony was the mining, specifically the extraction of gold, activity in which commended Indians were used as well as some black slaves that were integrated from very early to the ethnic conglomerate that centuries later it would constitute the Cuban town.

The native Indians were working under the Spaniards oppression were virtually wiped out due to multiple factors, including Eurasian infectious diseases aggravated in large part by a lack of natural resistance as well as privation stemming from repressive colonial subjugation. In 1529, a measles outbreak in Cuba killed two-thirds of the natives who had previously survived smallpox. Thus, entered the slave trade. The first Spanish royal permit for Negro slaves was issued in 1513.

The quick exhaustion of the gold-bearing sands, the lack of gold, and the population’s drastic reduction in value, the salted meat and the leathers would be the almost exclusive goods with which the scarce colonists of the Island could incorporate themselves to the commercial circuits of the nascent Spanish empire.

By the 1590’s Cuba’s economy began to prosper by cattle breeding and farming as this lead to new jobs on the island, but this new slow and uneven growth led supplies to be more expensive. How the agriculture also developed and farming expanded with sugar, coffee and tobacco crops began to use the black market in order to purchase contraband. These new crops also served to encourage new settlements. No longer had a remote military outpost, food shortages and inflated prices worsened. Supplies did not increase and money was not sent from Spain. The cost of goods did not decline but contraband increased.

At the beginning of the 17th century, the chief industry was stock-raising which was followed in all parts of the island. The meat afforded a supply for the shipping and the hides were exported. Honey and wax soon became important. The sugar industry grew slowly and chiefly in the favorable region of Habana, three ingenios being established in its vicinity in 1576. These mills were simple, crude constructions of rollers for crushing the cane moved by cattle or water power. The product obtained by simple boiling in open pans was of a very inferior quality, and was consumed in the island. The ingenios required from eighty to one hundred Negroes each. Large-scale sugar production in Cuba began early in the 19th century. Sugar quickly became the cornerstone of the Cuban economy and a new class of wealthy planters emerged. By mid-19th century Cuba provided about a third of the world’s sugar, and U.S. investors began to make moves on the island.

There were three liberations wars that Cuba people fought against Spain; Ten Years War (1868-1878), the Little War (1879-1880), and Cuban War Independence (1895-1898). The final three months of the conflict escalated to become the Spanish–American War, with United States forces being deployed in Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Philippine Islands against Spain. On August 12, the United States and Spain signed a protocol of Peace, in which Spain agreed to relinquish all claim of sovereignty and title over Cuba. On December 10, 1898, the United States and Spain signed the Treaty of Paris, which recognized Cuban independence.

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Apologies to my classmates

Sorry if I bore you with my blogs but how I lived for about 35 years in Cuba with its socialist economic system is very difficult for me to talk about economics without Cuba comes to my mind and its economy.

For many people is amazing to think how a country so close to one of the most developed countries of the world like the United States there is so much poverty and I only want to share a little history with you of a small forgotten island in the Caribbean.

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