Jeffrey Sachs' Differential Diagnosis for Building an Economy

  2. Poverty mapping
  3. Proportion of households lacking basic needs
  4. Spatial distribution of household property
  5. Spatial distrubution of basic infrastructure (power, roads, telecoms, water, and sanitation)
  6. Ethnic, gender, generational distribution of poverty
  7. Key risk factors
  8. --Demographic trends
  9. --Environmental trends
  10. --Climate shocks
  11. --Disease
  12. --Commodity price fluctuations
  13. --Others

  15. Business environment
  16. Trade policy
  17. Investment policy
  18. Infrastructure
  19. Human capital

  21. Public sector revenues and expenditures by category
  22. --Percent of GNP
  23. --Absolute levels in comparison with international norms
  24. Tax administration and expenditure management
  25. Public investment needs to meet poverty reduction targets
  26. Macroeconomic instability
  27. Overhang of public sector debt
  28. Quasi-fiscal debt and hidden debt
  29. Medium-term public sector expenditure framework

  31. Transport conditions
  32. --Proximity of population to ports, international trade routes, navigable waterways
  33. --Access of population to paved roads
  34. --Access of population to motorized transport
  35. Population density
  36. --Costs of connectivity to power, telecoms, roads
  37. --Arable land per capita
  38. --Environmental impacts of population-land ratios
  39. Agronomic conditions
  40. --Temperature, precipitation, solar insolation
  41. --Length and reliability of growing season
  42. --Soils, topography, suitability for irrigation
  43. --Interannual climate variability (hurricanes, etc.)
  44. --Long-term trends in climate patterns
  45. Disease ecology
  46. --Human diseases
  47. --Plant diseases and pests
  48. --Animal diseases

  50. Civil and political rights
  51. Public management systems
  52. Decentralization and fiscal federalism
  53. Corruption patterns and intensity
  54. Political succession and longevity
  55. Internal violence and security
  56. Cross-border violence and security
  57. Ethnic, religious, and other cultural divisions

  59. Gender relations
  60. Ethnic and religion divisions
  61. Diaspora

  63. International security relations
  64. Cross-border security threats
  65. --War
  66. --Terrorism
  67. --Refugees
  68. International sanctions
  69. Trade barriers
  70. Participation in regional and international groups
Author Comments: 

Jeffrey Sachs is an economist, and he designed this list to gauge economic poverty levels, but it will also help you in developing your own economy. These are important facets of a society that are important to think about, so you can brainstorm on these topics to have a better idea of how your society is organized.

What do you think of William Easterly's criticisms of Sachs?

I have enormous respect for Easterly. Two years ago I read his book, "The Elusive Quest for Growth," and my thinking about social reform and economic policies was drastically changed, and I recommend that book to everyone I know who is interested in the subject.

Sach's approach to dealing with poverty seems (I will give him the benefit of the doubt for being an intelligent man) irresponsible and in general, assuming that man in power has a greater capacity to do good than evil. I do not agree with Sachs, and much of his book angered me that he would write such, pardon the term, drivel. I initially bought the book because of his influence he apparently has with it. Similar to Amartya Sen's book, "Development as Freedom," which in my opinion, is totally oblivious to the issue of intra-cultural concerns regarding even the concept of freedom as being a western concept. Both Sachs and Sen seem to be in the same camp, of believing that a unilateral power in the UN to make change in relieving debt, controlling the population of African babies through the use of birth control, and increasing the power of UN intervention on a worldwide scale, is going to bring positive change. To me, this seems juvenile, as if we decided to ignore historical fact and dwell on balmy idealism.

I always enjoy Easterly, and especially appreciated the link to his argument, so thank you. I used Sachs Differential Diagnosis for this particular list because it seems to me to be a good world-building technique. If one were to fill in the blanks from the diagnosis during the process of creating a world, many questions would be answered that might not normally have come up, revealing a much deeper civilization and a very interesting place to visit. Although it could be said that Sachs is writing from a bias, and therefore his diagnosis is tainted, I think good can come out of it.