NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


June 9, 2008

Some of the world's leading economists, including five Nobel laureates, met last week in Copenhagen, Denmark, to decide what investments would do the most good for the most people, says the Wall Street Journal.  The panel of economists weighed more than 40 proposals to improve the world by spending a total of $75 billion over the next four years. 

According to their findings:

  • Number one was supplements of vitamin A and zinc for malnourished children; these critical vitamins would help some 112 million children in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia for merely $60 million a year, while increasing lifetime productivity by an estimated $1 billion.
  • Number two was a successful outcome to the Doha Round of global free-trade talks.
  • As for global warming mitigation, it ranked 30th, or last, right behind global warming mitigation research and development.
  • Research into low-carbon energy technologies, at No. 14, was the only climate-related proposal to reach even the middle of the priority list.

The benefits of freer trade were estimated in a paper presented by Professors Kym Anderson and Alan Winters:

  • They found that a successful Doha Round could generate up to $113 trillion in new wealth during the 21st century, at a cost of $420 billion or less from inefficient industries going bust.
  • If you like ratios, that's a return of $269 for every $1 of cost.
  • A less conservative projection puts the gains three times higher.
  • More than 80 percent of this global windfall would go to the world's poorest countries.

As the Copenhagen Consensus shows, the abandonment of the Doha trade round is a global tragedy that will do far more harm to more people than a modest increase in global temperature, says the Journal.

Source: "A Different Consensus," Wall Street Journal, June 6, 2008.

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