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Christine Pence
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Professor Casey has said many times that those who wish to craft effective development policy must understand poor farmers. Ravallion’s paper echoes this claim. I thought it an interesting point that many countries throw all of their resources into development of the modern sector and largely ignore the agriculture sector that is hurting the most. However, when the majority of the poor are rural subsistence farmers, doing so seems largely ineffective. Having a booming modern sector is only possible if there exists the human capital to support it and the consumer to demand its products and services. However, if the government does not help individuals out of poverty, there is no opportunity for them to contribute to the modern sector and they are unable to act as a consumer. If inequality is concentrated in the rural areas, like it is in China and Sub Saharan Africa, then agriculture growth and rural development are particularly important and resources should be concentrated accordingly This brings up another important aspect of the problem, that being institutions. We have discussed the fact that institutions are of the utmost importance for development. Good policies are only helpful if effectively implemented and effective implementation rest upon the existence of strong and supportive institutions. China was able to implement the hugely influential Household Responsibility System because the government was strong. This is where I feel Africa is at the greatest disadvantage. The governments in Africa are fraught with corruption and seem to be largely unconcerned with focusing policy reform on poor empowerment and development. For example, Ravallion notes how taxes in Sub-Saharan Africa burden the poor. Even when governments have the right intentions, the country is in such a state of debt and disorganization that their governing is largely inept. Although the people in government are among those who are doing best in Africa, government reform may need to be the central focus for development policy in the immediate future; nothing can come of rural development policy until the institutions exists to ensure that those policies achieve their greatest benefit.
Toggle Commented Dec 4, 2013 on China and Africa (Econ 280) at Jolly Green General
I am focusing my blog on the effect of rising temperatures on water resources. People always say that in the future, war will be fought not over oil, but over water. I think this is a completely true and terrifying claim. Water is one of only a few things that humans can absolutely not survive without and water scarcity will have resonating effects on nearly all aspects of society. In 2080, 43-50 percent of the global population will be living in water-scarce countries vs. the 28 percent that lives in water-scarce countries today. Data predicts that Africa will be particularly hard hit. Water scarcity is going to have the most detrimental effects on agriculture heavy developing countries whose farmers are often solely dependent upon rainfall since they do not have irrigation. Reducing harvest yields will drive struggling farmers farther into poverty. A rise is global temperatures will require further investment in water management infrastructure. However, this is going to be hard for countries that lack the money for such investments and even worse for those farmers who lack the credit and savings to make large-scale investments. Furthermore, if the risk involved in the agriculture industry increases, poor farmers will likely become less likely to take unnecessary risks. These types of risks include innovative farming techniques, such as agroforestry.
Toggle Commented Nov 19, 2013 on ECON 280 Updated Syllabus at Jolly Green General
“Child Labor,” by Chris Udry touches upon many of the themes and ideas we have so far discussed in this course. I. He begins by describing child labor as a necessary evil, with a strong negative correlation existing between child labor and household income. This relates to the Duflow piece on women empowerment when she says that poverty leads to hard choices and women empowerment is negatively correlated with the need to make the hard choices. II. Udry goes on to make an interesting point about the time delay between the benefits and costs of child labor. Since the costs of child labor (primarily a lack of education) affect the individual later in life, it is hard for the agent to put costs in perspective. Consequently, fighting child labor is difficult. “The Economic Lives of the Poor” discussed that one of the reasons the poor do not save is because they think primarily in the present and have a difficult time planning for the future. III. With child labor, we also see the ever-present theme that a cause and a symptom of poverty are one-in-the-same. IV. This same article, as well as the pieces on women empowerment and malaria (and maybe others that have slipped my mind), discuss the fact that children are assets and insurance; they provide a safety net of labor for the household. V. Related to this is the theme of agency and child welfare. In many of the articles we have read, there exists a positive correlation between a mother’s income and her children’s welfare (in this case a reduction in child labor.) VI. When Udry discusses policy, education appears to be the most effective means by which to fight child poverty. Week after week, investment in human capital appears to be the best policy for fighting poverty. Most recently Schultz argued that policy should focus on investments in people through health, nutrition and education. Both Schultz and Udry discuss the effectiveness of incentives in fighting poverty. This overview of some common themes throughout this course illuminates a few important points. First, simple poverty policy changes have radiating effects. Second, policy changes should focus on investments in human capital. Throwing money at a problem is often easier and less time consuming than coming to understand the root of a problem and addressing it at that core. Third, investments in human capital instigate a “domino effect,” where one improvement leads to another. For example, increasing education leads to not only a decrease in child labor, but also an increase in women empowerment, which leads to an increase in immunizations among children, which leads to decreased fertility rates, which leads to an increase in education, and so on. Fourth, fighting poverty through investments in human capital is a virtuous circle. This last example illustrates this point well.
Toggle Commented Nov 5, 2013 on Corel Office Document at Jolly Green General
As I read this article, I noticed that the benefits attributed to fighting malaria and strengthening women empowerment are nearly synonymous to one another, and that the detriments when these things fail to occur are also closely linked. Just as the women empowerment affects nearly all sectors of life so to does malaria. First, when women gain influence in the household as a result of rising status in society or their contribution to the family income through outside employment, the behavior of the household changes for the better. When a household member becomes sick from malaria, the household behavior also changes. Both of these behavioral changes include savings and education among other things. Second, uneducated, unemployed women have much higher fertility rates compared to those who work outside the house. Women who live in areas of high malaria transition too have higher fertility rates. Third, while women empowerment frees a women’s time for things outside of the home, high fertility rates in high malaria areas ensure that women have little time for outside employment because they are too busy caring for their large number of children. Fourth, we saw that in families where the women have little power, girls are the most likely to be disadvantaged. The same phenomenon is seen in high malaria areas. Fifth, just as women’s prioritization of food and healthcare over men’s prioritization of alcohol and tobacco, leads to healthier children, children without malaria have healthier nutritional statuses compared to children with malaria. Fifth, both have large-scale impacts on education. Furthermore, as we saw with the Duflow article, economic development helps women empowerment and women empowerment aids in economic development. Similarly, eradicating malaria and fighting poverty share a causal relationship that runs in both directions. Therefore, just as development policy should focus on both direct women empowerment and economic development, so too should developing countries focus on direct malaria prevention and economic development as a means to eradicate this deadly disease.
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Oct 29, 2013