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Daphine Mugayo
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While it is much easier to blame most of the pollution on China or the United States as nations, I feel like consumption has a lot to do with the current environmental change. I would strongly argue that environmental change needs to be considered an issue at the individual level such that each consumer takes feels responsible for the status quo and takes action to improve the address this concern. When we think of environmental protection as a treaty that needs to be signed between China, India and the US, we as consumers feel less responsible for environmental pollution. As was mentioned in class, while China is the major emitter, it does so to satisfy the demand of we the consumers. Thus at the start of the pollution cycle lies the consumers. To this point I would add consumption to the carbon emission function that we used in class. Take for example, the napkins we use at the marketplace. In efforts towards being a green campus, W&L marketplace asks students to separate the napkins they use during meals such that they can be recycled due to their carbon contribution. But as many students are not as mindful of this pollution hazard, they do not do as asked. Likewise, because China continues to argue against lowering its emissions, if consumers took initiative and raised the bar on the products they consume, maybe China would give in. That being said, I feel like we as consumers have a lot of power to change the environmental status, but are unaware of that. Actions such as reducing the amount we drive, the napkins we use, the paper we print. All these reductions in excess consumption would better the environment.
Looking to make a quick buck in Uganda, money lending is the "it" solution today. The money lending business has dramatically risen in Kampala, Uganda and targets just about anybody from people looking to start businesses, pay off debts, consumption, or even just to pay for classes. The ability for these lenders to provide an immediate source of cash has won them customers from different income brackets; low income, upper low income and even some middle income. These lenders exploit the urgency of these customers by raising the interest rates. As these businesses are mainly in the urban area, they do not favor the poor as you must produce collateral sufficient for the loan you are requesting. In this scenario, as these informal sources require less paper work, time and procedure for one to acquire a loan, many individuals seek them out in urgent need for cash, giving them an upper hand to exploit the customers. On the other hand, more and more microfinance businesses are rising. One question though, aren't microfinance firms often profit maximizing firms? Bauchet et al give great ideas on how these firms can be adjusted to benefit the poor but if microfinance firms are not primarily concerned for the poor, how are these changes supposed to be put in place? In other wards, what incentives exist for microfinance firms to adjust their structure in favor of poverty alleviation? On that note, I find it interesting that the paper did not look at microfinance organizations formed by individuals within particular fields such as microfinance firms by farmers or livestock owners? I feel like these would have the added advantage of experience in the field of practice, allowing for peer mentoring, sharing of knowledge and better understanding of economic goals. We saw these earlier in the course where they were seen as unsuccessful but also in this reading the authors emphasize that microfinance has generally been publicized as unsuccessful. One may argue that poor households are unable to save enough amongst themselves to start a microfinance, but such a setting could just as well be the reason to motivate these poor individuals to start saving. In such cases, if government/ public sector is able to further back such enterprises, I feel that this may be a better arena to provide formal loans to the poor.
This is a really interesting paper and very familiar too. It kills two birds with one stone, environmental sustainability and traditional sector development. What I find really interesting, is that I think the purpose of the paper, seems obvious to any decision. The more informed you are about an investment, the more likely you are to commit. Just like extra credit, when you know that it will add 15 points to your final, you will more likely do it than when you are not sure it will contribute to your grade. What is great about the paper is the ability to model it. I guess at the end of the day KRUGMAN wins! Agroforestry is also a growing issue in Uganda. As Uganda has an agricultural based economy, modern, more sustainable and productive methods of agriculture are being sought out. But as mentioned in the paper, it is key for farmers to be aware of Agroforestry and its advantages. To do so, the government of Uganda is pushing for more sensitization on this agricultural method in a number of ways; it has given out pieces of land to investors that are willing to plant trees in these rural areas. These investors are additionally taught methods of planting by experts in order to maximize their benefits and yields. By doing so, the nearness to farmers in these rural areas will expose these areas to the advantages of investment in this method. Additionally, as most of these investors have farms, they will be able to transfer this knowledge to their farmlands. They will also spread the word through their interactions with fellow farmers. By increasing the information and experience with tree farming, the government is increasing the human capital of farmers, lowering the uncertainty of investing in agroforestry and thus gradually creating a shift from traditional agricultural methods to more sustainable farming methods
Toggle Commented Nov 6, 2014 on Econ 280 for Thursday at Jolly Green General
The readings we have been assigned most recently have really portrayed the difficulties of being a child in a poor family in a developing country. From child labor to high malaria rates, growing up in such environments emphasizes Nussbaum and Sen's ideas on capabilities, freedoms and choice. Indeed malaria and poverty have a bidirectional causal relationship. Having grown up in a country with a high prevalence of malaria, I must say that deaths due to malaria have reduced but not been eliminated thanks to public sector efforts especially supplying of bed nets. A vast majority of the population has suffered from the disease atleast once but many, including myself, more than once. I think its interesting high population growth rates evident in developing countries have affected malaria looking at the urban cities. With urban populations rapidly increasing, there has been increased crowding in housing facilities which has increased the spread of the disease. Additionally, with limited land for housing construction, settlements in swampy areas/wetlands has increased yet such areas are breeding grounds for the mosquito parasites. Third, high urban populations have resulted in the development of slums which due to poor sanitation have increased breeding grounds for these mosquitoes. As tropical grounds breed these parasites, it seems a good intervention for this disease would be vaccination as its parasites cannot exactly just be rid of. In line with this is the flu, that is prevalent in temperate countries. With a flu shot, one is disease free and has an positive externality to the society. Malaria illness has a negative externality since once one's blood is infected, the parasite can transmit the disease to anyone in close proximity. But in the same context, investment in a vaccination would have a great positive externality creating a bigger marginal society benefit
Toggle Commented Oct 29, 2014 on Econ 280 for Thursday at Jolly Green General
Its interesting that we spoke about this aspect at the very beginning of this class noting the rationality of poor families sending their children to work rather than to school. Udry presents the rationality of the choices we spoke of in poor countries citing the lack of financial markets as a key issue that results in levels of child labor that are higher than the socially efficient levels. Like many other chapters, financial markets have been presented as a potential solution, and this begs the question of why these markets have not been developed all these years.It seems like the MSB are far greater than MSC of establishing financial markets in developing countries. I like that Udry proposes subsiding families sending children to school. Its a plausible solution but my big question is where would these funds come from in developing countries? Especially considering that these are often rural populations, this would mean reallocation of funds from urban areas to rural areas which would receive protest from urban tax payers. Most of the studies done with such policies are done on a smaller scale, making them more affordable. Additionally, the funding comes from foreign sources which could result in dependency. I guess the potential issue is that is subsidizing schooling a sustainable mechanism? Could the government take on such a policy on a large project considering the vast majority of the population in developing countries lives under high poverty conditions?
Toggle Commented Oct 22, 2014 on 280 Paper for Thursday at Jolly Green General
I agree with the two bloggers above, the author does make an enlightening point that many including myself could have missed with regards to the development of economic models. He acknowledges the advantages that models brought to the table but emphasizes the point that the period when these models were adapted suffered loss of theories like HDT that could not be modeled. The author gives great examples to illustrate his point but a key point I think he makes but does not deeply consider is the emphasis of the models at this time. In the 1950s the models that were developed focused on perfect competition and constant returns to scale, but none looked at economies of scale or oligopolies. I think that since these models were easier to build, it's what the school of economics focused on developing first. And the author mentions the need for simplicity in modelling. With time then, as economists got a good grip on how simple models worked and could be developed they begun to navigate more complex issues like oligopoly market structures and incorporate economies of scale. Thus, it is arguable that it was not necessarily that HDT was forgotten but focus was changed towards understanding the development and use of models. More so, it can be argued that efforts by economists like Hirschman were put in place to allow HDT to remain a focus while models continued to be developed that could encompass this theory.
Last week in class, we read Duflo's paper on the discussion of whether economic development is necessary for equality or whether equality is necessary for economic development. Duflo argued for the necessity of equity over efficiency costs. In this paper, the author seems to present another approach of looking at these two variables that seems very applicable to Duflo's question. The author justifies an equality function that is dependent on economic development. He argues for the need for simple short term growth strategies that create bursts of growth that would soon require for institutional development to sustain this growth. This argument seems plausible as he explains that the development of such institutions like those necessary for equity development have higher fixed costs and lower marginal costs. He brings to light the unreality of the idea of development of institutions required to deliver utmost equality in poor countries. It then becomes less surprising that the author does not list equality as one of the universal principles. From the reading, I presume that the author foresees equality coming into play once economies experience growth and begin creating institutions that are key to sustain this growth. This would justify the World Bank's idea that women empowerment is necessary for sustained growth and development. Thus if the author were to have a one on one with Duflo, he would argue for the need for short term development in poor countries which would easily be achievable by simple policy. This burst would then cultivate an environment that requires for institutions including those for equality, that would sustain the growth. Using his approach, you would do away with having to undertake Duflo's projected efficiency costs just to earn equality.
Toggle Commented Sep 28, 2014 on ECON 280 Paper at Jolly Green General
A lot of research has gone into looking at the effects of increasing the female's bargaining power in a household in order to improve childhood education, health and well being. Most have shown that there is a positive correlation between the two variables. With that idea grounded by earlier works, more literature has begun to grow on how this bargaining power can be increased to achieve these effects. Prof Blunch has looked at this issue in Ghana particularly looking at the effect of female adult education on childhood education. He observed through his data that the increased education of mothers increased the years of schooling and the academic achievement of their children. Its interesting That this paper looks at increasing bargaining power of a woman through conditional cash transfers. I would have hoped to see a control experiment in which they gave the money to a male head of the household. This is because these transfers do not contract any money from the family. It could be the case that even if these cash transfers were given to men, similar expenditure increases would be observed simply because the household income has increased. I would be interested in knowing whether these cash transfers triggered shifts in expenditure patterns due to shifts in bargaining power. This would then directly show that the cash transfers are leading to power shifts in the household reflected by the changes in consumption habits.
Toggle Commented Sep 25, 2014 on ECON 280 paper #1 at Jolly Green General
On a different note though, one major point that stands out for me that was not mentioned in the paper yet answers a number of questions is subsistence farming. Many poor families do not spend much on food because they are able to grow their own food. It is for this reason that they spend mainly on processed goods like sugar and cooking oil since they are unable to grow these goods. With large sizes of households, there is enough labor to cultivate these lands and have at least enough food to feed the family. Because this may be the main source of food and sometimes income for the family, farming becomes the main activity for the entire family even the children. Education becomes only a secondary goal since with no food, death and sickness triumph and education seizes to be any worth. The returns from subsistence farming are pretty limited and in that case, monetary savings are limited. One idea that comes in here is savings in form of dried foods. Although these are sometimes sold, they often come in handy as a source of food when the weather is unfavorable. But it is apparent that savings could be done in other forms rather than money or investment.
Toggle Commented Sep 18, 2014 on 280 reading for Thursday at Jolly Green General
If we are mainly looking at welfare of people, what stands out for me is that the poor just like the many other humans try to make decisions that make them the happiest. That being said, it seizes to be a surprise that they spend significant portions of their income on alcohol and tobacco. These goods, even though expensive help them escape the constant thoughts on their inadequate standards of living and in so doing somewhat act as stress relievers. More so, such activities are often social. They grow social networks and thus provide more happiness to the individual. Whether these activities are sustainable for the future, that could be questionable but their accessibility makes them primary choices. Looking through the same lens, setting aside money for festivals seems like a rational choice. The social nature of this activity of celebration is a major source of happiness to these families. It covers up the thoughts and stress of living under such minimal resources and brings everybody together. As no human being finds happiness in constant stress and torment, the poor too seek out activities that remind them of the joys of life. Such activities give them reason to continue living even a midst such intense poverty and political abandonment.
Toggle Commented Sep 18, 2014 on 280 reading for Thursday at Jolly Green General
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Sep 18, 2014