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George Park
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I always had this idea in my head that climate change was bad, but I had never actually done any substantial reading on climate change before reading this article. Suffice to say, I was extremely shocked and horrified at how much of a growing threat it is. Aside from scaring me to death, the article really highlighted some of the major themes we have been talking about in class. Just like how we talked about how the negative effects of forgoing conservation would impact the poorest regions most on Tuesday, the author of this article writes, “the distribution of impacts is likely to be inherently unequal and tilted against many of the world’s poorest regions,” giving examples like how the sea-level rise is likely to be larger in the tropics. The article also highlighted the two-sided relationship between economic development and climate change (i.e. ED = f(CC) and CC = f(ED). Furthermore, it revealed that the negative impacts resulting from climate change are all interrelated and, in ways, functions of each other. The article talked about solving the problem through international collaboration. I was a little disappointed by how brief and vague this was. I would have loved to read more about the types of collaborative policies that might be effective in fighting climate change.
Toggle Commented Nov 11, 2015 on ECON 280 for next Thursday at Jolly Green General
Though I really liked reading Schultz’s insights about how quality of a population matters more than quantity, and the under appreciated importance of agriculture, I felt like most of it was review from things we talked about last class and classes before. That being said, I especially enjoyed reading the malaria article because 1) it changed my perspectives on the two-sided relationship between malaria and poverty and 2) it contained tons of information that was relevant to things we have already talked about. Before reading the article, I had always thought of high malaria incidence as something that was the product of high cases of poverty and that would decrease with economic growth. However, the article challenged that notion by discussing the negative economic effects of malaria. Like some of my peers have mentioned, I did not realize how drastic of an effect one single disease could have on economic growth and poverty. The article also discussed all kind of things (directly or indirectly) that we have talked about in this class and other econ classes, such as foreign direct investment, social vs private costs and benefits, risk-averse vs risk taker behavior, solow growth model, and women empowerment. It was really neat to see how all the things we have been learning are starting to tie in together as the class progresses. My brain was drawing all kinds of connections to past lectures and readings as I read the article.
Toggle Commented Nov 4, 2015 on econ 280 for Thursday at Jolly Green General
One thing that I really liked about the article was the way that the author explained how economists think and make policies, like the example of how a Western economist would try to help China on page 7. In econ we talk a lot about economic ideas and concepts, but don’t always get to see the way they are applied to create policies. I recognize that, in the example I gave, the author was trying to say that the Western economist thought process is not the only way to achieve certain goals and that the Chinese government actually achieved those goals using a very different process, but I still enjoyed seeing the thought process behind it all. I think that the article tied in very well with the types of discussions that we have been having in class. A lot of people in our class have been posting on this thread about how the article shed light on how there is no single solutions strategy, or formula for promoting growth. Reading this paper and their comments made me think a lot about my time in Belize this summer. I would never expect policies used in a country like China to be equally effective in promoting growth in a country like Belize, where the economic, political, and social climate are so different.
Like most people have said, I think this article does a great job of illustrating how the poor make choices and the environments that they make these choices in. One thing I really liked about this reading is the way that the authors provide possible explanations for why the poor make certain decisions. For instance, when reading this, a cynical person might be quick to criticize the poor for their low levels of “good consumption” instead of spending on alcohol, tobacco, and festivals. A cynical person might also be quick to attribute this behavior to a lack of self-control. However, Duflo and Banarjee present the possibility that eating more may not help them much in the long run because of the risk of disease. They also provide evidence that this behavior cannot be explained by a lack of self-control because the poor do spend on other things that require saving, namely entertainment. The authors talk about how self-reported happiness levels are not low among the poor. This got me thinking about the relationship between poverty and happiness, which was something that was constantly on my mind while volunteering in Belize through the Shepherd Program. During my eight-week stay there, I spent an entire week doing survey work with the Red Cross and Florida State in San Mateo, an extremely poor neighborhood on the island. As I went door to door and talked to the people living in the neighborhood, I encountered so many people who appeared to be happy and optimistic, despite the harsh conditions they were living in. This was extremely surprising to me for obvious reasons, and is something that I am still grappling with. Another thing worth discussion is the relationship between poverty, happiness and meaningfulness. Here’s a cool article that Professor Pickett sent me recently on the topic: I would love to know other people's opinions on all of this.
I pretty much just want to echo what everyone else on this blog has been saying. Like Hugh, I often find myself frustrated with how much things get simplified in economics. In life things aren't just magically held ceteris paribus for you. However, the author did a great job illustrating the importance of simplified models. Bringing up Dave Fultz, a scientist whose work is widely accepted even though he essentially modeled the earth with a flat dish, really put things into perspective for me. I think I saw Jacqueline talk about this too as I skimmed through the comments, but I didn't really like the note that the author ended on. He advises people to look for good ideas from people who don't write formal models, but then kind of just concluded that models are 100% necessary and that the "intellectual waste"that occurs from strict adherence to models is inevitable. It just seemed contradictory and overly pessimistic. Maybe there is a happy middle ground through which we can continue to rely on models but lessen the amount of intellectual waste that occurs in the process.
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Sep 16, 2015