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Jillian Leigh
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While reading, "Turn Down the Heat," I kept remembering a paper we read earlier in the semester, " The Economic Lives of the Poor." When we discussed "The Economic Lives of the Poor" it was mentioned that the poorer countries, or developing countries, are typically located in the more tropical areas of the world, closer to the equator. This poses many restraints on their ability to efficiently produce agricultural goods, which is typically their main source of income. While I was reading "Turn Down the Heat" all I could think about was how climate change was going to effect these countries significantly more than developed countries. Not only are these countries not going to be able to afford any new technology to adapt to the new climate change, if nothing is done to prevent it from happening, but the result of this climate change is also going to stunt their development process. Also after our class discussion, I realized that these countries are probably not the biggest polluters, but are going to be the ones who feel the repercussions the most. Countries who are creating a lot of this pollution, for example China, are claiming that since other countries got to pollute their way to development, they should get to too. I have a hard time accepting this. When the US was going through the industrial revolution we didn't know the effects of the pollution we were creating. China has evidence that they are hurting the environment, and in turn hurting these developing countries. They have the means to find other eco-friendly ways to stay on the same track to development but choose not to because it's most likely easier just to pollute. On a global scale this seems incredibly unfair that the developing countries have to be punished for China, among other countries, development.
The overarching theme in “Does trade reduce poverty? A view from Africa,” by Maëlan Le Goff and Raju Jan Singh, is that trade liberalization alone does not reduce poverty. Le Goff and Jan Singh introduced the paper by stating that traditional trade theory “predicts welfare gains from openness at the country level through specialization, investment in innovation, productivity improvement, or a better resource allocation,” (pg 1) but the most recent literature argues against this. The goal of this paper was to “explore the empirical link between trade openness and poverty,” (pg 20). The results of their research supports the literature that trade liberalization alone does not reduce poverty. Le Goff and Jan Singh’s study also showed that in addition to either increasing education levels, deepening the financial sector and making institutions stronger, then trade liberalization can reduce poverty. This expansion on past literature is important because it supports both sides of the trade argument. It’s just clarifying the arguments by stating that trade may or may not improve poverty, it depends on what country you’re studying and the current state of this country. This paper supports a theme that I have been noticing throughout the semester, there is not one successful way to reduce poverty or help developing countries, basically it depends. In order to promote development in developing countries it depends on what that country needs. Every developing country is different and shouldn’t be given the same “treatment” to development. This article shows this by proving that just by opening up trade in developing countries does not mean it’s going to reduce poverty. It might work in one country, in addition to other policies, but it doesn’t mean that it’s going to work with all developing countries.
Toggle Commented Nov 30, 2016 on Reading for Thursday at Jolly Green General
The first economists to study the effects of interest rates in the US on developing countries focused on finding one explanation, just like the title of this paper suggests, "Interest Rates in the North and Capital Flows to the South: Is There a Missing Link." Eichengreen and Mody explain that initially there were two views on this topic. The first, "if the price and availability of foreign finance depend largely on conditions of the capital-importing countries…, then the borrowers should be able to regulate inflows by adopting the appropriate policies," (pg. 2). The second view, "If…the price and availability of funds depends heavily on external financial conditions,… then emerging markets may find themselves alternatively swamped by and starved of foreign capital," (pg.2). Then in the conclusion of the paper the authors state, "In sum, the fact that both supply and demand responses have been important and that the balance between them has differed by region and between fixed- and floating-rate issues goes a long way toward explaining why previous analyses which have overlooked these distinctions have failed to identify an interest-rate effect," (pg.24). What this paper has concluded is that there is not on missing link to explain the effect of interest-rates. The two views introduced at the beginning of the paper neglected to realize is that there isn't just one overarching effect, the effects are very situational. This is a theme that I have noticed after reading many of the articles this term. The reason that the Washington Consensus didn't work was because it focused on one way to help developing countries rather than individualized programs that incorporate the differences of each country. The economists mentioned in the beginning of this paper supported either the first view or the second view. What they missed was that they were both wrong because some of the country's results supported their view while others supported the other. This just proves again that there isn't just one missing link, rather a unique one for each country.
Toggle Commented Nov 16, 2016 on Readings for this week at Jolly Green General
After reading Theodore Schultz's Nobel prize speech it made me wonder why governments aren't focusing on improving human capital. Schultz gave this speech in 1979 and in class on Tuesday, 37 years later, we are still discussing how focusing on improving human capital is an effective way to improve the lives of people living in poverty. In class we discussed the Educational Production Function and the returns to education, Schultz also mentions the investment in education. This reminded me of a program that my mom and I got involved with in high school called the Red Sweater Project. The goal of the Red Sweater Project is to create affordable, accessible and advanced educational opportunities for children in rural Tanzania. Their mission is to put as many children in red sweaters as possible to readily equip them with adequate skills for the work force, directly combating the cycle of extreme poverty. Directly above their mission in bold it also states, "Research has also proven that secondary school training for girls in the developing world has a higher return on investment than any other effort." I found this interesting because Schultz also makes a comment on women's empowerment in connection to economic development, which all connects back to what we had discussed two weeks ago in class. Looking back at the discussions we've had in class it's very clear to me that investing in women's empowerment is an easy way to jumpstart and sustain economic development. I understand that I am not an economist or a policy maker, but after the past few weeks of class I can't comprehend why policy makers aren't taking advantage of this. I understand that women have always been treated as less than men, but that idea needs to be put aside because there is clear evidence that women's empowerment leads to economic development.
Toggle Commented Nov 2, 2016 on Readings for Thursday at Jolly Green General
While reading Duflo's article "Women Empowerment and Economic Development" I realized how lucky I am to have been born in a country that has made major strides in gender equality, even though we still have a long way to go. This article reminded me about when I started to swim competitively my mom told me about how when she was in middle school in order to be a serious female athlete you had to go to boarding school. When she was in 7th grade she had been figure skating for years and in order to get to the next level she either had to leave home or give it up. There were no programs in the area that offered a program she could participate in and girls sports in general didn't have as much support as boys sports. Looking back at where I was with my swimming in 7th grade, it was drastically different. I was on multiple teams, that didn't discriminate against anyone for any reason, and could push myself to any level I wanted with out having to leave home. I realized that in women's sports as a country we've made many strides in the past 30 years, as I am able to compete at a collegiate level, while my mother had to give up something she loved at a young age. Women's sports still has a long way to come in order to be held at the same level as men's sports and it is only a fraction of the gender inequality issue in the US. I also realized while reading this article that I felt a little uncomfortable that a country that still has a long way to go is the one that is providing guidance for developing countries. Although we are a lot more progressive than a lot of countries when it comes to gender inequality, I can't help but think that it's a little hypocritical that we're telling these countries how to achieve gender equality when we still have a long way to go before we also reach that goal.
Toggle Commented Oct 19, 2016 on Reading for Thursday at Jolly Green General
After reading Rodrik's "Growth Strategies" I had a difficult time deciding what to write my blog post about. In order to get inspired I read a couple other student's posts to see what their ideas were about the paper. The one post that stood out to me was Matthew Jones' asking "how much free will should we be willing to sacrifice in order to ensure economic prosperity and economic development?" His question and ideas about how limiting freedoms in order to stimulate economic growth were not something I had thought about while reading, but I did agree with the points he made. These ideas reminded me of a project a family friend started with the Maasai tribes in Tanzania. With the modernization and tourism attractions moving to Tanzania the Maasai the nomadic aspects of their culture have been drastically limited. As a result of this they are unable to breed their cattle, which they use to barter and trade. Since they are no longer migrating, their cattle trade has drastically dropped and caused major issues for this community's economy. In order to stimulate the Maasai economy and economic development, a family friend of mine has started Maasai Honey. Maasai Honey is a brand of honey that is made by the Maasai and sold in the United States. My friend travels to Africa twice a year to teach this community how to build and maintain beehives, as well as bottle and prepare the honey for sale. This program has faced major challenges because the Maasai people do not want to change their culture and tradition surrounding cattle trade. The Tanzanian government has limited their freedom to migrate and freedom to practice their own culture by limiting their migration. As a result of this their economic growth has actually come to a plateau. I think this problem is a good example of Rodrik's idea that each developing economy cannot follow a strict list of steps to development. For example, Tanzania cannot follow western development ideas because the culture and the freedoms these people desire are not similar.
Toggle Commented Oct 5, 2016 on Reading for Thursday at Jolly Green General
While reading "The Rise and fall of Development Economics" I appreciated his use siting different papers to help get his main ideas across. The paper I thought was very helpful was "The evolution of European ignorance about Africa," (pg. 3). This paper describes the changes in European maps of Africa from the 15th to 19th centuries. In the 15th century these maps were relatively inaccurate about coastlines and distances among other things, This was a result of the fact that the information being used to create the maps typically was second hand from travelers. By the 18th century the coastline had become more accurate on these maps, but the interior emptied out, the real cities and rivers had disappeared from the maps (pg. 4). Finally by the 19th century the maps of Africa were accurate. After reading about this paper, I found it significantly easier to understand what happened to development economics between the 1940s and 1970s. In addition it also helped me further understand his argument about models. Maps are obvious models, and easy ones to understand. Like a model they are over simplified to help you view an area. For example if you look at the map of Africa again you will notice that on the right there is the Indian Ocean and on the left there is the Atlantic Ocean. It can also tell you that Africa is south of Europe and that Madagascar is off the right coast. Just like a model it is oversimplified to help people understand where Africa is in the world, where the countries with in Africa are, and how some of the basic terrain is. What maps cannot tell you about Africa is the culture of each country, the animals that inhabit each area, the different languages spoken, and so much more. Just like economic models, in order to understand where countries are in the world you must simplify the country down to just it's basic location. You may be able to draw minimal conclusions about a place you've never been from a map, but until you've been there you won't understand much about that place. This is similar to a model that you may be able to draw some conclusions from it, but what happens in reality might not match up with the models predictions. Finally I also really enjoyed Krugman's closing remarks, "nd for those, like me, who basically try to understand the world through the metaphors provided by models, the advice is not to let important ideas slip by just because they haven't been formulated your way. Look for the folk wisdom on clouds -- ideas that come from people who do not write formal models but may have rich insights. There may be some very interesting things out there. Strangely, though, I can't think of any," (pg. 12-13).
I found it very interesting how Sen defined freedom in the first to chapters of Development as Freedom. Similar to Elizabeth Wolf's post, when I hear the word freedom I also immediately think of the freedoms we have as American citizens, like the freedom to vote, freedom of speech and many more. Sen defines freedoms differently than the U.S. Constitution. Sen believes there are "Five distinct types of freedom… political freedoms, economic facilities, social opportunities, transparency guarantees, and protective security," (pg. 10). Sen continues on to say that these freedoms help "to advance the general capability of a person," (pg. 10). While reading these chapters I had a difficult time reminding myself that the freedom people living in developing countries were far less complex that the freedoms I associate with the word freedom. For example, in order for these countries to develop the people deserve the freedom to live a full life and not pass prematurely. These basic freedoms are something that I have a hard time remembering because they are something I take completely for granted, like clean drinking water, sanitation, and enough food to eat. In addition to changing how I thought of freedoms, I also had to change my definition of poverty. Initially when I think of someone who is impoverished, the first thing that comes to mind is that they do not have a lot of money. Sen defines poverty as "a deprivation of basic capabilities, rather than merely low income," (pg. 20). I think focusing on this definition will help me a lot when I'm reading the later chapters in this book .
While reading "The Economic Lives of the Poor" I thought a lot about how the media portrays these developing countries. As a photography minor I've studied many photographers who travel the world and document how the poor live, such as Walker Evans. The focus of many of these photographers is to capture the poor living conditions and make their subjects look malnourished. While reading this article I pictured many of these images I've studied and realized that although these subjects were starving they might not be as miserable as the photographers portrayed them. This article brought up and interesting point that, "the poor generally do not complain about their health - but then they also do not complain about life in general either. While the poor certainly feel poor, their levels of self-reported happiness are not particularly low." These photographers did not capture the poor's social gatherings, weddings, or festivals. They only focused on the negative aspects of their lives. It made me question whether these images were helping or hurting the world's view of the poor in developing countries. These people are lacking more than just nutritious food. The definition of a 'poor' person needs to be updated from "someone without enough to eat." I think that if we update how the world views these developing countries there might be a greater impact on how they are helped. There were many topics discussed in "The Economic Lives of the Poor" that never reach the media. Also, we cannot assume that every developing country needs the same things. Looking at recent images of developing countries they all seem very similar. Meanwhile this article is about how although they are developing countries, not one of them are facing the same issues as the next. For example, the availability varies drastically between countries. For example in Udaipur none of the poor have access to running water while 36 percent of the poor in Guatemala do. I think these differences need to be broadcasted and the photojournalists who document the lives of people in developing countries need to broaden their subject matter as well.
Toggle Commented Sep 14, 2016 on ECON 280 Reading for Thursday at Jolly Green General
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Sep 14, 2016