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Crosby Ellinger
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The article, "Turn Down the Heat" clearly lays out the potentially damaging effects of climate change and rising temperatures around the world, especially in developing countries. Like Jillian, my initial thought when reading this article brought me back to earlier in the semester, when we discussed how many developing countries were located in tropical climates, while developed countries were mostly located in sub-tropic environments. We learned that these tropical environments were one of the factors that limited developing countries in their overall production and GDP, as hotter climates often produce lower quality soil and have less water. This makes it more difficult for developing countries to expand, as they cannot reach the level of output to save and invest and grow their economy. This article ties into the lecture from earlier in the semester, as it mentions the effects of global climate change on these tropical environments, specifically that these areas will be impacted much more than other environmental zones. The article states, "Some estimates indicate that a 4°C warming would significantly exacerbate existing water scarcity in many regions, particularly northern and eastern Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia, while additional countries in Africa would be newly confronted with water scarcity on a national scale due to population growth." This illustrates that unless we make significant efforts to cutback on human factors that cause this temperature change, developing countries located in these regions will be extremely effected, as water shortages, among other factors would be exacerbated, resulting in drought, famine, and possible economic collapse, in agrarian societies. For me, this article is a call for reform for developed countries. While developed countries have the capital and technology to deal with this climate change (potentially atleast) developing countries do not, and will be effected far worse than developed countries. I think that it is imperative that the government works to create incentives moving forward both to increase research for cleaner energy, as well as cut back on carbon emissions.
"Does Trade Reduce Poverty" a research study conducted by Maëlan Le Goffa and Raju Jan Singhb, hits on one of the major themes of this course throughout the semester. This paper looks at the liberalization of trade, and its relation to poverty. One of the major results that the study found was that, "the effect of trade openness on poverty would depend on a variety of country characteristics". This has been a major theme of this course; that there is no cut and dry solution to solving poverty and inequality. Each country has its own unique characteristics, cultures, and systems, with unique problems of their own. This study finds that, as with any other potential "solution" to reducing poverty, its effect depends primarily on the country it is being used in. That is, while trade openness could work to reduce poverty in Asia, it might not significantly affect poverty levels in Africa. Furthermore, while the results of the study found that trade openness' impact on poverty is ambiguous, that does not mean that opening trade up in a specific developing country won't reduce the level of poverty. In conclusion, it is important to remember that there is no individual solution to eliminating poverty, but rather, certain ways in which we can work to reduce inequality in countries, and reduce the level of poverty. It is also important to remember, that each country is unique, and what works in one country won't always work in another, as this study provided.
Toggle Commented Dec 1, 2016 on Reading for Thursday at Jolly Green General
In "The Economic and Social Burden of Malaria" and "The Economics of Being Poor" one thing is touched on significantly: the health of the population. So far in this class, we have learned about different theories and approaches to improving the well-being standard of living and quality of life of the populations in developing countries as a means of development. I believe that the health of the population is one of the single most important factors in improving human capital, health, and overall development in most developing countries today. Last year, I took "Human Economics in Developing Countries" course with Professor Blunch. In that class, I was amazed to learn about all of the health concerns, especially in Africa, that developing countries face in everyday life that hinder development. For example, this paper harps on the effects of Malaria and the burden it has, but additionally, infections and parasites, TB, Hepatitis, dysetary, porr drinking water, and many other issues effect the health of many children and adults in developing countries. This is a significant issue because it not only results in poor health, but causes many people to miss out on important years of schooling, miss work, and not be able to contribute or learn as much due to poor health. This has a significant effect on both human capital and overall productivity of the population. I believe that tackling health issues really is a fundamental step in improving the lives of the poor in developing countries as well as improving and developing the economy. At worst, tackling these issues results in a better standard of living and better health for the poor population. At best, health is improved, which results in higher school attendance, higher human capital, more productive workers, more output, more investment, etc. that can drive an economy of a developing country upwards. Health issues such as malaria are a major concern for developing countries and have huge social and economic burdens. Tackling these issues would be a major step forward for these countries and these people.
Toggle Commented Nov 2, 2016 on Readings for Thursday at Jolly Green General
I found "Women Empowerment and Economic Development" by Esther Duflo to be a very interesting and well written article. I believe she does a great job laying out the issue and the different directions a country might take to improve inequality and increase economic development. For instance, Esther Duflo starts out by highlighting that there are two ways in which one can try to improve inequality in a country: promote economic development, which has a positive correlation with women's rights historically, or, improve inequality between men and women, which will result in economic development. The first thing that came to mind for me after reading this was China. Last year, I took Chinese Economy with Professor Smitka, and learned that although the economy has grown tremendously over the past several decades, women still suffer from inequality, which is illustrated in the skewed birth rates. Duflo later mentions this in her article, citing that although the economy has grown, the sex ratio has actually gotten worse, from 53% boys in 1970 to 57% boys in 1990. It was very interesting that Duflo used this point in her article, and I believe it backs up her argument that countries should take the approach of first improving inequality in society, instead of growing the economy. This is because, as illustrated above, growing the economy does not always improve inequality; however, by first improving inequality, a country can significantly increase its productivity and output, resulting in economic growth and development, while improving the standards of living for women.
Toggle Commented Oct 19, 2016 on Reading for Thursday at Jolly Green General
One of the points that I found interesting in the paper is when Rodrik illustrates that many of the past examples of economic growth were caused by relatively small changes in policy reforms. For instance, Rodrik highlights a table that lists specific countries and times in which they underwent economic growth (table 9). Many of the examples he calls "usual suspects" or examples in which the economists can name the type of policy reform that lead to the economic growth. However, many of the examples that Rodrik points out, such as Pakistan in 1979 or Syria in 1969 would, as Rodrik explains, cause economists to "draw a blank stare". Rodrik articulates this because he is trying to drive home the point that there is often a misconception that for economic growth to occur, there needs to be large policy reform, or a major change in the economic environment, etc. However, Rodrik is illustrating that history proves otherwise, and that most instances of economic growth are brought about by relatively small changes in policy.
Toggle Commented Oct 5, 2016 on Reading for Thursday at Jolly Green General
In "The Fall and Rise of Development Economics", Krugman highlights the "high economic theory" and illustrates why it unraveled even though it made a lot of sense. As an economics major, I tend to sit through many classes in anger at the simplicity of models that are attempting to describe or "map out" our economy. I understand that the economy is too complex to truly map out in a model, but I always wonder if the conclusions we draw from these models can be leading us in the wrong direction when we assume, for example, perfect competition, closed economies, etc. I also wonder to myself when a model makes sense, whether there are outside factors that we might be overlooking that affect the model, which usually turns out to be true. I believe this article is important as Krugman points out that while models are very useful in describing how the economy works, the bottom line is that the economy is too complex to ever map out on one simple model; therefore, Krugman urges not to get too caught up in models, and overlook important insights or concepts simply because it is not laid out or "formulated" in a model.
In the first 2 chapters of Amarta Sen's book, "Development As Freedom", Sen discusses the ways in which we measure economic and social development. Sen argues that while most economists study poverty and development through factual information such as income, GDP, etc, measuring a country's development and economic growth is much more complex than simply economic figures such as these. Sen articulates that wealth is not the actual good we are pursuing, but rather, a means to getting what we want. Sen uses this point to illustrate that a realistic view of development has to go beyond income statistics and variables, and focus more on enhancing the certain freedoms we receive. Additionally, development has to do with granting people with unfreedoms, such as inequality, denial of civil and political liberties, and economic insecurity, the opportunity to be able to participate and enjoy these values and freedoms. One particular point that Sen used to exemplify how income-related statistics are not, alone, enough to explain development, stuck out to me in the text. Sen described, in the relationship between Income and Mortality, that although African Americans in the United States have significantly higher incomes-per-capita on average than people born in "immensely poorer" economies of China, Chinese men tend to live significantly longer than African American men. Sen illustrates that the causal influences of this include social arrangements, medical coverage, education, prevalence of violence etc. I believe that this example fully exemplifies the point that Sen is making in that income statistics, while important in measuring poverty, standards of living, and overall development, do not fully describe what is occurring. Rather, Sen argues that we, as economists, must "go beyond" these statistics and measure the relative freedoms and unfreedoms to get a better since of development.
"The Economic Lives of the Poor" was a very interesting read, as it pointed out many areas of concern for those living in “poverty”, as well as some interesting and perplexing statistics that contradict certain assumptions that one might make of poor people and how they spend their money. For instance, I have some background in poverty and have learned that nutrition levels are often low for poor people, as they are not as educated on health and nutrition and often spend their money on food that is unhealthy, as the paper points out. However, I found it quite interesting to learn that in some countries, food represents only 56% of spending among the poor, while products such as tobacco and alcohol can make up as much as 8% of spending. Furthermore, another point that this article raised that I found intriguing had to do with how the poor earn their money. I found it interesting that many poor people tended to work as entrepreneurs, selling food and goods on the street, such as dosas and saris in India, instead of working conventional, low-skilled low wage jobs. One might assume that impoverished people would work low-paying, less skilled jobs and barely get by, but I found it fascinating that many of the poor people in these countries were actually being very creative in how they made money, working several different jobs, and finding certain niches to earn money.
Toggle Commented Sep 14, 2016 on ECON 280 Reading for Thursday at Jolly Green General
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Sep 14, 2016