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Nick Anders
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In Esther Duflo’s paper, she raises the question of whether economic development breed empowerment of women or does the empowerment of women breed economic development. Furthermore, she wonders if the connectivity of the two could possibly result in a self-sustaining cycle of improvement. I believe that it is important to implement policies that focus on both issues independently in many cases. By doing so, not only are the spillover effects still present, but awareness regarding these issues is being spread. Making sure people are aware of the areas in need of improvement is arguably the most important step in bettering the situations, as without support, nothing will last. Without reading a paper such as this, many people may be unaware of the interconnectivity of development and gender, possibly resulting in missed opportunities of improvement, furthering the need for the presence independent policies. Additionally, it is important introduce some policies that focus on gender equality independently of development because in some cases, such as in India, improvements in economic development and technology have actually increased gender discrimination with the introduction of sex-selective abortions. Because of this, it is important introduce gender equality policies not only to offset this increase in discrimination, but to also reinforce a commitment to bettering women’s situation and giving them the support and confidence to become agents fighting for equal opportunity. However, although it is important to impose policies that focus on both of these issues individually, I believe that there are some areas in which a policy could be implemented that adheres both to economic development and gender equality. For instance, Esther Duflo mentioned the disparity of access to health services between men and women in poor households; women are less likely to receive adequate care when ill compared to men. That said, the likelihood of such families having access to sufficient care is unlikely to begin with. Therefore, a policy designed to simply improve healthcare access to the poor would not only improve the lives of such families, thus promoting economic development, but would also benefit women specifically, providing them with more services. All in all, after reading this paper, I wonder whether or not an impactful change in development and gender equality can occur within developing countries without first changing the cultural way of thinking both men and women.
Toggle Commented Oct 18, 2018 on ECON 280 for Friday at Jolly Green General
One of the things I liked about Krugman’s paper was his view on the role that models play in the world. He argues that for all areas, the only perfect model that exists is the system itself, such as the global weather system. All models that try to replicate this system, no matter how “good” they might be, are incomplete and have “some degree of falsification”, as many aspects of reality are left out of consideration. On top of that, as models become more sophisticated and accurate, there is a level of ignorance that comes as well. He gave the example of African cartography and explained how as maps of the African coastline became more precise, the interior of the continent was left essentially blank, leaving out rivers, mountains, etc. His point here was that as knowledge about economics grew in many areas, some areas were neglected due to a lack of understanding and explanation. Krugman argues that “a rise in the standards of rigor and logic led to a much improved level of understanding of some things, but also led to an unwillingness to confront those areas the new technical rigor could not yet reach.” Furthermore, I liked how Krugman was very straightforward regarding the vast number of assumptions needed for models to work and how rarely all of them are met. Going back to some of our earlier classes, I recall talking about some models and the assumptions that went along with them. However, some of the assumptions seemed a little farfetched and being in a situation where all of them were met was highly unlikely. Krugman recognizes this and highlights the fact that models are designed to be predictors. He suggests that the important thing to remember is that “models are maps rather than reality.” Finally, Krugman raised a question at the end of his paper that had struck me earlier while reading his work: Where would not only high development theory, but also economics as a whole be if we were able to avoid a large level of ignorance between the 1940’s and 1970’s? One can only speculate what could have been, but Krugman makes an interesting point regarding this, saying that ignorance is the cost of progress. In order to make strides in understanding the complexity of the world we live in, sacrifices are going to have to be made; ignorance is inevitable. This view raises another question: If development economics had not been pushed to the side, would something else have been and if so, what would it have been?
Toggle Commented Sep 27, 2018 on ECON 280 for Friday at Jolly Green General
Wang, Wong, and Yip made many interesting points throughout this paper. The most interesting segments for me were the ones that discussed the shortcomings of the trapped and lag-behind countries, for these are the nations needing the most reform to help them become similar to the “Asian Tigers” and other fast-growing countries. Their argument shines light on a few commonalities among these countries, displayed in Table 4. This immediately caused me to recall Sen’s stance on the role of political institutions in Development as Freedom, in which he argues that institutions have the responsibility of providing citizens with the necessities for a healthy life (i.e. clean water, healthcare, education, etc.). However, as made apparent in this paper, these institutions are a real detriment to the development of the country if they are not efficient and pure. We see this in places like Latin America and Brazil where there is a concerning amount of corruption present. This corruption likely leads to severe government misallocation and financial instability, two more contributors to the lagging performance of these lesser countries, suggesting that these factors are functions of one another. Without a healthy role of institutions, lag-behind countries are going to have a steep climb ahead of them to get on par with the Asian Tigers. Additionally, many of the trapped/lagging countries have agriculture-based economies, such as Côte d’Ivoire and its reliance on cocoa. Not only does that make their economies very volatile – the economy will react to the changes in their respective commodity's price – but the lack of sufficient R&D will make it extremely difficult for the nations to develop more into an industrial-based economy. Wang, Wong, and Yip argue that industrialization is essential for sustained economic growth, but without a commitment to R&D, these countries are going to have a tough time seeing improvements within their countries.
Toggle Commented Sep 20, 2018 on ECON 280 for Friday at Jolly Green General
In this article, Jeffrey Sachs raises many interesting and valid points regarding the Sustainable Development Goals, the most intriguing being the different role wealthy nations are to play compared to their involvement in the Millennium Development Goals. Before, these developed countries were looked at to lend a helping hand to the struggling nations, but when it comes to sustainability, every country is impacted and has a stake in what is at hand. Because of this, Sachs argues that it is imperative that all nations are willing to do their part in preserving and repairing the globe. Furthermore, Sachs emphasizes the significance of focusing on the young and breeding the next generation for success, preparing them to enter the labor market and succeed. I think that we can go a step further and instill the necessary knowledge within children that is required to help the Earth. By teaching them at a young age the sustainability issues we are facing, they will be more likely to think and act in a more environmentally friendly way when they grow up. Like Sachs mentioned, I think it is extremely important to implement intermediate goals along the way, something the MDG’s did not do. Because the plan he laid out is on such a large scale, it will be difficult to act on it efficiently without any sorts of checks throughout the process. Additionally, by introducing these, it gives nations that are on the fence about joining a chance to get a glimpse of the effects of taking action, hopefully propelling them into assisting in this global cause. Sachs’ also mentions the vital role that the private sector is going to play in the success of these SDG’s. Getting significant cooperation out of this sector might be a little more difficult than he anticipates as many companies act on what is best for them, not worrying about those around them necessarily. They may also be hesitant because of the costs of transitioning to a more eco-friendly structure, such as using low-carbon energy systems. I think if companies were offered some sort of financial compensation of any magnitude for integrating sustainability into their company, a larger portion of the private sector is likely to participate in achieving these SDG’s.
Toggle Commented Sep 13, 2018 on ECON 280 at Jolly Green General
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Sep 13, 2018