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Elly Cosgrove
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What struck me the most about Esther Duflo’s piece, Women Empowerment and Economic Development, was a figure she threw out in the first paragraph: “Today, it is estimated that 6 million women are missing every year. Of these, 23 percent are never born, 10 percent are missing in early childhood, 21 percent in the reproductive years, and 38 percent above the age of 60.” I knew that Sen had mentioned the phenomenon of “missing women” in our reading earlier this week, but I did not realize the extent of how many women were “missing.” Duflo talks about a “bidirectional relationship” between economic development and women empowerment. Which leads to the other? Does empowerment lead to economic development of does economic development lead to better conditions for women/ empowerment? Duflo explores this idea. A point that she made that I really appreciated was that the number of life or death decisions a household has to make decreases when we alleviate poverty in those struggling households—pretty standard. However, when poor households face life or death decisions, choices are often made at the expense of women. She goes on to suggest that when poor households face a crisis, such as drought, flood, famine, vulnerable women suffer. When these crises happen, the murder of “witches” are more likely to occur than in a normal year. These findings and observations suggest that we can improve the welfare of women of all ages by reducing “the grip of poverty.” Duflo also goes on to discuss how increased income and education drives down fertility rates as well. Women have higher chance of dying from childbearing in developing countries, so decreasing fertility rates helps decrease the number of “missing women” at childbearing age. But Duflo says that there is enough evidence to believe that growth alone will not overcome discrimination within the home and among the opposite gender. Boys are still preferred over girls, which explains why 23 percent of girls are never born and why 10 percent go “missing” in early childhood. A first step is changing policy so that it favors girls and women. For example, a quota on how many women need to be represented in government. This leads to the question: Can women empowerment in turn lead to development? Women empowerment improves family outcomes, but not across the board, for example education. Duflo concludes that neither women empowerment nor economic development is the clear answer. What made me slightly uncomfortable, is that Duflo suggests that a desirable next step is to create policy that favors women at the expense of men. Is policy that uplifts women really not enough? Do we have to bring down the opposite gender or create policy “at the expense of men”? Also, what random experiments has Duflo conducted to explore this area? I was expecting to read more about her research, but did not feel as though she talked much about randomized experiments.
Toggle Commented Oct 18, 2018 on ECON 280 for Friday at Jolly Green General
The first thing I noted about Krugman’s work is his use of anecdotes to explain concepts to the reader—which I really enjoyed. For example, he talks about “the evolution of ignorance” and the evolution of European maps of the African continent from the 15th to the 19th century. He talks about how the art of mapmaking improved over time making the coast of the African continent almost identical to maps today. However, the interior became an empty mystery that did not include any sort of information including rivers and cities. Krugman’s point with this anecdote is that improved cartography ultimately led to better maps, but there was a period of lost knowledge. Krugman relates this to economics between 1940 and the 70s. An increase in “standards and rigor” had improved the knowledge and understanding in some areas, but also caused economists to not confront or tackle other areas new knowledge could not explain or understand. Krugman talks here about the shift away of high development theory and the inability of economists at the time to put economies of scale into a model. Krugman later mentions a meteorological theorist at the University of Chicago who studied the complexities of weather. He designed something to simulate global weather patterns using a dish pan, turning table, and heating and cooling elements. While this did not capture all the elements of the Earth, it created a simplified model that provided some insight into weather patterns. Krugman relates this to the social sciences in that economists between the 40s and 70s moved towards extremely complex ideas, arguments, theories and models that did not provide understandable insight into the developing world. Krugman encourages simple modeling in the social sciences as a starting point that can then be tested and manipulated. Krugman then provides an example of what he feels is an ideal model, which is a formal treatment of the classic model of high development theory, or Rosenstein-Rodan’s Big Push. Krugman says, “Our paper-and-pencil dish-pan -- our model economy -- consists of a set of assumptions about the supply of resources; technology; demand; and market structure.” Overall, Krugman argues that high development theorists at the time were not able to express their ideas in tight models. He argues that high development theory does in fact make sense and we now adopt the intellectual attitude that Hirschman rejected in his work The Strategy of Economic Development, which is “a willingness to do violence to the richness and complexity of the real world in order to produce controlled, silly models that illustrate key concepts.”
Toggle Commented Sep 27, 2018 on ECON 280 for Friday at Jolly Green General
I think Wang, Wong and and Yip do a great job breaking down the growth, or lack thereof, of many countries. Through thorough analysis, the authors were able to illustrate to the reader the factors that help or prevent an economy from growing and developing. With that being said, I don’t think they captured the full picture based on readings we had this past week, specifically in regard to Ch. Five in our textbook. For example, Wang, Wong and Yip begin with their analysis and documentation of fast-growing economies including Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Malaysia, Thailand, China, India, Botswana and Mauritius. It appears that across all 10 of these fastest-growing economies, there was investment in manufacturing and exports. There was investment in increased technology, industrialization and in some cases occupations like engineers and scientists. While this pushed high-wages and shifted production away from labor-intensive work to more high-technology activities, I think that the authors failed to analyze certain implications such investment might have. For example, in chapter five we talked about 1) modern-sector enrichment, 2) modern-sector growth and typology and 3) traditional-sector enrichment. While the first two focus on a growth in the modern sector, obviously, and high wages, I think it fails to create change for a large number of people in the traditional sector, thus creating greater income inequality. While these 10 fastest-growing economies were able to achieve such growth through investment of the modern sector and investment in technology/ exports, I wonder if poverty in the traditional sector saw any change. I think this is an issue that the authors failed to address. Another point that I thought was important, that many other classmates also picked up on, is the importance of political and financial institutions. This article emphasized a free market as well as an export-heavy economy and strong business infrastructure. It was intersting how similar the economies of the "Asian Tigers" were as displayed in Figure 1. Not only did the "Asian Tigers" or the fastest-growing economies follow a very similar path, but so did the trapped economies.
Toggle Commented Sep 20, 2018 on ECON 280 for Friday at Jolly Green General
What I found to be most notable about this viewpoint by Jeffrey Sachs is that Sustainable Development Goals "elude the entire planet." Unlike the Millennium Development Goals, where rich countries assist poor countries through finances and technology, SDGs present goals and challenges for all countries to face together. I also really appreciated Sachs' idea of a "triple bottom line," those including the categories economic development, environmental sustainability and social inclusion. These SDGs reach beyond what MDGs addressed. While MDGs addressed poverty, hunger, disease, unmet schooling, gender inequality, and environmental degradation, SDGs took all of these a step further. I especially appreciated SDG 2: "all nations will adopt economic strategies that increasingly build on sustainable best practice technologies, appropriate market incentives, and individual responsibility." Sachs' emphasis on the role of technology, government and the private sector was also interesting. I think having intermediate milestones for SDGs, something MDGs did not have, is completely necessary. A large part of these intermediate stages is the feedback and data that technology provides. Although I think that proposing all government at every level worldwide should cooperate to promote sustainable development is a beautiful idea, it is very optimistic and ambitious. Overall, I think if every country in the world worked to achieve these SDGs, then global conditions would improve dramatically. Sachs also did a nice job critiquing and applauding the impact of MDGs over the course of 15 years.
Toggle Commented Sep 13, 2018 on ECON 280 at Jolly Green General
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Sep 13, 2018