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Cordelia Peters
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Duflo argues that the interrelationship of women’s empowerment and economic development is too weak to be self-sustaining and therefore public policy is necessary to create sustainable progress. She discusses that economic development alone is not enough to bring about complete equality between men and women. Likewise, women’s empowerment improves children's welfare, but it doesn’t solve all of our problems. This essay emphasized the importance of the state to this process. The state should promote economic development by providing fundamental goods to all people and promote women’s empowerment by enhancing women’s legal rights. Women face many barriers such as inheritance laws and property rights that limit their ability to participate in the economy. Women in India are unlikely to have collateral to apply for a loan until the inheritance laws are changed. Violence against women persists because laws do not exist, or they are not enforced. These are two examples of barriers that limit women from fully participating in the development process and that need to be lifted by the government. Duflo concludes that neither women’s empowerment nor economic development are sufficient. She then suggests policy action that favors women at the expense of men. I found this somewhat unsettling. It seems counterintuitive that a policy for gender equality would come at the expense of one of the genders. Does gender need to be a zero-sum game? Do we need to push down men in order to push up women? The fact that many of the issues discussed in this paper are also true in the US today is extremely disheartening. Gender stereotypes persist in spite of income and economic development. At all levels of income, women do the majority of the housework. Increasing income does not release the “double bind” of women. How high does a woman’s income need to be before she can turn the household duties over to the husband? How long will it take men to accept a role within the household? The double bind for women will persist globally until the very fundamental stereotype of women as home makers goes away. This cannot happen through government intervention but will occur slowly as cultural norms change over time.
Toggle Commented Oct 18, 2018 on ECON 280 for Friday at Jolly Green General
I loved reading this article, especially following our discussions this week about different models. Each model that we discussed had certain key assumptions; it seemed as if these assumptions were pivotal to the outcomes of the model, but also were the primary weaknesses of the model. I found each model's oversimplification of the world to be unsettling and made me wonder how useful they really are. With the exception of China and other countries where the government enforces policies which can make the assumption of the models true, the models do not accurately depict many societies. My key takeaway from this article was that while that much knowledge is lost when we develop a model, there are no alternatives. Instead, we must be aware of the model's shortcomings and focus on its essential point. The anecdote about the European depiction of Africa was really interesting. It described how improved techniques in map making led to loss of information about Africa. In my global politics class, we recently read an article about how the rise of mapping technologies led to the emergence of the state. We also explored how Europe and the US are often depicted disproportionally larger than South America and Africa; the map reflects western feelings of superiority. Also, there is no rational reason behind why Europe is always drawn above Africa-it could be the other way around. Maps are widely distributed and the way that they are drawn effects the teaching of students in school and the perceptions of younger generations. This relates to Krugman's article because the models that we use influence the way that we perceive certain institutions, countries, economic policies etc. A model is easy to teach, and something that is simplified and reproducible is more likely to endure (just like maps where Europe is drawn larger). In this way, simplified models, however flawed they may be, continue to play a big role in economic policy and research.
Toggle Commented Sep 27, 2018 on ECON 280 for Friday at Jolly Green General
I found this article very interesting in relation to an annual report by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation that tracks progress on 18 key SDGs, which was released this week. The report wrote that extreme poverty is becoming heavily concentrated in Sub-Saharan Africa. The report concludes that poverty persists and is prevalent in these areas because of "violence, political instability, gender inequality and other deep-seated crises." This assessment of the primary causes of poverty was reiterated in the Wang article. Wang identifies that government misallocation, corruption, and financial instability have been key barriers causing countries to fall into poverty or to lag behind. The correlation seems extremely strong. The Ivory Coast is one of the most corrupt countries in the world, Comoros has political instability, Kenya is vulnerable to financial and price instability etc. Additionally, the section on India reminded me of our conversations about state-led versus market-led economies. From 1900 to ~1950 India's state took control of industries and implemented restrictive trade policies. India's choice to establish a state-led system doesn't surprise me given the turmoil created by Indian independence and Partition in 1947. Wang then writes that the liberalization of trade and the capital market in the 1970s led to rapid growth in the 1990s. I can understand how the pro-business attitude of the government promoted economic growth both domestically, as Indian citizens became agents of change, and also internationally, as other countries sought growth in India. Today, the government's support of the private sector has increased investor sentiment toward Indian companies. For example, Bangalore has become a hub for entrepreneurs and high-tech startups and is attaching both domestic and international investors.
Toggle Commented Sep 19, 2018 on ECON 280 for Friday at Jolly Green General
Like many of my classmates, I find the SDGs to be an exciting step in the right direction, but I also find them overly optimistic and perhaps unrealistic. For example, SDG2 will be very difficult for developing countries to achieve. From what I understand, developing countries are the least environmentally friendly and have the highest carbon emissions. Sustainability is expensive. Developed countries like the US are investing large amounts of time and money to find sustainable solutions and still add to the climate crisis. Even with the wealth of resources that we have in the US, we struggle to live in an environmentally friendly and sustainable way. If rich countries cannot find a solution, then what makes you think that poorer countries can? It is unrealistic to expect a developing country to move towards a low-carbon energy system or sustainable food system. Many people in developing countries are facing chronic hunger and are not concerned with their carbon emissions. They are concerned with where their next meal is coming from. Therefore, I find it unrealistic for developing countries to achieve SDG2 until they have achieved SDG1. In the discussion of SDG4, the paper mentions that sustainability requires the leadership and responsibility of the private sector and the public sector; Both corporations and the government are crucial to the success of the SDGs. I am extremely skeptical of public corporations and the current political environment. Firstly, the largest public corporations are chiefly concerned with returning value to their shareholders. Unfortunately, advocating for impoverished communities and reducing carbon emissions does not translate to higher earnings. Often, reducing carbon emissions or having large CSR programs reduces the bottom line for public companies. Incentive structures motivate executives to increase earnings, not to protect the environment. Additionally, the current US president has demonstrated a lack of interest in sustainability (as demonstrated by his withdrawing from the Paris agreement, among other things) and a nationalist agenda. The president is chiefly concerned with building the US economy and is cutting ties with international trade partners. His attitude towards the environment and isolationist economic policies make me skeptical that the US will achieve these SDGs. I agree with Sachs' critique of the MDGs. The addition of intermediate milestones to the SDGs will help policy makers evaluate the progress they are making and whether they need to increase their efforts. The data also needs to be accurate. I am somewhat skeptical that accurate data will be available from every country. As Sachs' suggests, it would have profound effects if governments invested in a real-time reporting systems for the SDGs. The ability to track progress will be vital in determining which policies and plans are effective and which are not.
Toggle Commented Sep 14, 2018 on ECON 280 at Jolly Green General
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Sep 13, 2018