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Maggie Phipps
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This paper did not make me feel like I won the gender lottery, but I am lucky to be born in a developed country. Esther Duflo seems to be analyzing a “chicken or egg” type of argument. Does economic development result in the empowerment of women, or does the empowerment of women lead to economic development? I believe that this question circles back nicely to Amartya Sen’s analysis of women’s welfare versus women’s agency. The argument that economic development relieves inequality between men and women seems to stem more from a welfare standpoint. If living standards for women are increased by economic development, then they will eventually encounter more gender equality. On the other hand, Sen’s concept of agency matches better with the argument that providing women with more rights will benefit economic development overall. Duflo concludes that neither argument supersedes the other, but increasing women’s rights is still an important goal. I think Sen and Duflo would agree on certain concepts of agency, for example, giving women the choice to divorce their husbands without becoming financially unstable helps the family dynamic equalize. That being said, I think Sen is quicker to draw positive conclusions about agency. For example, Duflo is skeptical about giving women property rights. It’s not that Duflo disagrees with it, but in areas like Burkina Faso, the family dynamic is so dysfunctional that it becomes counterproductive. Rather than pooling together resources to increase production, men and women farm separately. Women do not trust men to rent their plots of land, signaling issues within the family dynamic. Sen appears to have a more optimistic look at increasing women’s agency, but perhaps Duflo’s is more realistic.
Toggle Commented Oct 18, 2018 on ECON 280 for Friday at Jolly Green General
I appreciated this reading because it’s the first text I’ve come across that has acknowledged some of the downfalls and confusion surrounding models. I wish I had read it early on in my Econ 100 course. Many of the complaints about models that were recognized in this paper were the same criticisms that my classmates had about the models we were learning about in the introductory course. I noticed that students who were struggling with basic models, such as supply and demand curves, monopoly curves, or the PPF model, just couldn’t accept the simplifications that these models required. The section in this paper called “Metaphors and Models” would have really helped with this sort of confusion. I really liked how Krugman was able to explain the process of modeling in one sentence: “You make a set of clearly untrue simplifications to get the system down to something you can handle; those simplifications are dictated partly by guesses about what is important, partly by the modeling techniques available.” Krugman also explains that for every model, we gain something, but also lose something. While we do have to make simplifications, and thus “lose” certain factors to create a model, Krugman explains that we gain insight on why the complex system behaves the way it does. Of course, if we’re losing more than we’re gaining, the model isn’t worthwhile. Other complaints that Krugman noted were that models can be politically motivated, or even insult our intelligence with their simplicity. I definitely agree with this criticism that models can be politically motivated, but I don’t see that as a flaw with models. Rather, the person creating the model and demonstrating arguments with political bias should correct themselves. I do not agree that models insult our intelligence. Fultz’s dishpan model was extremely simplified, but it told us something about the global weather pattern. If a model can tell us something, it’s only strengthening our intelligence. I agree with Krugman’s praise for models and their ability to help us understand complex systems through necessary simplification.
Toggle Commented Sep 27, 2018 on ECON 280 for Friday at Jolly Green General
This article narrowed down the factors that caused the lag-behind countries’ growth to stagger to unnecessary protectionism, government misallocation, corruption, and financial instability. Relative TFP and institutional barriers also played huge roles in determining which countries would experience growth and which would fall into development traps. I found it useful that the quantitative data for all of the countries was followed by a brief reasoning for why each country got to its point. I noticed a pattern in each country’s description; interactions with other countries had a huge effect on domestic growth. While most of these “interactions” include trade, an obvious source of growth, there seem to be other ways that countries can influence each other. For example, I found it very interesting that it was noted that in South Korea, high schoolers are required to take Japanese. The article credited a large portion of South Korea’s growth with its ability to interact with and model Japanese business structure. The article also proved that a country’s reliance on international markets and relationships can come with a cost. For example, Greece experienced tremendous growth prior to 1970. As a member of NATO and adopter of the euro, it seems odd that Greece would be with the laggards. Unfortunately, the country suffered greatly from both the financial crisis that originated in the United States in 2009, well as the European sovereign debt crisis. This shows that a country’s ability to globalize and participate in international trade does not safeguard it from economic downturn.
Toggle Commented Sep 20, 2018 on ECON 280 for Friday at Jolly Green General
In this article, I think that Jeffrey Sachs was able to respectfully identify specific flaws within the Millennium Development Goals while also recognizing that they did achieve notable success. Sachs identified flaws within the MDGs, such as having no intermediate milestones, as well as a lack of commitment. For example, the MDGs relied on voluntary funding that was announced by individual nations, but many failed to follow through with their financial commitments. I am a little confused on how Sachs believes this problem should be solved. Earlier in the article, Sachs stated that legally binding commitments are the “gold standard of international diplomacy”. Sachs then followed that statement saying that the years it takes to formulate and have each nation agree to these treaties are not worth the security they provide for programs such as the MDGs. My personal confusion arises when Sachs states that financial commitment standards for the SDGs should be enforced by quotas and assessments that each country agrees to. But without any legally binding commitment, could there be a penalty for failing to meet a quota that nations would find significant? It seems that deciding these quotas could also require a significant amount of time, so could creating legal treaties be more efficient as they force countries to keep to their word?
Toggle Commented Sep 12, 2018 on ECON 280 at Jolly Green General
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Sep 12, 2018