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Turner Banwell
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Duflo's paper investigates the relationship between women's empowerment and the economic development of a country, specifically asking whether the two variables present evidence of positive correlation. If there was any doubt before, it should be clear after reading this paper that women's empowerment is vitally essential in the process of development. I found it interesting how Duflo outlined that economic development itself can lead to empowerment – something which at best is a somewhat satisfying mean to an end – and then noted that empowering women will “bring about changes in decision making,” something that will have a direct impact on development. Personally, the latter is a far more satisfying resolution to this issue, yet the question remains: what is the most effective way to accomplish this dynamic? Esther’s final point suggested there may be an answer. She states, “in order to bring about equity between men and women… it will be necessary to take policy actions that favor women at the expense of men, and it may be necessary to continue to do so for a very long time.” Certainly, women around the world need and deserve this sort policy implementation in order to bridge the equality gap between men women; however, and perhaps this is too cynical, I wonder how many countries would actually go for this idea? It’s an incredibly unfortunately reality of the current world we live in that, objectively, there are still immense amounts of sexism in both developing and developed nations. The positive externalities of women’s empowerment – beyond the fact it’s the ethically right thing to do – that Duflo identifies in her paper should be convincing enough evidence for anyone in their right mind that a focus on policy for women’s empowerment is needed. Echoing several of the comments above, I too feel like changing the cultural norm of the way people perceive the role of men and women is equally if not more important than policy implementation. I certainly do not have all the answers, but I found it interesting and compelling that at least Duflo raises these important questions in her paper.
Toggle Commented Oct 18, 2018 on ECON 280 for Friday at Jolly Green General
I enjoyed this reading. We deal with economic models daily, so it is encouraging to hear Krugman’s perspective on the limitations of any type of model –economic or not – and it is refreshing to read his perspective on how useful and effective they are. One paragraph particularly stood out to me: “the important point is that any kind of model of a complex system – a physical model, a computer simulation, or a pencil-and-paper mathematical representation – amounts to pretty much the same kind of procedure. You make a set of clearly untrue simplifications to get the system down to something you can handle.” He later notes that if one succeeds at crafting a good model, then the end result is a better insight into why a complex system acts the way it does. The primary reason this struck me is because, as economists, we heavily depend on assumptions to use our models to better understand why things might happen. However, I will admit it can be frustrating when these assumptions are more unrealistic in a real world scenario than plausible. Take the Lewis Two-Sector model we discussed on Monday as an example. If the two core assumptions the model hold – the cost for the migration of labor from the traditional to modern sector is zero and all profits are reinvested domestically) – then great, the model will graphically illustrate how the developing country will enjoy economic growth. But the reality is, as seen through the many Latin American countries that attempted this approach, the only way these assumptions hold is if there are actual policies in place to assure that they will. I think this serves as a good example for all models in general. If the assumptions hold then models provide a reasonable explanation for why something might happen. The reality, unfortunately, is that many times the assumptions we use are unrealistic and do not. Regardless, assumptions are critical for any model to adequate serve its purpose – something I’ve come to learn and accept is essential to economics.
Toggle Commented Sep 27, 2018 on ECON 280 for Friday at Jolly Green General
Clearly, the empirical evidence presented in Wang, Wong, and Yip’s article suggests the role of political institutions are crucial for economic growth, particularly in emerging countries. One part of the paper that interested me was the emphasis most Fast-Growing Economies had on implementing a political structure to promote exports to stimulate growth. For example, take Chiang Ching-kuo’s Ten Major Construction Projects for Taiwan beginning in 1974. This government-implemented project built a foundation for growth opportunities driven by exports. In a similar vein, the article mentions China’s miraculous growth from 1990-20004, where China enjoyed a real GDP growth rate of 10 percent, primarily driven by policies in place to support exporters. Finally, since Malaysia implemented the New Economic Policy in 1971, there has been substantial success and improvement in its ability to export its natural and agricultural resources. The evidence implies that policies which stimulating foreign investment spending will raise exports, hence increasing real GDP growth. While the data is encouraging, the question I have is what next? Take China, for example, a country who for decades has purposely devalued its currency to stimulate foreign investment and promote exports. At a certain point – maybe even now given the amount of tariffs put in place by President Trump – there has to be a shift away from such a dependence on exports for a country like China to be equivalent to the most-developed countries. This, again, is where I believe having a political structure in place that holds an equal importance on stimulating social development as economic development can lead to sustainable development. I can see how promoting export-lead real GDP growth can be a mean to facilitating growth, but true development will take much more.
Toggle Commented Sep 20, 2018 on ECON 280 for Friday at Jolly Green General
Sach’s piece is an interesting commentary on the success of MDGs, priorities for SDGs, and the best ways to build a better future for the world. I completely agree with his assertion that today – perhaps more than ever – there is an increasing need for ideas promoting efficient, sustainable development across the globe. In theory, I believe a focus on what he defines as three broad categories, economic development, environmental sustainability, and social inclusion, would lead to a more developed, cohesive world. Yet, and perhaps this is too narrow minded or cynical, I am hesitant to believe that his recommendations can ever feasibly be accomplished, let alone completed by 2030. Take a part of SDG 1 for example, “by 2030… all the world’s people will have access to safe and sustainable water and sanitation” (2208). Ideally, it’d be terrific if this is the case, and maybe this will actually happen. However, the actually statistics indicate we still have a long way to go. Today, 1 in 9 people lack access to safe water, every 90 seconds a child dies from a water-related disease, 1 in 3 schools lack access to basic water and sanitation, and 1 and 3 people lack access to a toilet ( While this is just one critique to his overall suggestion, I think it serves as example of how far-fetched some of his goals actually are. I don’t mean for this to sound overly pessimistic or cynical, but I do think that aiming for less lofty goals might be more practical and lead to a better chance for success. This is where I think his idea of having intermediate milestones – something MDGs did not include – would be very beneficial. In general, I believe people are encouraged by positive and good results. Furthermore, I think people would be much more likely to commit to helping with these issues if the goal laid out in front of them seemed achievable.
Toggle Commented Sep 13, 2018 on ECON 280 at Jolly Green General
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Sep 13, 2018