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Jordan Watson
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I found Esther Duflo’s article very insightful due to the extensive amount of studies she references to flesh out the relationship between economic development and women’s empowerment. Ultimately, she concludes that development will bring about women’s empowerment and empowering women will bring about changes in decision-making and have a direct impact on development. However, she emphasizes that making improvements to one of these two variables is not a simple solution to poverty and inequality. More specifically as she mentions in her conclusion, a one time increase in women’s rights does not create a continuous cycle of improvement of both development and again advance women’s empowerment. One portion of the paper that I found particularly interesting was Duflo’s discussion of the effectiveness of top-down policy interventions versus bottom-up improvements in human capital. Top down interventions include changes in the law, changes in electoral rules, and changes in the rule governing programs; all of which can change women’s effective power. In the article, Duflo mentions how better divorce policy can increase women’s bargaining power in the household. A woman would not feel trapped in a relationship where the male takes control over all household decisions if there was proper policy in place to not be in the relationship. On the other hand, a more bottom-up approach to increase empowerment of women is investing in women’s human capital (for example improving access to education). There is significant amount of literature on the correlation between mother’s education and child welfare. For example, households have fewer children when the wife has more education. As a result, each child should get more care and resources. While a human capital investment would taking a longer time to see effects, I feel like it would be equally or even more effective as top-down policies in the long run. After reading this article, I think Esther Duflo certainly raises a lot of important questions that enable people to start thinking of women as a very key player in increasing overall world development.
Toggle Commented Oct 19, 2018 on ECON 280 for Friday at Jolly Green General
This paper is very insightful about the history of development economics while also going into detail about “high development theory” and the role of models in the social sciences. His broad overview of different development theories reinforced what we read from Chapter 3 and discussed during class this week. When discussing high development theory, Krugman mentions the necessity of the concept of economies of scale at both the producer level and in relation to the size of the market. Individuals will become more productive in the modern sector as long as the market is large enough to compensate for paying higher wages to the individuals that left the traditional sector. Therefore, modernization must be started on a sufficiently large scale to be self-sustaining. While this claim makes perfect sense, I did question the adverse effects that happen in the long run because of diseconomies of scale where firms begin to see an increase in marginal costs when output is increased. This makes me think of the rapid modernization and growth case of China that we bring up consistently in class. In the past couple of decades, China has made major strides in its overall development, which can be partially attributed to its strict limit on the number of people that can migrate from the traditional sector to the modern sector.
Toggle Commented Sep 28, 2018 on ECON 280 for Friday at Jolly Green General
Wang, Wong, and Yip’s article emphasizes the crucial role that strong institutions play in development for nations. While this may seem simple to apply to all developing countries at first glance, Wang et. al’s case studies of “trapped” and “lag-behind” countries demonstrate that the instances of corruption and inefficient allocation of government lead to institutions being developing countries ultimate downfall. Like many of my classmates mentioned above, as I was reading this article, I kept relating the findings back to Sen’s opinions on how institutions have the responsibility to provide for citizens. Therefore, although it might be challenging, I believe it is the ultimate responsibility of countries to prioritize making their institutions as pro-market as possible before they will experience growth. I found the case study of Greece to be particularly interesting because the authors did not go into much detail on why the country is classified as a “laggard,” but rather they went into more detail about when the country was doing well, hosting the 2004 Olympics, service-focused economy, etc. I would have liked to learn more about the reason's for the country's large amounts of debt and lack of focus on its education and technological sector.
Toggle Commented Sep 20, 2018 on ECON 280 for Friday at Jolly Green General
Jeffrey Sachs’ article was extremely insightful given the fact that it was written in June of 2012 before the Sustainable Development Goals were officially decided on by the UN (later that month) and put into place (January 2015). It was interesting to read his opinions on the the MDGs and his predictions for SDGs and compare it with what we know today. In the article, Sachs proposes four SDGs that focus on the broad categories of economic development, environmental sustainability, social inclusion, and governance for sustainable development. While all of these categories are addressed within the current SDGs, the 17 SDGs go into much more detail (i.e. goal 4 focuses solely on quality education, goal 6 focuses on clean water and sanitation, etc.). Although the SDGs are frequently critiqued today for having too many goals and objectives, I believe having multiple goals has enabled countries to more easily identify specific areas where they can improve their sustainable development. 
When Sachs critiques the MDGs, he mentions that sustainability needs the leadership of the private sector alongside the public sector and civil society (2210). While I agree with his claim, I am skeptical whether such worldwide, all encompassing development goals could be easily transferrable to individual companies within the private sector. I think that the goals are excellent guidelines to look at on a national level, but they fall short on the local level and in the private sector. By improving how the private sector utilizes the SDGs, I believe there will be significant sustainability improvement worldwide.
Toggle Commented Sep 13, 2018 on ECON 280 at Jolly Green General
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Sep 13, 2018