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EC Myers
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What an uplifting article!! Not really, but it actually is very motivational. I hope that anyone who stumbles upon this climate report sees how urgent it is to act now to reduce emissions to decrease impacts on our climate. Just yesterday in class we were observing how the more developed a group/country becomes, the greater their carbon emissions are. While I am definitely NOT saying that we should stop developing and stop trying to alleviate poverty, it does seem like a tricky balance. Promoting human development to end poverty will become more and more difficult the greater the climatic temperature increases, becoming nearly impossible to achieve at 4°C. But promoting human development, at least with common technologies today, will increase carbon emissions and therefore increase the temperature. The interaction between global climate change and human development is a clear example as to why investments in R&D are so critical. We need to have improved efficiencies in technology that will allow for human development to occur without greatly increasing carbon emissions. In one of Professor Cooper's courses (my apologies but I cannot remember which one), we commonly discussed how to "fix" climate change by defining sustainability. Often we think of sustainability as preservation of resources for the next generation, but in a sense, sustainability can also be a preservation of resources for other populations on the planet today. Industrialized countries are greatly at fault for the state of our climate change, as their development was fueled by fossil fuels. They might argue that in order to mitigate climate change, developing countries should not be allowed to industrialize, as that will only make climate change worse. But is this fair? If developed countries were more sustainable with their resources when they were developing, in the sense that they were more equitable in leaving more for undeveloped countries to use, would we be having this debate? It certainly doesn't seem fair for developed nations to prevent developing nations from developing, as those in the developing countries will be hit with the effects of climate change the hardest. Jumping topics a little bit here, this summer I worked with a research team of the Spanish government in Madrid called INIA (Instituto Nacional de Investigación y Tecnología Agraria y Alimentaria). The best way I can describe the organization is like the US's equivalent of a USDA research institute. All of the lab groups I worked with (4 different groups) were essentially researching how the climate in Spain would adapt to climate change. I saw this most directly working with the teams that were measuring nitrogen concentration in soils, as well as with the team who was testing grains and what climates and soils they grew best in. While none of the "missions" of the teams explicitly mentioned climate change, from what I saw, the individuals on the team would say that their work was essentially showing that the climate of Madrid will evolve to become more like the climate of Sevilla (more arid and hot)in the coming decades thanks to climate change. Using some of the terminology in this article, I'm guessing that Sevilla's climate might even shift to unprecedented heat extremes if Madrid is shifting to be like Sevilla. It is nice to know that there are groups in industrialized nations researching how the effects of climate change will manifest itself in the coming years, but it is still alarming to me that the Spanish government's research institution strays from using the term "cambio climático"
Toggle Commented Dec 4, 2019 on Last Blog Post for the Year at Jolly Green General
"Does Aid Reduce Poverty?" is a paper that Dr. Blunch would absolutely love, so I imagine you've already sent it his way. I found it very interesting that Juliana Milovich was able to use econometrics to analyze the correlation between poverty and aid metrics, particularly the number of years spend on the Security Council of the United Nations and its relation to the lower multidimensional poverty. I think that we would be hopeful that a 1 % increase in the average amount of aid received by a developing country from the US would result in greater the 1% reduction in their MPI, but alas the money does not go as far as we would wish in the terms of poverty reduction. However, MPI does decrease .61% on average for every 1% increased in the amount of average aid received. In some senses, this seems like both a lot and a little. It seems like not very much when you think that just 10% extra aid would decrease MPI by over 6%; however, considering how much 1% of aid is in dollars, it makes you consider how so much money would be spent on a relatively small change in MPI, not even being 1 for 1. Then, we consider that MPI can be broken down into education, health and living standards. A 1% increase in US aid decreases deprivation in education for the multidimensionally poor people by .82%. This made me think of the Returns to Investments in Education paper we read earlier in the semester. Increases in health and living standards are included in the spillover effects that investing in education has. This makes me wonder, if education were to be controlled for in the regressions, would health and living standards much lower (ie if there weren't investments in education, would there be any increase in health and living standards)? If US aid were to invest more directly in education, would it decrease the reduction in the MPI by an even greater amount?
Toggle Commented Nov 18, 2019 on Next Week at Jolly Green General
The paper by Sachs and Malaney also mentioned how malaria affects birthweight, which can affect academic success. This reminded me of a paper by Janet Currie that we read in my freshman year in Pov 101, called "Inequality at Birth: Some Causes and Consequences." This was one of the most impactful papers I remember reading because it discusses how widespread the affects of poverty are in people's lives and that it is not just a financial problem. This connects back to the Sachs and Malaney paper that states that "where malaria prospers most, human societies have prospered least." Just like many other things in a positive feedback loop, poverty feeds into malaria transmission and malaria feeds into poverty. These papers say that it could run both ways, and I would imagine it does. In fact, I'm now seeing how many ways poverty and malaria can affect one another. One of my favorite aspects of this class is that it makes me consider things in a different way than I would have thought to otherwise. If I was told to consider the economic impact of malaria, I probably just would have thought about the cost that it would take to cure malaria, or maybe the cost of prevention methods like netting. I realized I really was only considering private medical costs. I wouldn't have thought about the foregone income of people who die because of malaria. Its very interesting to consider that malaria changes households' economic behaviors, not just societal behaviors when a family member if infected. Just as if I were to have thought about poverty and health, I would not have thought that poverty would correlate strongly with lower birth weights, which in turn correlates to lower educational and economic attainment. Its pretty wild that an Econ course and a Pov course can stretch your mind and perceptions in similar ways.
Toggle Commented Nov 7, 2019 on 3 readings for next week at Jolly Green General
I appreciate what this paper is going for, but as much as there are points in this paper that I agree with, there are as many points that are extremely frustrating to me. Schultz mentions that farming incentives are based upon the opportunities that farmers have to increase "the effective supply of land by means of investments," which reminds me a lot of an issue in Rockbridge County, VA today: stream-exclusion cattle fencing. For those of you who do not know, its bad to have cows in our streams. Bad for the cows, bad for the people, bad for the water, and bad for the animals who live in and live from this water. Really just not good in so many ways. As a result, farmers are encouraged to implement streamside exclusion practices, like fencing or riparian buffers to restrict cows access to waterways. Despite cost share programs in Virginia, only ~20% of farmers in Augusta county (highest agricultural production county) have implemented these practices. There is not a whole lot of research as to why they have not participated in these programs (but check in with me in April and hopefully my capstone will have answered the question why) but one of the theories is that it is not practical for small farmers. The program requires farmers to fence off a certain distance of land away from the stream, which can accumulate to acres depending on their land, greatly reducing their amount of productive and therefore profitable land. I thought this was a great example supporting how incentives matter when getting farmers to augment their land by means of investments. Some phrasing in this paper doesn't quite align with my agricultural beliefs. In "Dirt to Soil" by Gabe Brown, the author states that you would have to eat 8 oranges to get the same amount of nutrients that your grandparents would have gotten from eating 1 orange because the soil has been stripped of so many of its nutrients. So when Schultz makes it seem like its just a great thing that in 1979 we produced 3 times the amount of corn on 33 million acres, it doesn't quite fit the whole story. Schultz does say that Ricardo's concept of "the original and indestructible powers of the soil" is inadequate, his little brag about the corn doesn't make it seem like he thinks this concept is inadequate because soil is in fact NOT indestructible. Anywho, I shall hop off of my soapbox now. Thank you for coming to my TED Talk.
Toggle Commented Oct 31, 2019 on Blog Post for Next Thursday at Jolly Green General
Late post great post!! There are some very astounding, and alarming, facts in this article that i'd like to just point out to start with, then I'll move on to a deeper analysis/pondering of one area discussed in the paper. The fact that the life expectancy of males has not improved as much as females, which has increased by 20-25 years. I am surprised that both did not increase the same amonunt. 32 percent of percent of parents in India said that they wanted their sons to graduate from secondary school or college. Its not surprising to me that this number is higher than that of daughters, but I surprised that more parents wouldn't want their children to graduate from secondary school in general. I am wondering if feasibility got mixed up in these results. Okay now that I've shared my shock, I'd like to focus in on sex-selected abortion. I think this would be an interesting thing for us to discuss in class. As I continue to think about it, I go back and forth on the issue. I personally believe in a woman's right to choose whether or not she "keeps" her baby. I believe that the well-being of a child needs to be considered before it comes into the world. I would like to clarify that I am not saying this in terms of disease or anything of the such, but in terms of their future. If their family cannot provide for them, if the child will be abused and live a miserable life, is it really better for that child or for the family that it was born? I guess that is a controversial statement. To further the controversy, lets follow in Duflo's footsteps and talk about sex-selective abortion. It is wild to me to think that it would even be legal to advertise abortions like the billboard in Mumbai: "Better pay Rs 500 now than Rs 50,000 later." Are people aborting girls because they want to save this money? Or could some of the reasoning be that they know their daughters will not have a fulfilled life, as they will have to make sacrifices as a woman, many of which are listed in this paper? Are they saving their future child from hardships that could even lead them to a very early and miserable death, like the girls in the poor neighborhoods of New Delhi that are twice as likely as boys to die of diarrhea? So that got me curious into the reasoning behind sex selective abortions, as did the statement that "sex selection does not appear to disappear even in the United States." It made me feel slightly ignorant to assume that sex selective pregnancy termination would be something that only occurred in places like China where boys are worshipped. Lo and behold, its everywhere. On the website for the Center for Reproductive Rights, based out of New York, they have a document titled "Statement of Policies and Principles on Discrimination Against Women and Sex-Selective Abortion Bans". Do we think that it is a "reproductive right" to be able to have sex selective abortions? On one hand, if a woman is allowed to control her body, shouldn't she be allowed to control what gender she will be carrying around for 9 months? Because the Center for Reproductive Rights has the mission to further women's equal status in society, I would have assumed that they would be against sex-selective abortions. However, the Center is against banning sex-selective abortions because of four conditions. 1) banning sex-selective abortions does not help the issue of making women more equal in society 2) banning legal sex-selective abortions won't prevent them from happening, and will put women's health at a greater risk if they cannot be performed in a safe medical environment 3) banning sex-selective abortions undermines the goal of the organization: women's autonomy 4) according to the Center, banning sex-selective abortions furthers the "hidden" agenda by anti-choice groups by limiting access to abortions. I would really be interested to see if peers & Professor Casey have opinions on sex-selective abortion and the morality/immorality of banning it.
I keep going back and forth as to whether or not I find the paper set-up of "Growth Strategies" with the Martian to be helpful or not. On one hand, I can appreciate that the author, Dani Rodrik, desired to describe economies of different nations in a less biased manner. However, I don't think this was done very successfully. The numbers that the Martian chose seemed very arbitrary. While each one was explained by the state of that nation's economy that was being graded, there was not a point system, or anything similar, to have pulled these numbers from. The concept of a martian being somewhat foreign to economics as a whole did prove to be helpful for someone like me, whose understanding of basic economics is moderate at best. "The martian would also be led astray" certainly describes my feelings when reading papers about certain economies (5). Moving on, I found this paper thoroughly interesting. He crammed a lot of examples of different types of growth (both successful and some unsuccessful approaches) in a relatively short, comprehensible paper. While it answered some questions, it left many remaining. Primarily, I don't understand how a country is supposed to go about choosing one (or a combination of) these strategies. While Rodrik acknowledges this in saying that the governments must be of a certain type and the current state of economy must be of a certain type, what do you do if that is not the case? And even if it is the case, which portions of policy should you utilize the orthodox point of view? And for which portions should you utilize unorthodox approaches? (considering a combination of them is what Rodrik declares can be successful. I'd love to talk about this more in class to hear other students' perspectives on orthodox vs unorthodox approaches.
Toggle Commented Oct 2, 2019 on Rodrik article for Thursday at Jolly Green General
Questions! I have many! Perhaps I am confused on the definitions of "market size" and "economies of scale" because prior to this paper, I thought they were the same thing. I'm now realizing they are not! I'm very fascinated by the idea of forward linkages and backward linkages. I'd be interested to see which economists support Hirschman's definitions of these terms and how they have supported this with data. Have backward linkages proven to occur more often and more successfully than forwards linkages? Or is it vice versa? OR do we not have enough evidence that either work at all? I'm also puzzled by the statement that "economies of scale were very difficult to introduce into the increasingly formal models of mainstream economic theory" because this seems like the opposite of what I know about economic theory, which granted is not all that much. I would have thought that economies of scale would be what mainstream economic theory is based around, both formal and informal. Is this the case but perhaps its just that it is difficult to introduce them into models if the models were not built based on economies of scale? While the author does discuss this a bit more in the section mentioning Ricardo, it is still somewhat unclear to me as to what kind of models were used to describe non-economies of scale and how they were not more difficult to incorporate in comparison to economies of scale. I was very frustrated by the author's negativity towards other economists until he finally acknowledged that economic models cannot include every single aspect, just like the weather pan experimental model. This was the first part of the paper that I didn't feel like I had to question, which was nice. I found the history of questioning social sciences very interesting, too. Its a very good point that people would prefer to attack the assumptions of an analysis rather than question what their personal beliefs are based upon.
Toggle Commented Sep 25, 2019 on Reading for next Thursday at Jolly Green General
It is both fascinating and somewhat confusing to me that the fast-growing economies did so in such different ways. Hong Kong transitioned from a manufacturing economy to trading and service based economy. Singapore grew its economy by setting ceilings for nominal wages, which helped solve the exchange rate depreciation. South Korea boosted its economy by cheap credit lending and a liberalized financial sector. Taiwan through exports and the accumulation of trade surpluses. Similarly, Malaysia grew through international trade and manufacturing, as did Thailand as an export-dependent economy. Thailand additionally devalued their currency three times to solve their economic problems. Continuing with the pattern, China pursued an export-oriented growth strategy. India grew by shifting the economic attitude to favor private business. Both of the African countries, Botswana and Mauritius, new because of natural resources: diamonds and sugar production, respectively. Mauritius also boosted its economy with tourism. While it may be redundant to have listed what we all can read in the article, seeing them side by side was very interesting for me, as it shows the common threads in the economic boosts as well as the differences, especially in terms of economic policy. Additionally, I expected there to be a much larger gap for the institutional barrier parameters as .4378, .4253, and .4965 do not seem all that different. However, the gap between the average TFPs of the fast growing (.8769) and slow growing (.6168) economies seem much more significant, which is what I would have expected. Are we just comparing these countries to the United States because it is an economy that most are familiar with? What benefit do we get from comparing the growth rates to the US, rather than just to one another?
When reading the paper, I kept reading a statistic and thinking "wow this stands out to me the most- I'll have to include that in the blog." Well that happened about 20 times, so I'm not going to include all of them. The point in bringing this up though is how astoundingly different the lives of the poor and the extremely poor are from our lives in the US. Perhaps my judgement is clouded but I do not think it would be possible to survive in the US on consumption of $1/day (I think its very smart to consider poverty in terms of consumption rather than earnings because for example a person with a giant inheritance could earn nothing daily but be spending thousands of dollars a day). While the cost of living is certainly higher in the US compared to the countries focused on in the paper, so are the standards of living. It was interesting that the study did not find a large gap in the lives of the poor and the extremely poor, despite their consumption level being double the other. It was not shocking to see that one shift between groups was that the poor often had smaller family sizes than the extremely poor, as they have to split their earnings among less people. While the paper is packed with statistics and is intended to generalize groups for informative purposes, I felt that there was a light tone of judgement, particularly when discussing how the poor spend their money. The poor did not spend all of their money on the most nutritional food; instead they spent some on sweets, alcohol, tobacco, and entertainment. While the lack of food does make them unhappy, wouldn't the lack of joy in their lives? I know they say that money can't buy happiness, but it can provide the opportunity to indulge and not have to focus on the fact that these people will likely be struggling to provide for their families every single day for the rest of their lives. While 44% of the households mentioned wanting to cut their spending on alcohol and tobacco, a majority did not mention it and I do not think they should be shamed for that. I distinctly remember seeing a man on the sidewalk in Madrid (much wealthier than the areas discussed in the paper) passed out drunk beside the cup he was using to collect the change he had begged for. My instant reaction was judgement until I took a step back and realized that maybe thats the way he can find happiness? I appreciated the paper including some potential reasons as to why the poor face the problems they do, but I would like to question whether or not the subjects were questioned about the motives behind their habits.
Toggle Commented Sep 11, 2019 on Readings for next week at Jolly Green General
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Sep 11, 2019