This is drewwoodfolk's Typepad Profile.
Join Typepad and start following drewwoodfolk's activity
Join Now!
Already a member? Sign In
Recent Activity
I found the World Bank's report, Turn Down the Heat, to be a particularly interesting analysis of the climate change data gathered thus far. I also appreciate that fact that the report was highly critical and straight forward. Many times, when listening to various news outlets, I often hear the idea of climate change being debated by two talking head on a screen as if there is some sort of debate about whether or not climate change fundamentally exist. This is particularly troubling because it plays a major role in down playing some of the drastic effects the world could see if we don't take major steps now towards reducing our ecological footprint. I believe this report from the world bank does a good job of conveying just how urgent the a problem climate change has become. Rather than presenting the scientific data in an overly technical way, the report lays out the drastic effects of climate change in terms of real world effects. One of the reasons I believe climate change has been such a difficult idea to sell is because the people with the imperial data (the scientest) often do a very poor job of communicating just how grave the climate change situtation is. This report does of great job of translating jargon filled environmental data into real world effects like rising sea levels, increased drop failure, etc. Another thing I found particularly interesting about the report was its focus on the developing nations rather than the developing goal. Don't get me wrong, in action on the issue of climate change will certainly have adverse effects on every nation regardless of development status or income level. Nonetheless it is incredibly important to bring climate issues that face mainly the developing world to the forefront. This is because many of these nations rely on their natural resources as major factor to their economy; resources that could be ruined if we dont act swiftly to reduce our emission and reduce our enviromental footprint especially in the developed world. On a related note, I also found the peice "This world is enough" to be very interesting as well. I really appreciate that it tackled the myth that we have to make drastic changes to the way we live our live in order to stop climate change. Instead, there are steps we can take to make our energy harvesting process more effiecent and thus maintain our lifestyle with a vastly lower enviromental footprint.
Toggle Commented Dec 5, 2019 on Last Blog Post for the Year at Jolly Green General
I found the paper "Does Aid Reduce Poverty" to be highly thought provoking as it was the first time I've ever seen concrete imperial data about the effectiveness of international aid. From a personal perspective, I've always found myself to be somewhat skeptical about the about of aid that the US in particular lends out to developing nations. While I understand that American foreign aid can play an important role in spurring growth and reducing poverty in developing nations, I find our level of aid offered to developing nations hard to justify when I look at the vast amount of need that exist within our own country. Furthermore, from a polical perspective, I find it hard to justify using large amounts of American tax payer dollars to aid developing nations when our own country faces a myriad of domestic issues (albeit much less severe than those faced in the developing world). This paper has given me a new perspective on foreign aid and the existing literature that justifies it. The first thing that stood out to me in this article was the method in which previous studies had measured the effectiveness of foreign aid on development. I was very suprised to learn that the vast majority of economic research has been about the causal link between aid levels in growth. While economic growth is certainly a major factor in measuring development, it is far from painting the whole picture about the day to day living standard of those in developing nations. It was refreshing to see that this article focus on the relationship between aid and poverty alleviation. This, in my opinion, is by far the more effective way to measure the effectiveness of aid as it capture the micro level benefits that foreign aid can provide to those in devleoping nations. The second thing I found interesting from the article was the effectiveness of aid to improve some measures of development but not others. While I wasn't surprised to see that aid across the board helped decrease multidimensional poverty significantly, I was somewhat surprised to see that aid had no statistically signifigant effect on income poverty. This goes to show that growth and income levels aren't the whole story when it comes to development.
Toggle Commented Nov 20, 2019 on Next Week at Jolly Green General
I found this article to be quite thought provoking. Learning about development economics in general has given me a better understanding of how interconnected the global economy is. This article however took my understanding of the interconnected nature of our global markets to the next level. It was very interesting to learn that a firm in a developing nation with almost no real connection the the developing world could be so affected by the economic winds in the developing world. At the same time it was somewhat troubling to think that a businesses success or failure could be so sway by the monteary policy of the developed world. In a way this seems like a remnant of colonialism in its own right. Many of these developing nation don't have direct ties to their colonizing nations that host many of the worlds "money centers" Nonetheless, the health of their economy and level of outside investment is still swayed by their former colonizers. Aside from the connection of interest rates and capital flows to the south pointed out in the article, I found much of the rest of the article to be very confused. While some of the historical analysis of previous economic expansions and contractions during the 80's, 70's and, 20's made sense, I was almost entirely unable to understand the conclusion. After this reading, I am still confused about whether increases or decreases in interest rates cause more capital flows to the south. I look forward to discussing this more in class.
Toggle Commented Nov 14, 2019 on For Thursday's Discussion at Jolly Green General
While I've gained a better understanding of how difficult climbing out of poverty for a developing nation throughout this class, no article has brought this more into focus than "the economic and social social burden of malaria. Its clear from the first figure of the article that some wealthy nations (for the most part) have been able to escape the burden or malaria. But unfortunaly some of the worlds poorest nations are still battling with a disease that lasting effects on both health and economic outcomes. This first thing that stood out to me was the dual causality between poverty and malaria. The causal link between poverty and malaria seems pretty obvious and straight forward. During middle school I distinctly remember raising money along with my classmates that would be donated to an organization that provided mosquito nets. At this point in my life and up until now, I had the preconceived idea that by providing nets (and indirectly alleviating poverty) that the spread of malaria could be slowed or stoped. This article, however, has caused to realize that this relationship is actually more of a two way street than a one way path. The eyes opening (and perhaps scariest) idea from the article was that malaria can keep some devloping nation in a sort of poverty trap. I'd never considered this before but upon further reflection, this makes sense. Whats the point of keeping your family size small if there's a good chance that one of your children will die early? Whats the point of investing in a child's education if they've survived malaria as a child but still have long term mental symptoms from the disease itself? These are the question that are almost never presented but are perhaps the most important. Another idea that stood out to was the effect of malaria on foreign direct investment. Something, that when done right, can kick start an economy and help sustain growth or a profitable tourism sector. During high school, I distinctly remember out school almost canceling our service trip to Costa Rica due to the Zika epidimic going on that summer. During that time many families where canceling trip and vacation resort throughout the country were loosing money during what was normally the busiest travel season. Zika had devastating effects on the Costa Rican economic, so I can only image the effect of malaria on a nation. It's almost depressing to thing that there are a number of nations with lovely coastline and natural wonders that can't even be profited from becuase of the fear of malaria to outsiders.
Toggle Commented Nov 7, 2019 on 3 readings for next week at Jolly Green General
I very much enjoyed Schulz's lecture about "The Economics of Being Poor" and found it fascinating for a couple reasons. First, it was really interesting to see his thoughts on the value of farmers and agriculture on growing society. Coming into this class I had the preconcieved notion that the vast majority of meaningful economic growth would be found in urban areas and that agriculture was nothing more than an ancient sector that would slowly be phased out. Instead farmers are in fact some of the most skilled entrepreneurs that exist in a society. Constantly facing high stake decisions involving cost and returns, agriculture is an intricate juggling act that plays an important role in the development of any economy even in the 21st century. It was also intersting to learn that many governments engage in discriminatory practices and hold many of the same preconceived notions about agriculture as an economic sector as I did. Since must of a nations political capital lies in the hands of urban consumers, those in rural agriculture are often dismissed as "inherently backwards" and used for cheap food and nothing more. The second point from the article that really stood out was Schulz's characterization for health as a stock. I'd never heard of the term "health capital" but I find it quite fitting as a term. I firmly align with Schulz's idea that health stock, just like any stock, has short term cost of investment but yields far greater returns in the long run. For example, revamping a nations health care infrastructure is certainly a large undertaking and has great initial cost, but the long run effects (making eduction more worthwhile, increasing life spans, etc) are exponentially greater.
Toggle Commented Oct 30, 2019 on Blog Post for Next Thursday at Jolly Green General
Ester Duflo's article, Women Empowerment and Economic Development does a great job of explaining the role that economic development plays in advancing women empowerment. While the explanations in this section of the paper were somewhat though provoking, I was far more taken aback by the argument that women's empowerment (aside from being good in and of itself in a moral sense) could also be a catalyst of economic development. This was an idea that had never crossed my mind and I was quite interested from the beginning to learn more. Duflo's arguement that economic development development can cause women empowerment seems pretty intuitive, but I've never seen that causes and effects laid out as clearly and simply as Duflo did in this paper. Section 2.2 really stuck out to me in particular and really made me think about how systemic some of the issues faced by women in developing nations are and just how difficult they will be to fix. In this section Duflo point out the fact that carrying a child is an inherently dangerous task and plays a part in explaining the "missing girls" theory. While I was aware that child birth was obviously a dangerous task (and especially in a developing nation that may lack the healthcare infrastructure needed to deal with labor complications), I never thought about the fact that some families had a real economic incentive to invest more money in boys who would never face the risk related with child birth. After reading this paper (and that section in particular) it is now considerably easier to see how economic growth is directly linked to health care infrastructure development which in turn directly lowers maternal mortality rate and make millions more women "worth " the increased cost of human capital investment. I happened to find Duflo's next argument even more interesting: how empowering women can be a catalyst for economic growth in and of its self. This didn't seem as intuitive to me as Duflo's first point but Duflo's did make some interesting point as to how this could indeed be a possibility. The section that stood out the most to me in this part of the article was Duflo's section on Women as decision makers. One of the point Duflo brings up is that, all things equal, adding another child into a family makes them effectively poorer because families are instantly forced to feed more mouths (that won't be productive for year to come) with the same amount of resources. Duflo skillfully points out that giving women access to family planning (regardless of whether or not their husbands know about it) can help women plan their families more efficiently, reduce the number of children per family, and thus lead MORE economically prosperous lives with LESS children in the household. This was a very interesting take on how women's empowerment can actually increase economic well being and one that I had never considered before. After reading this article, it is even more apparent to me that simply hoping equality will come along as a side effect of economic development is not enough. Instead more drastic social reforms like quotas or other policies that promote women's empowerment also play a huge role in boosting economic property for everyone in both developed and developing nations.
I found "Growth Strategies" by Dani Rodrik to be a very thought provoking article that really changed preconceived ideas about how emerging economies start and hopefully maintain steady growth. Perhaps because of the American political system or perhaps for some other reason, I've always been under the impression that the fastest amount of growth always comes when goverment intervention is at its lowest. Furthermore, I've always believe that in the cases of developing economies, its best to lure in outside investment to provide a metaphorical kick start to economic growth that could lead to domestic investment later down the road. I think part of the reason I felt this way due to the time I've spent in Hong Kong. While there, I was taken aback by the sheer number of skyscrapers and infrastructure that had been developed. Along with well known international banking names, it seemed like some domestic Hong Kong ventures were thriving and that the special administrative region was certainly benifiting on the whole by the vast amount of foreign investment and the adoption of true hands off policy. After reading this article however, it has become clear to me that Hong Kong appears to be the exception rather than the rule when it come to effective and sustainable development strategies. The article makes it clear that development strategies may be considerably more nuanced than I originally anticipated. Furthermore, and much to my surprise, there appears to be more than one path to building a sustainable economy. On one hand, nearly all of the developing economies seem to have the so called "higher order" economic principles like rule of law, property rights, or appropriate incentives. While these higher order economic principle are quite important, it appear that the rest of the development strategy is best left up to government where in many cases, some intervention is better than none at all.
Toggle Commented Oct 2, 2019 on Rodrik article for Thursday at Jolly Green General
Wow! What an interesting piece that seems to tie in well with our previous class discussion about the origins of development economics. First off, I found the struggle of the early high development theory thinkers to be incredible interesting. From an outsiders perspective on economics, I've always thought the economics issues and models we would discuss in class would have been figured out and perfected a very long time ago. It was incredibly interesting to learn that development economics didn't really begin to develop as a field at all until the post World War II era and took many decades after to begin to perfect. Furthermore, it was quite eye openning to learn that the publications of well respected economic thinkers like Rodan and Hirschman didn't always receive the respect that their work probably warranted. On one hand, I couldn't imagine the frustration that these early development economic must have faced. While their economic theories were fairly simple to articulate in words and generally intuitive, thinkers like Rodan and Hirschman must have been incredible frustrated that their theories didn't get accepted into the main stream of economic thought. At the same, I couldn't see my self taking anyones work seriously who lacked the mathematical modeling to back up their theories. Reading this article did make me wonder about other perhaps missed theories that may have been presented in either economics or any other field of study. I'm endlessly curious to know, how many ideas potentially valid and innovative theories have been brushed aside by the economic community. Second, I did find the model fairly confusing. While I'm throughly happy that a model as eventually developed for what seems to be a well thought out theory, I found some of the underlying assumption made in the mathematical models of "Big Push" theory to be fairly unconvincing. The assumption of the only resource in an economy being labor and the traditional sector being characterized by perfect competition seem like big just to make in my opinion. I'd love to unpack this more in class!
Toggle Commented Sep 26, 2019 on Reading for next Thursday at Jolly Green General
I was quite fascinated by this week’s piece about global income disparities by Wang, Wong, and Yip. While I’ve certainly been aware of the vast differences in global income before, I was not aware of just how big this wealth gap was and how much it has grown over the past couple of decades. In previous classes, we have discussed how, all things being equal, this is undoubtedly the best time to be born into the world. With global health and well-being benchmarks like infant mortality and extreme poverty declining across the globe (including some the most challenging countries), I somewhat naively expected global incomes to be following a similar story. But clearly isn’t the case. While the 1960 per capita income ratio between the top and bottom 10% was already somewhat startling, I was mortified to see that this ratio had grown exponentially to 58:1. At this point in the article I found myself puzzled. What could drive this sort of extreme income inequality? How is inequality increasing at this rate when other global poverty indicators seem to be showing overwhelmingly positive results? At this point, I was very curious to see exactly what was driving the world ever increasing income gap on an individual country by country basis. This is where the article really began to click for me. The first example of a fast growth economy that really caught my attention was Hong Kong. According to the article, Hong Kong had achieved a global reputation for its check manufacturing labor cost. While this is certainly a positive step for GDP growth and I necessary growth phase seen in more emerging economies, this is no way to becoming one of the fasting growing economies in the world. The article then points out that Hong Kong transitioned to a service-based economy during the early 90’s and has since become one of the largest financial hubs for Asian and the world. This transition to a from an agriculture or manufacturing based economy to a service one is clearly one of the most efficient ways to grow national incomes and make the increase in global income inequality more understandable. After reading this, one question keeps coming back to me. While every country has the opportunity to fix corruption, promote financial stability, and cut back on government allocation, not all nations can be leaders in tech, finance, or entry the service industry in general. That’s just number. Thus I’m curious to see how the next few decades play out to see whether or not there is enough room at the top everyone.
Reading Economic Lives of the poor was quite the eye-opening experience for me. While the poverty line of $2 per day and $1 for extreme poverty are not new concepts to me as a whole. It was interesting to learn that this number has been adjusted relative to the 1985 PPP. These considerable changes my opinion of the $2 per day poverty threshold and makes it very clear just how difficult it would be to meet basic needs on a budget this small. The first topic of the paper that really stood out to me was how much people in poverty spend on food relative to the amounts spent on alcohol, tobacco, and other vices. At first, I was alarmed to see that some impoverished households spent 5, 6, or sometimes 8 percent of their budgets in some cases on goods that do not directly contribute to health and aren't particularly know for the nutritional value. Upon further thinking about these somewhat unsettling facts, I think I may have some ideas for why this is the case. While I've never personally seen poverty in the communities listed in the study, I believe that unemployment and general morale in impoverished communities may be connected to the amount of money spent on alcohol and tobacco. In the time I've spent volunteering in impoverished communities, most seemed to have an above average unemployment rate. Many of those faced with chronic unemployment that I've personally seen didn't seem to have particularly busy schedules and often used alcohol and tobacco products as their one escape for the day. While it was incredibly unfortunate to know that their money probably could have been used in more effective and certainly healthier ways, I also found it hard to blame them. Living on a budget so small, in my opinion, would push almost anyone to their breaking point. The second topic of the paper that really stood out to me was the tendency of many rural, impoverished household to temporarily migrate for work. At first glance, I believed this was a good thing: one member of the household working their hardest to achieve financial stability for the family. But after thinking about temporary migration further, it is clear to me that this practice has many unintended consequences. For example, in Udaipur, 60% of families stated that one or more family members had to temporarily move during the year to find work. While there are certainly benefits to have a family member with a job that feeds the family, this also effectively increases the number of children who have to grow up at times without the presence of both parental figures. While I don't know the specific data for the communities listed in the paper, I am aware that children in the US who grow up even temporarily without both parent present face a multitude of challenges that children of two parent homes simply don't have to deal with. I'd assume the difficulties of the American single parent household would also transfer to the impoverished communities in the paper.
Toggle Commented Sep 11, 2019 on Readings for next week at Jolly Green General
drewwoodfolk is now following The Typepad Team
Sep 11, 2019