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Eric Schleicher
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I firstly agree with the last few blog posts before mine, as this was an interesting and fitting paper for us to read to close out the term. I think some of the major components of this paper are indicative of some of the significant themes that we have learned throughout the term. One of these themes is viewing situations from various perspectives, especially with regard to measures of development and poverty alleviation. As we have seen in this paper, when this empirical strategy was employed to demonstrate a link between aid and income-based poverty, there was inconclusive evidence, though the situation changed when the authors utilized the multidimensional measure of poverty. I think this strategy speaks volumes to the truth about poverty and development in the world - it is more complicated and interconnected than it may seem on the surface. Poverty certainly does embody an income component, but it is more widespread than that, and when you include variables and measures of education, employment opportunities, health outcomes, climate stability, freedoms, gender equality and more, you begin to get a fuller picture of how poverty and development must be addressed through so many different pathways. As the authors demonstrated in this paper tonight, you begin to form different conclusions when you implement this more comprehensive measure of poverty. So I guess that is one of the big takeaways I learned from this paper but also from this course - never to assume, and to look at issues from as many perspectives as possible to be able to find new and creative pathways to address inequality in the world.
Toggle Commented Nov 13, 2020 on Last Post of the Year at Jolly Green General
I have to some degree echo what many other people have been saying so far - this article was definitely difficult to comprehend, as it didn't have the same sort of intuitive understanding that many of the other articles we have read throughout the term have had. It's obviously important though - we can read a lot about relatively qualitative approaches to development and those are easier to understand the mechanisms of. It is simpler to see how improving women's rights or improving malaria resistance would be helpful and conducive to economic development. Though, it is important for us all to try to understand all the other underlying mechanisms that contribute to development, in this case the flow of capital and interplay of interest rates between countries. It is interesting to consider how a country such as the United States or many other developed nations can target interest rates that are in the best interest of their domestic financial institutions, but also those interest rates will determine the inflow or outflow of capital depending on the attractiveness of those rates to other countries. This was an interesting article although I retained less of it than many others.
Toggle Commented Nov 6, 2020 on For Friday's Discussion at Jolly Green General
It is very interesting to consider how vast and dramatic the effects are of effective anti-poverty policies, especially so in lower-income countries such as Mexico. In this case, CCTs have been shown to dramatically improve educational attainment as well as labor market outcomes for children who received these benefits before their transition from primary to secondary school. The researchers further explained that these benefits were not observed for individuals who were at least 15, or who had surpassed the time period of transition from primary to secondary school. I think that this paper has helped to further some strong assumptions in my mind at this point after learning as much as we have about development and anti-poverty policies. Firstly, well-targeted anti-poverty measures can have dramatic positive effects when targeted to the least affluent families. This is true in this example as Mexico itself is a less-wealthy nation than developed nations in its proximity, such as the United States and Canada. Furthermore, the CCTs that the Mexican government implemented were largely experienced by individuals in the poorest areas of the country, with the majority of the recipients being rural families. Even a nation such as Mexico, which I don't know much about but could assume that their government budget is not as vast and flexible as that of the United States for instance, is able to benefit greatly by re-allocating some money to their poorest families, where benefits will be seen most greatly. A second major assumption is that the greatest benefits will be experienced by individuals who are still children at the time of receiving the benefit. The younger the child is, the more they could be impacted by improvements in wealth, allowing for greater rates of educational attainment and long-run labor market outcomes as described in this paper. I think this is true across the board - early childhood education and monetary improvements can prove to be the most beneficial to improve the economic situations of families and bring families and individuals out of abject poverty. I think these two assumptions prove to be very useful in thinking about effective anti-poverty measures both in developed and less-developed nations.
Toggle Commented Oct 30, 2020 on For Friday's Discussion at Jolly Green General
It is difficult to read a paper about the clear importance of investments in education when we live in a society that is so clearly underinvesting in the schooling of its youth, with disproportionate impacts being felt by minority and poorer individuals. All of these papers that we read tend to have an importance beyond academic and intellectual consideration. We can connect the research to events actually happening in our lives, and I think it is no more evident than during this crisis. We are witnessing a vast underinvestment in education in a time of crisis. Prior to our current situation in this pandemic, American schools were already struggling to collect satisfactory resources and foster opportunities that would allow students to excel. Now, not only do we have a great need to provide proper education to our youth, but we have a responsibility to provide schools with the funding to be able to conduct this education safely. It pains me to think of what it must be like to be a kid or the parent of a kid who sees their child separated from their friends and attempting to attain their education online. It is even difficult now as a college student, and although Psacharopoulos and Patrinos provide historical research that does not support the screening hypothesis, I feel that myself and many of my peers are simply going through the motions to get a college degree as that has been touted as a path of upward mobility. In reality, I believe there is greater alignment with the productivity hypothesis, and therefore it is important, now more than ever, that are youth are provided not just with satisfactory resources, but with excellent resources and education that will allow them to apply their skills and unique knowledge to a world that is evolving more rapidly than ever before.
Toggle Commented Oct 23, 2020 on For Friday's Discussion at Jolly Green General
It is strange to read about the objective state of the world when it is not in equilibrium, when you know that billions of individuals out there in the world are impoverished or discriminated against. In this case, Duflo provides a stark picture of the extent of some of the gender discrimination that is present throughout the world, particularly in developing nations. I was struck throughout the paper by the fact that of course there is policy-based and cultural discrimination and inequity toward women, but there is also the balance of life and death for many families that requires them to make sacrifices and occasionally put the health and survival of a family member on the line. When this happens, women and girls are often discriminated against, and it can be difficult to truly wrap my mind around the human experience when families are put in these positions. I find it difficult to believe that there is a lack of love, but rather as Duflo demonstrates, families weigh the expectations that women may typically fill in developing nations and decide that when the situation is dire, they may choose to invest more in boys. No family should have to consider the expected outcomes of their children and decide which life is more valuable. I found many points frustrating and saddening throughout this paper because I know that as a global society, we can have the collective consciousness to treat everyone equally. To my previous point, an example of the inequity experienced by young girls and health outcomes is how Duflo mentioned that in New Delhi slums, young girls die from diarrhea at a rate twice that of boys. Anyone who loves their family and friends can imagine themselves in the position of a family who has to make a decision of what family member to provide food and medical resources to. Although, in light of all this, Duflo enlightens us to the idea though that there are two significant pathways that through diverse action, the gender inequality that is seen in so many areas around the world can be lessened and eventually eradicated. As she displays, we need to bring countries out of poverty and provide the economic and labor opportunities proper to cultivating a society in which women can thrive. But we also need to make significant action in addressing the gender inequality that has existed throughout history and empower women through education, policy, and further diverse opportunities.
Toggle Commented Oct 9, 2020 on Duflo for Friday at Jolly Green General
I found this paper quite interesting, because not only did the author provide a fairly comprehensive history of land-grant institutions, but additionally he connected the evolutions of American education to his own personal experiences. To firstly address his introduction, I do think it is truly fascinating how much the scope of education has changed in the United States over the past few generations. It is true, I believe my grandmother only made it to 8th grade. Though that wasn't necessarily as much of an impediment back in those days as it is now. Now, if you are fortunate enough to have access to education, it is seemingly expected of young people to attend college. The fabric of education in the United States has been dramatically altered, and now it seems to me from my experience that at least in relatively well-off areas, higher education has become the norm. As for the history of land grant institutions, I think it is very interesting to consider how much opposition there was to this legislation despite the fact that so many Americans were involved in the agricultural sector at that time. Although of course those in politics and other modernized sectors may have been somewhat removed from this world of agriculture and farming, I believe that is how most of their constituents were employed. One can see some of the similarities between the history detailed in this paper and the modern-day lobbying that we see within our government. This legislation faced substantial opposition because slave owners in the South would likely be at a disadvantage in terms of land values. It is difficult to think that there was a time that the politicians in the American government catered to these interests, with even President Buchanan avoiding signing the legislation into law because he was nervous it would incite the Civil War. Thankfully, President Lincoln was able to confront that opposition during his time as president and effectively pass this legislation which has had lasting impacts since its introduction.
Toggle Commented Oct 2, 2020 on For Friday's Discussion at Jolly Green General
Man, it can be tough to read articles and projections such as these related to global climate change. In one sense, knowing what we know and reading articles like the Quiggin one, our future can seem optimistic. We have the technology and the creative population necessary to enact positive change that protects our environment while simultaneously meeting the energy and production needs of future populations. I think it is important to demonstrate the predicted consequences of inaction, though it can be intimidating to an individual human being. Projections such as the World Bank one can be slightly more imposing, clearly identifying what is accepted within the scientific community about likely environmental impacts and damages that will ensue directly as a result of global climate change and affect billions of people throughout the world. With the diversity of impacts and the complexity of the global interconnected system that will be responsible for addressing climate change on significant levels, it seems at times like international governments are the only institutions capable of allocating the necessary funds and resources to produce the necessary change and motivation that is needed. That can be scary at times like these when our American government blindly ignores the widely-accepted consensus, the truth, at a time when we are at the pinnacle of this global challenge. I feel empowered knowing I can conduct my own life to be better aligned with my knowledge and beliefs about the world, environment and consumption, and I am always an optimist. The people and our consumption habits can dictate our collective energy use and production within this nation and of course influence the government that represents us. But I am concerned by the time frame that has been presented to us, knowing that if we do not enact change in the present, these issues may be unavoidable. That's totally freaky to a young person like myself who has just come of age enough to really understand more of the true workings within society. I think all we can do is be grateful for each and every day and do all that we can as people, with our consumption habits and political efficacy, to enact change. I feel for all the people around the world who are likely to be far more greatly affected by these environmental changes than I will be. I believe we can figure this thing out, but we have to act as well as hope. Whoo.
Toggle Commented Sep 25, 2020 on Readings for Friday at Jolly Green General
This article presents some key topics regarding South Korea’s economic development in the latter half of the 20th century, with most of its gains starting around 1961 with the new military government. Something that caught my interest, though, was how the country was primed for this economic expansion in the decades before, namely with dramatic increases in school enrollment and land reform. Throughout the beginning of the article, the importance of American economic aid was a focus, and surely the development and pursuit of greater amounts of schooling for citizens was helped with American aid. Though, it is of course important not just to have schools, but to have good schools. Although the American aid was allowing for the infrastructure to create schools and hire employees, what other factors enabled South Korea to produce such an effective school system beyond just what money could buy? Additionally, this reading relates back to the original reading we had for Monday of this week. Although some mechanisms of economic development in this circumstance for South Korea may have seemed unorthodox by some western standards (military government, decreasing reliance on foreign aid, subsidizing export industries, etc), South Korea was able to effectively apply them within the cultural contexts of the country during that period, which allowed them to successfully ameliorate their economic situation as much as they did.
Toggle Commented Sep 18, 2020 on Miracle on the Han for Friday at Jolly Green General
In this article, Krugman speaks often about the difficulties of tackling complex issues and systems in economic models and thinking, but I feel like this paper in itself exemplifies the inherent complexities of economic issues. I think Krugman pretty well demonstrates the breadth of economics and how wide-ranging its applications can be, of course with a focus on the historical works of development economists and some of his perceived shortcomings of their lack of formal models accompanying their thinking. I understand Krugman's general conclusions about the importance of models and how they are often necessary in his opinion to back economic ideas and concepts. Though, as many of us students have personal experience with, the reliance on formal models can be distracting from the actual concepts they are representing. I agree with Krugman that it is important to have models to create consistency in teaching and passing down economic information, but I think it is especially important when educating young economists to first have the conversations and dialogue that the models represent. I know from my experience that I have on occasion learned certain complex economic models, only to understand what they fully represent after I learned the functionality of the model itself. I think Krugman is of course aware of the necessity to have these conversations and not immediately jump to formal applications, as he explains with his personal critiques of formal economic models. I think especially in these times, as the world, and in particular issues related to economic development, continues to grow and become increasingly interconnected, it is even more important to develop a strong theoretical framework before converting theories into models. In fact, there is more opportunity for experimentation and investment than ever before. One question I had while reading this article, after observing Krugman's review of Rosenstein Rodan's shoe factory example for developing nations. There is much talk about these theoretical frameworks, but how much legitimate action or investment has occurred to validate the Big Push theory or other traditional theories of economic development, including the High Development Theory? I think there is more opportunity to test certain theories of development with hopefully few negative externalities, given the amount of money and wealth currently distributed throughout the world's developed nations.
Toggle Commented Sep 11, 2020 on Krugman for Friday at Jolly Green General
After reading this paper, I can begin to see how some of the ambitions of the Sustainable Development Goals that we have read about seem to already apply to the economic successes and downfalls of different nations around the world. In fact, in table 4 of this reading, we can see that some of the most important factors contributing to lagging economies in the 10 poorly performing nations surveyed are either directly tied or somewhat dependent on the functioning of government and its representation of the people. Factors such as government misallocation, corruption, unnecessary protectionism, and even financial instability are all related to government or could be improved through acts of government. This was one of the key sustainable development goals that many of us had discussed last week. The importance of well-functioning governments is key to ameliorating the economic standing of some of these more impoverished nations. It is also one of the responsibilities of these governments to observe economic and worldly trends and help to allocate resources to better adjust to a modernizing world in which each nation can better improve their industries and technology. Nations such as Mauritius, that observed the potential for investing in the tourism industry and out of agricultural production have seen dramatic improvements in economic standing. Same with the other well-performing nations that adjusted resources to become more export-dependent. In contrast, as other people have already touched upon, the import substitution policies and investment in outdated industries have kept some of the poor-performing nations in economic stagnation or backwards movement. Although adjusting to the changing preferences and trends of the modern age may call for an upheaval of the way things were traditionally done, they seem to have positive effects for nations that are able to embrace change and the niche they fill within the increasingly connected global economy.
Toggle Commented Sep 3, 2020 on Reading for next Friday at Jolly Green General
Throughout reading Sach's article about the Sustainable Development Goals, I largely felt optimistic about the world's potential to address the wide range of causes that are largely responsible for the persistence of global poverty and lack of wellbeing. Sach himself demonstrates that he believes all the goals are achievable in full by their timeframe of 2030. Though, that optimism is also paired with a pressing need to address rapidly changing ecosystems and political/societal circumstances. To begin with, I think it is apparent that the greater amount of time we take as a global society to adequately combat climate change, the less opportunity we will have to take preventative measures instead of measures in response. Those in poverty will be more disproportionately affected by these climate change events and trends. Thankfully, some nations are at the forefront of educating their citizens about climate change and taking action, though environmental conservation of course is greatly affected by the present global political sphere. This article was published in 2012, and in subsequent years we have witnessed a shift in perspectives about climate change and proper necessary action amongst some nations, with a few notable ones trending toward less environmental protection being the American and Brazilian governments. An analysis of the current path toward combatting climate change must be looked at in reality, which in some cases has a few current roadblocks that must be considered. Therefore, I think it is even more important than ever when thinking about achieving these sustainable development goals to take into account the agency and influence of each individual on this planet. In this article and in general rhetoric about these subjects, I feel like a lot of focus is put on governments and the private sector, which is of course necessary as they have enormous influence and the power to reallocate resources. Though, I think that not enough attention is paid to the pathways by which individuals can address not only environmental concerns, but also the topics of social inclusion and economic development that were mentioned in the sustainable development goals. For the environmental aspect, I think it is so vital to remind and educate people about the processes that go into producing the food, energy, and material goods they consume. People can also, especially in today's world, continue to pursue empathy and political understanding instead of divisiveness and competition. This will hopefully help lead to common goals that benefit more of the world. In addition, I think there is great room for more empathy and kindness in the world, which can help to address the issues of social inclusion that are currently present across the world. Lastly, I think for economic development, I don't think I fully understand why there is such intense wealth inequality across the world, but even within countries such as the United States. Not to cast judgement or dispersions, but I wonder if each person in this country who has bought more than three Ferraris were to have not bought that last Ferrari and potentially donated or used that money for the benefit of others (imagine not just specifically nice cars but expanded further), what sort of progress that could make toward improving the levels of poverty and inequality that are currently present throughout the world. Just some thoughts. Of course many of these points I make apply to people who have the means to do so and who are not themselves embedded within the world of poverty that needs to be addressed throughout the world. But these people are the ones who likely have the most means to combat some of the systemic issues related to poverty that we currently see.
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Aug 27, 2020