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Katie Timmerman
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This was an intriguing empirical paper and I found the elements of the research to be well-organized and clearly expressed. However, I am confused about a pretty foundational aspect of the author's study; I am unclear on the relationship between poverty as MPI and poverty as income. Shouldn't one expect these two types of poverty to be interrelated? By that I mean, if there is a decrease in MPI indicators of poverty in, say, an initial time period, shouldn't we expect to see a subsequent decrease in income poverty in a later time period? I would think that better health, more education, and better living standards would enable people to increase their incomes. Therefore, I don't quite understand how aid could cause levels of MPI to decrease without also decreasing income poverty in a later time period (i.e. in the long-run). If a relationship of this type does not exist, then economic growth necessary to sustain improved levels of MPI will not occur. Thus, a country would merely be reliant for the long-term on foreign transfers of wealth to improve their MPI levels of poverty. It seems, intuitively, that the most efficient way of decreasing poverty is to establish sustainable means for a nation to improve its health, education, and living standards. Since it takes money to achieve these ends, income poverty and the overall economic growth of a nation are certainly of high concern for solving poverty. Theoretically, initiating aid that creates improvements in MPI indicators would lead to subsequent decreases in income poverty and to increased overall growth. If that is not the case, I'm not sure I understand how nations would be able to establish strong, independent economies that can sustain themselves and improve poverty permanently without relying on permanent foreign support. My questions after reading this paper are then: are the improvements in MPI creating successive improvements for successive generations? Aren't MPI poverty and income poverty linked, and shouldn't they create a positive feedback loop for one another in the long-run?
Toggle Commented Nov 13, 2020 on Last Post of the Year at Jolly Green General
This paper was enjoyable because it is optimistic and persuasive on the topic of the benefits to investing in human capital through conditional cash transfers. I was surprised by a number of the results, however, including the insignificance of increases in labor earnings for young adult males who received the cash transfers. On the other hand, women see much stronger effects of cash transfers on labor market outcomes, which corroborates our past readings/discussions about the higher returns to investing in female human capital. Still, why should there be insignificance in certain male returns? And how might that result vary by country? Since conditional cash transfers occur in other countries like the U.S., a similar study carried out elsewhere would be interesting to compare to Mexico. The explanation of the identification strategy was definitely hard to work through, and I'm still not clear on the endogeneity issues of enrollment intensity and migration. How would these bias the results? Overall, a good read with a really good message.
Toggle Commented Oct 30, 2020 on For Friday's Discussion at Jolly Green General
Truthfully, this paper came across as rather vague and unclear to me. The authors seemed to rush through the relationships they were talking about rather than delve into them a little deeper, which I would have appreciated. The syntax and the format of the paper were distracting and I didn't easily move from one subject to the next. I also was confused about the structure of the social and private returns. It was crazy to learn that the returns to investment in human capital are almost five times as large as the returns to stocks and bonds, and this paper overall provided evidence and incentive for investing in education. It was also interesting to more tangibly grasp the different theories regarding the value of education- i.e. the human capital and the screening hypotheses. Like the authors say, I wouldn't expect screening to play a large role but it does seem plausible that it plays some. It would depend on the job, but of course I think the highest returns obviously come to the most productive human capital.
Toggle Commented Oct 23, 2020 on For Friday's Discussion at Jolly Green General
Like some of my classmates, an aspect of this paper that stood out to me was on the topic of stereotypes surrounding men and women. Although we’ve talked in this class about the danger of attributing economic failures to culture, I would argue that certain attitudes and beliefs play a significant role in development (specifically Sen's definition of development as freedom). Sen also wrote about the importance of allowing a nation/group to decide for themselves between a potential trade-off between certain values and development. That can be seen when considering women empowerment. Both men and women throughout history have been susceptible to justifying a relative absence of agency and wellbeing for women. Thinking back to our discussion on education, clearly the best way to change discriminatory attitudes toward women and their abilities is to educate both men and women (boys and girls), of course in relevant skills etc. to increase the confidence and knowledge of girls, but also in regards to the rights of these girls and women. I’m sure there are other factors at play and humans are not always rational- but taking the witch accusations as an example, it seems very likely that an educated youth would be less likely to attribute disasters and misfortune to elderly women, following a more scientific mode of thought. Obviously, large scale quality education would benefit women in other situations. Also mentioned by Prof. Casey, it has been observed that even simply posting a visible statement promoting inclusion on a specific occasion showed a correlation with a decrease in instances of harassment/disinclusion. The more that men and women are taught and shown that women are capable, the more the freedoms of women will grow.
Toggle Commented Oct 8, 2020 on Duflo for Friday at Jolly Green General
Something that I did not fully understand in this paper was the benefit-cost ratio of 32 and how this ratio was indicative of inefficiencies of resource allocation. That aside, Epplin's paper was succinct and very easy to understand. The topic of the article is an interesting and currently relevant one. Education is clearly a game-changer, not only for the livelihoods of individuals but for the vitality of a whole society. It makes for a compelling argument for fewer barriers to higher/specialized education. Largely because of movements toward research/land grants and public education, I don't think that anyone in the U.S. today would feel that nine out of ten people in our society are sentenced to "grinding poverty and toil," obviously a great achievement. But still, many may not achieve higher education (for a variety of reasons), and it would be highly beneficial and efficient to make education more accessible. Another thought that occurred to me while reading Epplin's article was of the inefficiencies of many public schools. I know from experience that public high schools can be of relatively low quality and can even waste a good amount of time that could be used toward genuine/effective learning. It's hard to get to an institution of higher learning if you don't gain the proper skills and knowledge that you need as a foundation while in lower education. I'm certain many efforts have been undertaken to prevent wastefulness, and I would like to do some internet research to see what has been done and what more could be done to make public schooling effective for as many students as possible.
Toggle Commented Oct 1, 2020 on For Friday's Discussion at Jolly Green General
What a great read! John Quiggin's article was an optimistic but real description of the sustainability and developmental options facing nations amidst today's changing environment. The author poses the future's potential social, environmental, and economic condition in terms of choices, and he expresses the choices that face us with a hopeful outlook. Solutions to both environmental and economic problems are in reality much easier than many might believe, but they'll still take purposeful effort and small sacrifices. Quiggins places this idea in a framework that really inspires the reader to take action and to have hope. Great improvements in both sustainability and in economic equality is possible, with the correct technology- and, of course, with the will. An interesting and surprising aspect of Quiggin's explanations and his proposed solutions for the current situation is his emphasis on leisure over consumption. I do feel that so much value in placed on consumption in the U.S., and that perhaps a reality check in regards to this "conspicuous consumption" would be beneficial. Of course, there must be a balance between consumption and leisure. But if, as a society, the U.S. could change its attitudes and its values to reflect the superiority of human wellbeing over physical goods, like the author suggests, powerful changes would happen. I liked the phrase at the beginning of the article, that "This world is enough." The sentence embodies that we have the resources and the technology that we need to provide for everyone, in all nations, and it's our responsibility to steward them wisely, intentionally, and humanely.
Toggle Commented Sep 24, 2020 on Readings for Friday at Jolly Green General
The South Korean "economic miracle" is an incredibly impressive accomplishment. Case studies of successfully developed countries should nonetheless be interpreted with an eye toward guarding against a “one-size-fits-all” attitude, as warned by Dani Rodrik in her "Growth Strategies" working paper. It seems very likely that South Korea’s economic success was rooted in policies that, perhaps, could only function well enough for such phenomenal success in a particular historical and institutional environment. As author Michael J. Seth points out, the supporting circumstances here were probably the timing of South Korea's development, its ties to and the condition of U.S. and Japanese markets, and national incentives for growth (competition with North Korea and desire for autonomy from Japan and U.S.). The policies of the military government would no doubt have a very different effect under other circumstances. I think it’s very important to understand the costs of the economic growth in South Korea, however. The benefits to the country as a whole were certainly less than they were to what could be considered an oligarchy of government officers and chaebŏls. Clearly, the economic progress came at the expense of significant freedoms for laborers, especially citizens struggling in rural regions. Again, drawing on Amartya Sen’s work, economic development is truly successful when it creates and is created by freedom. Under a dictatorial government, this is not the case. I agree with Rodrik that each country’s distinct circumstances must play a part in designing effective policy, but there must have been a method whereby South Korea could have industrialized without violating the freedoms of many of its own citizens. The policies of education and land reform, for instance, led to increased freedoms and abilities, as well as equality among South Koreans. If the government could have proceeded with like-minded actions, the economic miracle could absolutely have been a success for all of its citizens.
Toggle Commented Sep 17, 2020 on Miracle on the Han for Friday at Jolly Green General
I found this reading to be highly enjoyable and very engaging. Krugman writes very persuasively about the role of models, their benefits and their limitations. He illustrates the importance and the usefulness of simplistic models, and his warnings about mistaking these maps for reality rings true, I especially liked that the author described the success of Murphy et al. in illustrating the Big Push model that was first formulated by Rosenstein as a consequence of them “daring to be silly,” i.e. of them going against popular methodologies, or of taking an all-or-nothing attitude toward economic modeling. By working with the tools and procedures that have been established, we can hope to effect the formulation of better models and a wider selection of tools. The trend that Krugman suggests by which ignorance must be experienced along with knowledge is another intriguing aspect of this read. It essentially describes the age-old process for learning anything new: trial and error. And, like Krugman urges, it would be a mistake to disregard simplification of reality for fear that we may lose the facts, because simplification of reality is the only method by which we can ultimately utilize those facts. After that, hopefully we can build back into our theories and our understanding of economics any truths that have been lost along the way, and end up with more knowledge than with which we first began.
Toggle Commented Sep 10, 2020 on Krugman for Friday at Jolly Green General
Like Ben who commented above, I'm currently in Prof. Grajzl's Comparative Institutional Economics class, so I'm also really interested in the specificities of what makes a highly efficient and functioning economy. This analysis of income disparities as due to institutional sources was intuitive but simultaneously well-laid out and explained in fairly clearly and simply. I feel that, in line with Amartya Sen's ideas described in Development as Freedom, the institutions and government policies that were focused on in this study lead to either more or fewer freedoms, which in turn lead to greater individual happiness and fulfillment. When governments are corrupt or follow misguided policies, the real choices of citizens decrease. I think that Didi made a good point in her critical look at purpose of development. However, rather than promoting either technological advances and industrialization OR the health and wellbeing of citizens, there should be a balance. They should be inextricably linked, because one is an investment in the other, and economic health and vitality should facilitate and reinforce the general wellbeing of a country's citizens- otherwise, what's even the point?
Toggle Commented Sep 3, 2020 on Reading for next Friday at Jolly Green General
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Sep 3, 2020