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Adelaide Burton
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This paper tracks US foreign aid to developing countries as it affects the recipient country’s MPI, or multidimensional poverty index. Consistent with much of our reading, this paper studies the outcomes of aid as it affects education, health, and living standards, instead of simply focusing on changes in income. Previous studies have had mixed success tracking the results of foreign aid, concluding that aid can sometimes help or not help a country's development, and that it depends on external factors. Most of these factors are controlled for in the OPHI study, although that part of the study setup was a little confusing for me. The study tracked US aid from 1949-1997 vs the average poverty levels (MPI) from 2000-2014, and tracked a negative correlation between aid and MPI. I found the discussion of the goals of aid interesting, especially in the context of the US. Aid can often be politically motivated instead of motivated simply by human rights, and I believe when the motives for aid are distorted by political agendas, the return on MPI is likely less important. I’d be interested to hear about further study that can closely track aid through a developing country’s economy to determine the most effective avenues for aid.
Toggle Commented Nov 13, 2020 on Last Post of the Year at Jolly Green General
This paper compares the inside and outside view of what drives capital flows in emerging markets. The inside view is the idea that internal factors like reform, government stability, and improved infrastructure attract investors to emerging markets, while the outside view is the idea that low interest rates in the US drive lenders to search for alternative emerging markets that may have a higher yield. One view of the internal draw was observed in the 90s with reform in Latin America and the increase in capital, but it happened to coincide with a steep drop in US interest rates. The paper asserts that both push and pull factors are at play as drivers of capital. Emerging markets have a higher potential for growth than developed economies like the United States, but also have significantly higher risk. This paper tracks the relationships between internal and external factors on lending, which is essentially the supply of debt issuance and the demand of these high yield securities, and concludes that both inside and outside factors affect capital flow. I'm not 100% sure I understood the conclusion correctly, but the premise of analyzing the push/pull factors was interesting.
Toggle Commented Nov 6, 2020 on For Friday's Discussion at Jolly Green General
The idea of conditional cash transfers uses the “teach a man to fish” idea of investing in education to improve conditions in the future. This article analyzes the long term effects of the Progresa, the Mexican conditional cash transfer program used to encourage families to keep their children in school in order to receive the cash benefits. By targeting the poorest, most marginalized communities, the program both alleviated immediate poverty with the cash transfers, and ideally alleviated poverty for the students as their additional education would allow them opportunities to participate in the workforce or make more income. Once again, the article emphasises the importance of educating women, as the program appeared to have the most impact on girls who were able to stay in school longer as a result of the CCT. Interestingly, the article mentioned that the cash transfers were given to the mothers in the family, which I’m not sure is a result of women being perceived as primary caretakers of their children or the association of women with responsible financial decision making, more likely to invest the money back into the children. The article mentions but does not offer conclusions on the debate between conditional vs unconditional cash transfers, but the evidence presented is overwhelmingly positive about the long term effects of CTCs and the potential to break the cycles of intergenerational poverty. It would be interesting to see if a similar policy would ever be considered in the US given this evidence, targeting the most marginalized groups with the highest dropout rates with CTCs.
Toggle Commented Oct 29, 2020 on For Friday's Discussion at Jolly Green General
This paper proposes many interesting studies on the private and social returns to education, but no one answer is comprehensive or satisfactory. The conclusion of the paper briefly mentions this, but I find it hard to view any measure of return on investment from studies that do not account for inputs like discrimination, quality of economy, industry of work, and other issues that differentiate the quality and quantity of education and income. Regardless of how daunting a task that might seem, the general trends in return on education seem to hold throughout many different surveys, and these trends are important for forming economic policy. Personal benefit of a higher income might encourage students to stay in school longer or parents to encourage their students to attend. Social benefit is much more difficult to quantify, as it’s more complex than just income. Health, happiness, and non-monetized productivity are difficult to put a number on, and therefore there is ambiguity in the number for social benefit -- which is also the number that would likely lead to policy changes and increase in public subsidization of education. It was interesting to read the progress and development of this study as described in the article, but it’s clear that there are many additional avenues to explore.
Toggle Commented Oct 22, 2020 on For Friday's Discussion at Jolly Green General
Duflo’s argument thoroughly addresses the arguments for women’s empowerment related to economic development. Women’s empowerment as a driver for development, and development increases women’s empowerment, but this isn’t necessarily a continuous loop. Policy makers have to decide whether to proactively promote women’s rights, independence, autonomy, ect through policy or to focus on economic development and let women’s empowerment follow suit. Interestingly, many male dominated legislative groups and economists make the latter argument, and neglect to address women’s rights directly. Duflo compares the two perspectives and concludes that both are necessary to promote women’s equality and agency. What surprised me from the table of indicators was that labor force participation has only increased 2% since the 1980s. Duflo and Sen described the almost universal cultural pressure for women to be wives and mothers rather than workers, and, ultimately, this is still the prevailing notion today. Women who chose to enter the workforce are made to choose between children and a career (even if that isn't truly the only options), and if they choose a career they are faced with workplace sexism, unfair wages, and hiring discrimination. It's not surprising that women aren’t joining in higher numbers if the environment of many industries is still built on a sexist culture. This is a prime example of the argument for policy promoting women’s rights: although economic development may increase women’s opportunities for employment, without policy against workplace harassment, hiring practices, and a cultural shift, women still are at a disadvantage. Of course, the choices that women face in poverty are extremely different than those of more developed countries. Where an educated woman might choose to study art instead of banking because of internalized misogyny and early childhood discouragement, women living in poverty have to face choices of eating and starving, providing healthcare for themselves or their children. Without an income, women remain dependent on their partners, and cannot likely improve their station. Income and economic development are not sufficient to improve women’s agency without political action to ensure an equal social standing to men.
Toggle Commented Oct 9, 2020 on Duflo for Friday at Jolly Green General
My grandparents attended Auburn, which they affectionately call their “cow college” and have informed me that the school is now a land, air and sea grant university. To enter campus you drive through miles of fish hatcheries and labs that undoubtedly influence the large agricultural industry in lower central Alabama. All of this to say, the physical infrastructure as well as the organization of land grant institutions has been successfully established, but the article argues that currently too few resources are allocated to funding the education and research of these institutions given the return on investment. In Professor Cooper’s ethics of agriculture class, we talked about the importance of the agriculture extension office and how these resources have transformed farms. Our food system is deeply flawed, with high subsidies for corn and soy (which can’t feed a population), farming practices that degrade the environment and aren’t sustainable in the long run, and inequity in the access to healthy foods and hunger as a result. Land grant institutions can address these problems, as well as problems in the future that will arise with climate change. Another point that stood out to me was the classism involved in the formation of these institutions. Farmers hold an interesting position in society, as they are one of the most “essential” workers, but are often regarded as simple working class. In the article, one of the lobbyists for the creation of land grant institutions “did not envision an agricultural college for commoners” and I found this distinction between a trade school and the idea for the land grant institutions a little unsettling but also a little bit true. The schools now do not only produce farmers, but also scientists, engineers, economists, and other professionals who are developing technology and implementing improvements that help farmers and the American food system. Overall, the discussion of pros and cons that occurred in the 1800s was riddled with elitism and connections to slavery, but ultimately its evident that the social benefit of these schools reaches all classes of society.
Toggle Commented Oct 2, 2020 on For Friday's Discussion at Jolly Green General
Ed Lake’s article covered an ambitious range of issues reminiscent of the UN Sustainability goals. His main thesis was that the eradication of poverty and climate change are synergistic, which isn’t news for us who’ve read the sustainability goals and thought about the connections between the goals. He uses the line “we can end world poverty without destroying the planet” but I’d argue that also we can’t save the planet without ending world poverty. Lake establishes many connections between poverty and carbon emissions, and in my head there's a relationship between absolute poverty with the “advantage of backwardness” and low environmental impact, transitional stages of wealth and infrastructure development and increasing environmental impact, and then the higher end transitions like electric cars and clean energy as the apex of both economic development and environmental-friendliness. It’s interesting to me that Lake pulls examples from all three of these economic points, like comparing the transition from hunger or undernutrition to sustainable food systems and a transition from diesel trucks to Teslas. Eliminating poverty is a tremendously daunting task, but making these connections between the transition out of poverty and its positive environmental externalities makes the ideas of development even more appealing.
Toggle Commented Sep 24, 2020 on Readings for Friday at Jolly Green General
Learning about South Korea’s unique path to economic development really proved the point of the growth strategies paper that claimed there was no straight path to development. Unique features of South Korea’s culture and politics formed the right means of development for its citizens. Unlike the American idea that the economy will grow through free markets and innovation, South Korea’s military government was able to gradually loosen control of the markets while still holding the reigns of certain controls. An interesting example was the discouragement of luxury goods and campaigns for family planning and birth control as means to promote saving. While in the US that would be likely condemned as overly parental governance, it was based on sound economic evidence and overall resulted in increased economic prosperity. Also interesting was the focus on education, which improved the quality of the labor force and allowed the country to modernize industry and grow beyond just manufacturing jobs. By improving education and health standards, South Korea not only improved the country economically, but it followed Sen’s idea of development as the expansion of freedoms.
Toggle Commented Sep 18, 2020 on Miracle on the Han for Friday at Jolly Green General
The Krugman paper provided additional insight to the history of development economics and how it has changed over time. He refers to the concept as “high development strategy” which is essentially the idea that development happens as a positive feedback loop, but it needs an initial “push” to break out of a low level trap. The idea of the “big push” reminded me of the institutional barriers paper, which provides more insight into how complex these “traps” can be. This requires complex solutions, and Krugman mentioned ideas like coordinated investment and government intervention as means to jumpstart the “self reinforcing growth” of a developing economy. Krugman also mentioned the idea of development of ignorance and the changes in the field of economics, which makes sense in the context of chapters three and four that timelined different theories and models. The interaction with policy, poverty, and real people instead of theoretical models separates development economics from traditional economics, and I agree with Krugman that the conclusions in development economics can be just as valid even if they aren’t supported by traditional technical evidence.
Toggle Commented Sep 10, 2020 on Krugman for Friday at Jolly Green General
This paper provided a really interesting analysis of different connections between lagging and fast growing economies. Although I found the analysis in table 3 a little hard to understand, the country profiles were helpful in explaining the factors that affect economic growth over time. Many of the fast growing countries benefited from modernizing their industry into technology and manufacturing, and had strong, diversified export strategies. While the article cites this as strong government planning, I think there is a distinction between the “good governance” we’ve discussed that leads to personal freedoms, and the governance described in this article that leads to economic growth without necessarily guaranteeing personal liberties or improved living conditions. Without any analysis of population well-being, the economic growth in these 10 countries seems positive, but not necessarily an ideal model for development. The connections between the “laggard” countries were consolidated into four problems: unnecessary protectionism, government misallocation, corruption, financial instability. I also found that many of these laggard countries had economies dependent on a single source, often an agricultural cash crop, and many of these countries suffered from population growth, inflation, and market instability. The article proposes opening markets to international trade and capital markets and modernizing industry. Although these solutions aren’t the focus of the article, the proposal seems oversimplified, because in many cases these corrections would require replacing a country’s government, retraining the population to work in modern industrial jobs, building infrastructure, and overcoming hard-set barriers that have slowed their development.
Toggle Commented Sep 3, 2020 on Reading for next Friday at Jolly Green General
In a couple of my environmental studies classes, we have looked extensively at the SDGs, so hearing a perspective from 2012 was interesting to see how far we have come. My first impression of the SDGs was that they seemed lofty and unattainable, but Sachs seems optimistic, and there is an implication of unity between nations and a general sense of urgency for environmental, economic, and social issues. I’m not sure that same optimism has translated 8 years later, and I don’t feel like we are on track to achieve what Sachs declared would be attainable in 2030: that “all extreme deprivation—hunger, extreme income poverty, and avoidable disease and deaths—can be eliminated.” What’s difficult to think about is that these goals require extensive resources, time, money, and planning to work, and the idea of the triple bottom line emphasises that countries can’t pick and choose which goals to go for, because they are all dependent on each other. There won’t be good health and well being without also accomplishing clean water and sanitation and climate action. There won’t be zero hunger without economic growth and reduced inequalities. The goals can be connected in a number of different ways, but it’s undoubtedly all co-dependent. I’d love to look into the accomplishments of different countries towards accomplishing the SDGs since they were adopted about five years ago, and hopefully as Sachs suggested, there is continuing timely and accurate data from many countries that proves commitment to these goals.
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Aug 27, 2020