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Sarah Beaube
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I found this article to be really interesting as it illustrated that the effects of microfinance can vary greatly from community to community. In my opinion, one of the most important takeaways from this reading is that the recipe for increasing opportunities will vary greatly in different communities. It will take time and patience to figure out the best way to do this -- to spot differences and create the right design for them. This somewhat reminds me of the O-ring theory, actually. Maybe tweaking one small detail in the design could produce vastly different results. Another section that I found compelling was the one on savings. In providing women access to saving accounts, it is astonishing to see the positive impacts. We have spoken countless times in class about how women in developing countries often lack the autonomy to save. I found it empowering that women's autonomy over expenditures and saving can be so profoundly impacted by changes in microfinance / access to to savings accounts.
To be quite honest, there were fair amounts of this paper that I struggled to understand and grasp. I haven't ever really engaged with a lot of the technical things that this paper discusses, so I found it somewhat dense and hard to understand -- as it seems most of my peers did too. From what I did grasp, at a basic level, this article relayed the importance of inter-country connections and how each country's financial actions can influence another's. Namely, the US has immense market power to dictate how other markets do. I think a class discussion will really help me sort out this paper and what the main points are.
Toggle Commented Nov 19, 2021 on ... at Jolly Green General
This paper seems to confirm pretty much every conversation we have had about education in this class. The returns to education are countless. Because of how much this paper confirmed my beliefs, I tried to also look at it from a critical lens (which was frankly pretty hard to do). For example, when the paper brings up that girls' education should be given preference over boys, I pushed back and thought "well don't boys deserve it just as much as girls do?" Of course, the paper explains that girls' should be given preference because the rates of return on education for them are higher than that of boys. This is because so many fewer of them are educated that much progress can be made. One part of the paper that I hope to dig a little deeper into and talk about in class more is the difference between the full discounting method and the Mincerian method. I need a better understanding of them both in order to appreciate these studies more.
Toggle Commented Nov 12, 2021 on For Friday's Discussion at Jolly Green General
There is no doubt that this was a heavy article. I feel like people often think of climate change as a "far-off" consequence of our current decisions. This article makes it abundantly clear that climate change is already happening and its effects will become more devastatingly pronounced for the next generations. One of the connections between our previous class discussions and this paper was how increasing risks for agriculture will not only negatively affect agriculture in regions like Latin America and the Caribbean, but also the other countries dependent on those exports. The paper mentions how soybean production could decline up to 70% in some places in Brazil. This reminded me of the question: what does deforestation in Brazil have to do with pork consumption in China? If Brazil is unable to produce soybeans due to the dramatically changing climate, places like China will not be able to raise their animals. This obviously negatively impacts both markets. All too often, I think people only think about climate change in terms of environmental changes. This paper reinforces the second part to climate change -- how do those environmental changes affect real people? While this paper demonstrates how undeveloped countries in places like Africa will bear the weight of developed countries' choices, it also shows that in the future, climate change will affect us all. This paper reinforced the idea that climate changes effects are insanely wide-ranging -- from Africa to Europe, to North America and Latin America. There will be droughts and floods, sea level rising, increased risk of disease, and more. Now, I would like to learn more about policy options to help mitigate these issues so that future generations are left with the ability to be as well off as we are (as Solow says).
Toggle Commented Oct 21, 2021 on For Friday's Discussion at Jolly Green General
I really enjoyed reading this article. In particular, I felt that the juxtaposition between the problems that South Korea faced in the 1960s versus the 2000s was interesting. Where the history in this article begins, South Korea started off as an impoverished, agricultural state. This reminded me of our discussions at the beginning of the term about agricultural versus modern sectors. Given South Korea was a traditional, or agricultural sector, they had little chance of booming economic development without major structural changes and investments from foreign sources. Given my limited knowledge about South Korean history, I was pretty shocked at how much American aid South Korea was receiving during its development between 1946 and 1976. Obviously, those investments paid off. South Korea today has a booming economy and faces problems that only developed countries face In class, we have briefly talked about the role of luck in development. I do wonder how much of South Korea's development was a side effect of circumstances lining up just right, to form the perfect conditions for an economic boom. Would what happened in South Korea work in a sub-Saharan African country without so much influence from countries like Japan? Probably not. This is not to say that the South Korean government was not strategic, just that they had bouts of luck that got them to be the technological powerhouse they are today. Every country's success is based partly on luck.
I found this article to be very interesting, especially in relation to Wednesday's reading from Sen. To begin, I found the discussion of the three Latin American and five sub-Saharan African countries ("development laggards") to be especially interesting. As is mentioned in the article, many Latin American and African countries have suffered from historical challenges that have hindered their growth. These challenges include high levels of inequality, political instability and corruption, racial tensions, and a vulnerable integration into the global economy. I also noticed a trend in countries that only recently declared independence (Comoros, Ghana, Kenya, Uganda) -- these countries have not had a long time to grow and gain experience in the global economy. I believe that vulnerable integration in the world economy is something important to further discuss. An example of this is African and Latin American countries' vast dependency on exports with low added values. Moreover, these countries tend to lack a diversification of activity, which provides deep economic trouble if your main export (for example, cacao in Cote d'Ivoire) struggles. Each of these struggles highlights a lack of development within the countries. As Sen would argue, this lack of development coincides with a lack of freedom. In order to promote development, I believe a much greater emphasis must be put on both freedom from (ex: corruption, persecution, unfreedoms) and freedom to (ex: invest in one's economy). This lack of institutional or governmental protection of freedoms relates Wang, Wong, and Yip's argument that institutional barriers play the largest role in developing an economy. For these countries to flourish, they need to enact developing enhancing factors. But how is this feasible when these "development laggers" face such vulnerability in the global economy? Is it developed countries' duty to assist underdeveloped countries to grow their economies? There is both a moral and economical argument for this.
Toggle Commented Sep 30, 2021 on For Friday's Discussion at Jolly Green General
To begin, I enjoyed reading Sachs viewpoint on the necessity of implementing the Sustainable Development Goals. Furthermore, I believe Sachs is right on the money when he mentions that the content of the SDGs should focus on global participation as well as lessons that the MDGs have taught us. As Sachs lays out his idea for the first three SDGs, he argues that the first SDG should be that by or before 2030, “all the world’s people will have access to safe and sustainable water and sanitation, adequate nutrition, primary health services, and basic infrastructure”. He goes on to mention that while this may seem farfetched, it is not. He claims that it is not a farfetched goal because there are many low-income people suffering in societies that have the means to address their issues. While I believe this argument is partly true, I think that it undermines the complexity of the issue. If it were as simple as encouraging countries to reallocate their resources to help the impoverished, every country would have done it by now. Whether or not a country should do something and will do something are two separate things. With this being said, while I argue that Sachs oversimplifies the challenges of SDG 1, I do believe that it is a goal that should be worked toward overtime. Another aspect of Sach’s research that I found interesting was his discussion of the success and shortcomings of the MDGs. Sachs makes several good points. For example, if the SDGs should ever create meaningful change, there needs to be support from the private sector. After all, the private sector is a large driver in things like global emissions. While this is true, I again think Sachs is somewhat naïve in his belief that for the SDGs to succeed, governments will need to (and have the resources to) invest in real-time data reporting systems. I would hypothesize that these types of reporting systems would be a very costly expense for low-income countries. Would the benefit of investing in them outweigh the effects it could cause on their economy? Maybe the answer would be for high-income countries to come together to donate or loan this technology to less developed countries. While I spoke mostly of the criticisms and questions I have regarding the reading, I do fully believe in the importance of something like SDGs. As Sachs mentions, in order to take a triple bottom line approach to sustainability, global networks will have to come together to think critically about the best way to implement these goals.
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Sep 16, 2021