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I had very little context surrounding South Korea’s economic development, so I was pretty impressed with the progress the country has made since the 1950’s considering the context on development we’ve gained in this course. One of my initial major takeaways was South Korea’s ability to bounce back from several events that could have been seriously catastrophic for their progress (changes of regimes/political systems, assassinations, economic recessions). Perhaps they were able to lean on U.S aid during some of these events. I was also impressed at their ability to shift the backbone of their economy several different times, from light industry, to heavy industry, into the modern technology/innovation space. Not only this, once they were considered a “developed” country, they were able to adapt to the new issues that came with development whether it be competing with other major exporters like China or dealing with immagration immersion issues. Some of the most interesting questions came at the end of the article: what were the main factors in this “miracle” being possible and what were the major consequences? It's hard to argue against American aid being a major factor whether that be aid in the form of a military presence, or through financial/trade measures. I think an underrated factor was the ability for the South Korean people to have a sense of nationalization through the “common enemy” in North Korea. Finally - what were the consequences? Obviously there are going to be some major issues in a military state seeking rapid development - the impact on the low wage workers of the country as well as the population of women in the country cannot be ignored.
I think this article does a fantastic job of comparing factors that have led to different economic growth and development growth rates over the last few decades. It's clear that economic disparities have widened - not only within countries themselves but between differing countries across the globe. We know that investment in physical capital, human capital, and health all will benefit development - but it's another thing to look at the real development factors that have benefitted or hurt different countries' development in recent history. When it comes to institutional barriers or the lack of developed institutions in general, I think the presence or lack of institutions is likely a positive or negative feedback loop. If a country has a good presence of institutions, those institutions will only improve themselves over time. If a country has a lack of institutions, it is extremely difficult to introduce new, successful institutions into the country and culture. While I agree with the article that institutions are the most important factor, I think the idea of TFP connects well to many of the example counties that the article discusses. How well can the country industrialize to become export-led? This is a crucial point for development. Hong Kong for example, encouraged rapid growth in their industrial sector which has now led them to be able to transition into a service based economy. Taiwan (similarly to Hong Kong) benefitted from significant foriegn investment which allowed their industries to progress. Compare these examples to countries like Ghana - where industrialization has failed. Could this be due to a lack of skills due to the lack of institutions? Côte d’Ivoire is another important example as their economy has been dependent on commodity exports for so long that all foreign investment has been centered on this commodity export - thus leaving them vulnerable. Finally, I wonder how these points connect with our Wednesday reading and the idea of freedom. How can freedom and agency help within some of these countries? Would a foreign investment in education allow for the education of individuals leading to them gaining new skills, and thus having greater agency?
Toggle Commented Oct 1, 2021 on For Friday's Discussion at Jolly Green General
I think the article did a great job of summarizing the context behind both the MDG and SDG goal systems. I actually was familiar with the SDG goal system but had not heard or studied the MDG goals. I liked how the author laid out how the MDG goals had some success largely due to the fact that the goals were measurable and time bound, serving as a sort of “report card” for countries to fight against poverty and poor life conditions. I agree that the goals had their shortcomings as well - especially the claim that the goals were almost exclusively aimed toward low income, developing countries. I also think that, like we discussed in class, the progress that we saw on the MDGs could be influenced by the main outlier, China. The SDGs, according to the author, take a step forward by forming the “triple bottom line” of economic development, environmental sustainability, and social inclusion. My first reaction to the author's description of the system is to question how the goals differ for various countries. If the criteria for improvement is different for each nation, then will we see progress across the board or only in the countries that need the most improvement or are most willing to improve? My next question is whether these goals are mutually exclusive or not? The author makes the claim that the goals are likely not mutually exclusive, and depend on the progress of the authors. While I agree with this to a certain extent, I think the methods of social inclusion improvement and environmental sustainability improvement differ so much that, in some ways, they will be completely different in how they are achieved. I do agree, however, that all three will depend on good governance. It's frustrating that the United States, among other countries, has a history of not “buying in” to global efforts to combat environmental issues. If GDP and other current economic measures are not good enough at measuring a country's progress, what measures can we start using? The first step for SDGs to succeed will be to repeat the positive aspects of MDGS, which include awareness, ease of distribution, and the ability for a goal to be achievable. The second step will be to improve in the areas where MDGs struggled: enforcement, intermediate milestones, data collection and distribution, private sector involvement, and direction of capital investments. If SDGs can improve in those areas and build off of past success, they will likely have a positive impact. The real question is how much of an impact they will have, and do some things need to change in order to maximize that change?
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Sep 16, 2021