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AJwitherell
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I thought Esther Duflo does a great job documenting the history and research on women’s role in economics so far. It encapsulates a lot of topics that people generally talk about, but also some that are not often discussed, such as the bargaining power over how many children to have. I thought it was interesting how Duflo discussed that males tend to prefer more children than women, as expected. More importantly, it was interesting to see the results of the study in Zambia that secrecy played a significant role in the decision for amount of children. One thing that caught my attention was in the section regarding an “implicit bias” of associating males with “career and the sciences” and females with “family and liberal arts.” I was slightly confused about the association test that Duflo cites for support, as I felt like the test doesn’t really show a great representation of this idea. Anyways, the last sentence is what really struck me and that “both women and men are more likely to associate women with family and men with careers.” This was particularly interesting because it wasn’t even that men were solely putting themselves in the “career” category, but also that women were putting themselves into those stereotypes as well. Another thing is that every time I see stats about life expectancy I am always astonished at how women outlive men. This piece made it particularly significant since it outlined so many ways that women are slighted compared to males. Every time I hear the stats I always begin to wonder reasons why these are the results. Is it because male health suffers from stress of trying to provide economically for family? I feel like that is a bit of stretch since women in many societies probably endure a lot of stress to avoid fights, abuse, or other further harm. Is it the compounding effects of rigorous manual labor wearing down male health? I would be curious to see further research in these particular impoverished cultures as to why women outlive men. All in all, I think that the biggest problem with women's empowerment in poorer cultures is the idea of the economic value of offspring. Subsistence farmers make up a large amount of the poor population, and males are preferred to be income-earners for the family. As we've discussed in our class, as well as in other development classes this semester, many cultures don't have a true economic value for women. This is very disheartening. I believe the primary method for climbing out of this discrimination/prejudice, whatever one wants to call it, is by the providing women some income-earning possibilities first. Most likely through state funding/legislature. Then, I think, the inherent discrimination against women will decrease at a faster rate. Again, it's disheartening that people can't recognize an equality between both sexes, but after all, these poor farmers need to earn an income or at least produce enough to survive. Until an income flow is generated in the economy for women, it will be difficult to shake the long-standing norms of female inequality.
Toggle Commented Oct 18, 2018 on ECON 280 for Friday at Jolly Green General
I think it is interesting to see how this article mirrors some of the concepts we have mentioned in class. Particularly, Krugman mentions how development policy sometimes does not truly reflect what the models are expressing, that basic assumptions are not being held constant to see the intended effects. Krugman cites that even in various aspects of science, some disciplines require models with extreme precision while others are based off of intuition and, quite frankly, little specific detail. Furthermore, I found it really interesting and unique how he compared the evolution of development economics to mapmaking in Africa. And although his point is a little confusing at first and I believe could use a bit more explanation, I think it is a valid point. Essentially saying that the rise in “smarts” and “rigor” led to advancements and model creation, but failed to tackle the gaps that allowed these models to ring true. In my opinion, he is talking about the assumptions that are necessary and how exactly to construct policy to force it true. Which circles back to what I commented above about how we are constantly discussing that the key to these models is to force underlying assumptions to hold true. On other note, I like his brief discussion about how development economics has lagged in accumulating a heavier mathematical basis. I don’t necessarily view this as a “bad” thing for development economics, primarily because there are so many qualitative factors that cannot be fully and accurately measured with values. Culture and history are two glaring examples that often play into the development discussion that don’t particularly have a unit value attached to them.
Toggle Commented Sep 27, 2018 on ECON 280 for Friday at Jolly Green General
I feel that Wang, Wong, and Yip present a strong argument here regarding the role of institutional barriers in the development process. After reading this article and Sen’s opinions in Development as Freedom, I am putting a larger stake into the importance of the political institutions. Typically the first things brought up in the development discussion are access to basic necessities (water, food, shelter), but I feel as though often times it is left out that institutions play a vastly important role in enacting the development goals. Following Sen’s narrative, institutions play a role in providing social programs for providing the basics to the poor (clean water, sanitation, electricity, health). However, they also represent an important player in the creation and access of capital markets for the poor, as well as industrialization in general. All in all, institutions play a role in all aspects of development some way or another. What surprises me most about this piece is the aspect that all of the lagging countries in the second group are operating in a democratic/representative republic political regime. Typically, we think of that as the best form of government for development, and even Sen argues for the installation of representative forms of government such as democracies. Furthermore, I believe the reading left out some important aspects of the lagging countries. For example, a lot of Ivory Coast’s corruption comes in its trade and imports industry, and the article doesn’t really mention this. In addition, the majority of the argument surrounding Kenya’s revolves around international financial crises and price changes. To me, this seems like an external cause that is not entirely in-line with the primary argument of poor internal institutions resulting in poor economic growth. Albeit, stronger and political institutions may have had it slightly less severe, but it seems to me like it isn’t really an on/off switch to rebound from international crises. After all, it took the United States a handful of years even as a leader in developed economies. Overall, I still believe the reading had a strong argument despite some of its shortcomings. I think it could have been stronger with some further information, and certainly poses important questions about developing strong institutions even within established democracies.
Toggle Commented Sep 20, 2018 on ECON 280 for Friday at Jolly Green General
I thought this piece was pretty well written in its brevity, and I’m sure there is a lot more that can be written about this. While reading through it, I couldn’t help but keep thinking of the expression “Give a man a fish, feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, feed him for life.” From the dialogue in the reading, it seemed to me like the MDGs were more in line with the first half of the expression. Where as, the SDGs are more in tune with the second half. Under the MDGs, the rich countries kind of sat back and helped the poor primarily out of sympathy and pride. Now, I feel the goal of the SDGs is to not only help the poor out of sympathy, but also to teach the entire world (rich and poor countries alike) how to more appropriately and efficiently use our resources for the betterment of human nature. I do agree with the author's point that the new framework needs to be a legally binding set of rules. As this seems to be a much more effective way of getting many nations, states, groups, etc. on board. This further plays into my belief that proper and consistent governance is the most important aspect of this situation. Leaders are in great position to influence their people in an effective manner, and to keep those principle and attitudes for long periods of time. And as the author noted, these leaders can help drive the technological and social change required to make the SDGs successful.
Toggle Commented Sep 13, 2018 on ECON 280 at Jolly Green General
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Sep 13, 2018