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Andrew Riehl
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The amount of information presented in the Executive Summary alone is overwhelming. The paper makes it very clear that if the Earth continues to warm at this alarming rate, the results could be devastating, especially for developing areas. Some of the possible outcomes if this trend continues include extreme weather patterns, rising sea levels, spread of diseases, and lower crop yields. Though these would present bad situations for everyone, it would be particularly cruel to developing nations. These nations are trying to attain basic aspects of life and they would not be able to adapt to the extreme climate change. The lower crop yields would be especially damaging because of developing nations’ general reliance on agriculture. I also worry for coastal areas in developing nations because of the rising sea levels. As some people have stated, most of the things we have talked about in class that we want to fix cannot be fixed if there are rapid changes in the climate. Some have also stated that the report is too pessimistic and does not offer any solutions. However, I think this report is supposed to scare people in order to get individuals and organizations to respond. I still remember watching An Inconvenient Truth in 7th grade and I do think it has had an effect on people going green, being more environmentally friendly, and at the very least knowing about the issue. This work can do the same and papers like this are about getting people more aware of the issue before we can address the problem. The paper was also probably very serious and pessimistic because change needs to happen very soon. The report was clear that once it gets past an increase of 2 degrees Celsius from the pre-industrial age, it might be too late. An increase in 4 degrees Celsius would be catastrophic.
To go along with what some people have said about the second reading, I find it very interesting the effect that financial policies of developed countries, specifically the interest rates, can have on the economic stability of developing countries. The world economy is linked in so many ways that we do not even realize. When the United States raises its interest rates and investors keep money in the country, it actually affects Latin America in negative ways. They cannot borrow as much and therefore the poverty continues to be a problem. Loans are necessary for them to reduce poverty as we learned in the microfinance reading. The opposite effect occurred after World War I in which interest rates remained low in the United States in order to get investors abroad for reconstruction and reform in Europe. It all shows that we can never look at one side of an issue and there is always something else going on that we originally did not take into consideration. I also, honestly, thought other parts of this reading were difficult to understand and had trouble understanding the other points of the article. I tried to gather as much as possible about it, but the technical terms and statistical talk made it tough. I am interested to learn more about the article tomorrow.
Last week, we emphasized the importance of increasing the quality of human capital in developing nations because of the success it has had on developed nations. The educational aspect of human capital allows people to make informed decisions and increase their work efficiency and work methods. This idea we talked about comes into play for this reading. The objective of this paper was to test the hypothesis that an increase in human capital (education specifically) increases the likelihood of partaking in an agroforestry development program. Agroforestry programs will in turn help the farmers to maintain quality of land and increase wages as opposed to slash-and-burn agriculture, which hurts the land. The article phrased it in a way so that more education means less uncertainty for farmers when the opportunity for agroforestry presents itself. To test this hypothesis, 175 farmers were interviewed in southeastern Mexico in 1998 and data collectors compiled information on different parts of their lives. The results convincingly showed that investment in human capital does lead to a higher probability of investment in agroforestry. As some people have stated, I wonder about the type and quality of education in that southeastern region of Mexico. I feel like on-the-job training and formal training could be enough. I think this is true especially when the second to last paragraph of the conclusion states the “most important” part is for farmers who have already implemented agroforestry systems to help spread the message of its effectiveness and for them to do the on-the-job training. I sincerely believe in formal education, however in this case, I think it is more practical and easier to train in order to improve agricultural practices. Training takes less time than formal education and can have immediate results. Maybe it is possible to increase training in the region, which will increase wages. Once the wages are increased then the households can spend money on education, which will have even more returns than just investing in agroforestry.
Toggle Commented Nov 5, 2014 on Econ 280 for Thursday at Jolly Green General
The lecture by Schultz and Lewis talks about the importance of the quality of the population over that of the quantity. They emphasize investments in health and education over time in order to get to population quality, similar to what we talked about in class. This is important because it leads to economic growth in the long run. Malaria is significantly affecting sub-Saharan Africa’s ability to grow economically. Health and education, two of the most important aspects of human capital, are being hurt considerably. Huge numbers of children cannot go to school because of the virus. Studies also show that malaria can affect cognitive abilities of the brain. Malaria also keeps people from going to work because families have to stay home to take care of kids. These African families also have to spend a significant portion of their money on disease control and prevention. Being located in the tropics has significantly hurt Africa because the effecting mosquitos love this climate. Countries like the United States had to deal with malaria on a much smaller scale when trying to become more developed. It is unfair and I think safe to say that malaria has caused Africa’s poverty more than poverty has caused malaria.
Toggle Commented Oct 29, 2014 on Econ 280 for Thursday at Jolly Green General
Child labor is one of the many problems in developing countries. It is a part of the vicious cycle that occurs in impoverished countries. A child is thrust into the work force, receives very little to no education, and because of this lack of education, remains poor. The children of this person then have to continue the tradition of child labor. It can be very hard to break this streak. The statistic for children working was particularly shocking to me: over 210 million children in 2000 between the ages of 5 and 14 were working and at least half of them were working full time. This number is a lot bigger than I would have thought and shows the need to correct the problem now. I also thought the article could have mentioned some of the other risks involved with child labor besides economic problems. In my environmental studies class, we learned about child workers in West Africa that used large machetes to cut down cocoa plants for a chocolate companies. This is dangerous because in some cases, the weapons were almost as tall as the children. The children are also be influenced by older workers and start using drugs and alcohol at young age. This hurts their development as humans and therefore society as a whole in the long run. There are many reason child laborers are forced to work. First of all, parents make them work due to financial needs. The family needs money now and it makes sense that they put their children to work because they were probably put to work as kids. These parents are also uneducated and do not understand the benefits of the long-term investment in education. They also do not understand the social benefits of the long-term investment in education. It makes sense that the long-term is not their immediate first thought though. This is why, as the article mentions, the important steps are to increase the quality of education and to subsidize for school enrollment as an article we read earlier in the year stated.
Toggle Commented Oct 23, 2014 on 280 Paper for Thursday at Jolly Green General
As other people have stated, I really like two of the examples he gives to illustrate his point about economic models. The African cartography example shows that even when you think you are advancing in skill and knowledge, some other important aspects can be lost or forgotten for a period of time. I had never thought about this and it’s a great point he brings up. The other model, Fultz’s dishpan, explains parts of weather patterns, but it is so simple that it obviously cannot explain everything. I also really like Juan’s point that we, as humans, want answers. We want the exact “physics” answer with no uncertainty as the article states. In economic models, there are so many assumptions and “it depends” that it can be difficult to make conclusions. Models though overall are used to simplify and teach concepts so it is vey important to make them relatively simple and to have assumptions to make them work. On the other hand, it is essential not to oversimplify some complex concepts because then it does not do that specific concept justice and people are not able to learn what it is all about. The other option is that people not take these oversimplified models too literally. Experts need to explain what this simplifies and what would normally happen when taking into account all parts of the concept. One new idea I’ve thought of is: what direct effects, if any, has this “fall” in development economics affected third world countries? I ask this question because I believe this gap must have hurt the progress of development economics and thus individual countries.
The reading explains how unpredictable economic development can be. Some policies work in certain time period, but not others. Some policies work in certain countries, but not others. It all depends on the historical, economical, and political contexts. One section that stood out focused on China’s economic development starting in the 1980’s. If an economist in 1978 were to suggest policy moves for China, they would choose none of the things that China actually did to develop their country. For example, they did not privatize lands but instead gave the power to local communities. They also liberalized agriculture only at the margin when they would have been fully recommended to do so at the time from the popular “Washington Consensus.” It ended up working for China anyway. Another complication comes forth when the author makes a general statement like “trade liberalization is good for economic performance.” He then says this is only true given the seven bullet points that follow the statement in the article. This section articulates the point that all policies are contingent on the context. This begs the question: is there even an overall answer to economic development or does it only work on a case-by-case basis? There might be a very general answer to economic development, but it is very non-specific and it is always open to change. I also found it really interesting how successful and unsuccessful economic growth happens regionally. Generally Sub-Saharan Africa moves together as well as Latin America and East Asia. Is this because their history and governments are similar or are there other reasons as well?
Toggle Commented Oct 1, 2014 on ECON 280 Paper at Jolly Green General
The RPS program in Nicaragua in theory is a great idea that increases school attendance and visits to health centers. While this is all generally true, there are many aspects of the program and data collected to question. First of all, as many have pointed out, the quality of the education when they arrive at school might not be very good. In many poor countries, the teachers are unqualified or they do not even show up according to our reading for last week. The children might be going to school more often, but the quality of education received could be low. Additionally, I do not like how they define power when determining which of the parents has more of it. Education is a part of the puzzle, but there are other factors that define power. A woman might be louder and more assertive than a shy husband even if the educations differ. Similarly, a woman might be less educated than a man because of monetary issues, but she could naturally be smarter and more intuitive. When parents had similar education levels, the numbers were not too far off from women having more of the “power.” I also question the study because at a certain threshold, when women have too much “power” over men, the enrollment of girls in school decreases. I wonder why this is the case. A mother denies her daughter education after the mother has that much more education than the father. Did the mother believe her education was a waste of time due to her current situation?
Toggle Commented Sep 24, 2014 on ECON 280 paper #1 at Jolly Green General
As many have already said, I am very surprised about the choices by those in poverty to purchase alcohol, tobacco, and entertainment in these countries when the body mass index of most of these people is below the cutoff for being underweight. Their poor food choice as well is startling because there are healthier options for less money and obviously better value. The amount of disease and sickness would lessen, but I’m not sure these people appreciate the relation. They already believe there are going to get really sick no matter what for a certain period of time every year because it has been so common for so long. Another area of concern has to be education. The teachers either do not show up or are not qualified. In my opinion, education is the most important part in improving a country’s economic development. It has affects on almost all other aspects of life. An improvement in the education systems would be an enormous step for some of these impoverished nations. One aspect of the report I found interesting was the vast difference in certain physical infrastructures of countries, while they all have decently similar percentages of citizens in poverty. 99% of those in the survey data in Mexico have electricity, while it’s only 1.3% in Tanzania. In some countries, up to 38% have tap water, while in several countries that number is below 5%. In Nicaragua, latrines are 100% available and that number is 0% in Udaipur, India. Yes, usually access to tap water and electricity is greater in urban areas. But, I wonder if there are other reasons for such a large gap in infrastructure.
Toggle Commented Sep 17, 2014 on 280 reading for Thursday at Jolly Green General
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Sep 17, 2014