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In "Women Empowerment and Economic Development", Esther Duflo outlines her view of the discussion on the relationship between female empowerment and development. Duflo makes many persuasive arguments throughout her paper, however, at the beginning I found one point concerning. She says the empowerment of women through policy action is unambiguously justified when there is development because of it. This concern was brought up in class and therefore jumped off the screen when read. This idea that women should be treated the same but only if it makes economic sense is an idea that should not be continued any longer than it already has. Continuing with the discussion of women's rights and empowerment later in the paper, Duflo explains part of the "missing women" issue with the high rates of infanticide and sex-selective abortion. The advertisement for a sex-selective clinic in Mumbai saying that it is "better to pay Rs 500 now than Rs 50,000 later," was especially horrifying. Part of this can be explained by culture norms that don't view women as the half of a healthy and productive economy that they can be. If women don't have opportunities in the work-force then they won't have as many rights. This is part of the link that Duflo helps to connect between development and empowerment. While Duflo ultimately finds the link between the two to be no "silver bullet" for solving either issue, she nevertheless admits there are positive coorelations. I would go further than she does and agree with Sen that freedom, and in this case women's freedom, is crucial to moving a society forward economically.
Toggle Commented Oct 19, 2018 on ECON 280 for Friday at Jolly Green General
In "The Fall and Rise of Development Theory", Krugman makes the argument that development theory was frowned upon and disregarded for thirty years because in many ways it didn't fit with the evolving economics of the 1950s. What Krugman calls "high development theory" is the idea that modernization breeds modernization and that weakness breads more weakness. This is not a complicated concept. When certain countries find all the crucial components for growth in place they can find themselves growing exponentially. On the other side, weakness follows a similarly sloping trend line, just in the opposite. This simple concept is explained by Rodan's Big Push ideology, which argues that it takes a coordinated big push forward for an economy to get on the right track towards a developed state. The problem with these simple concepts is that economists who were too focused on complicated equations and were more mathematically driven were unable to accept the conclusions of high development economists. Krugman goes on to criticize these economists but showing why it is acceptable to use models and shortcuts to make broad observations about the state of developing countries. I agree with his arguments here especially, in that there is no need to make economics an overcomplicated science. Economics can be so useful to policy makers and if they understand basic modeling, while understanding the limitations and assumptions made in the models, they can apply the science of economics in a powerful way.
Toggle Commented Sep 27, 2018 on ECON 280 for Friday at Jolly Green General
In "Institutional Barriers and World Income Disparities", Wang, Wong, and Yip lay out a clear explanation as to why certain countries have grown faster than others. They go through the importance of total factor productivities (TFPs) and how the countries that have stronger TFPs have more economic growth. While these are highly influential, as they can illustrate how a country is doing in growth across an entire economy, it is more important to focus on the results from the article about institutional barriers. They found that institutional barriers corresponded with economic growth, which is a conclusion that agrees with Sachs' point about the importance of good governance. Sachs argued that the Sustainable Development Goals require smart governance to make them happen. This focus on government policy relates to Sen's argument that freedom is the key to more freedom. The problems with institutional barriers were cited as unnecessary protectionism, government misallocation, corruption, and financial stability. I am unsurprised that these are the issues that seemed to matter the most to economic growth. Unnecessary protectionism is a violation of the freedom to trade and barter, something Sen goes into detail on. On the other hand, government misallocation, corruption, and financial stability are all issues that deal with the government not treating the people right. In high freedom societies, specifically democracies, the government is required to listen to the needs of the people. When it does, then the economy is encouraged to grow even more. For these reasons, it is easy to see that Sen and Wang, Wong, and Yip wrote complementary articles that help inform us more fully on policy going forward.
Toggle Commented Sep 20, 2018 on ECON 280 for Friday at Jolly Green General
The key part of Jeffrey Sachs' article is his discussion of the innovations found in the Sustainable Development Goals. While the Millennium Development Goals were, and still are important as a measure of successful development, they require a next step. The SDGs provided that next step by broadening the scope of what countries should focus on to achieve true development. A large part of the argument behind the SDGs is "[t]he urgency of the triple bottom line." Maintaining the balance between economic development, environmental sustainability, and social inclusion really is the challenge as the global population rises to nearly seven and a half billion. Sachs takes this rise in population and focuses on increasing environmental sustainability. I would agree with him to some extent, but am more concerned with the social inclusion goal. This goal attempts to address the problems found when not all actors in an economy are equal. In fact, if there was more economic equality, historically disenfranchised economic actors would have the ability to have a larger effect on environmental sustainability. I would argue that the people who care more about environmental sustainability are not the rich oil executives. If more young people with passion for protecting the environment and the ability to use technology could access their economies then one would see more more environmental sustainability and equality. I agree with Sachs when he argues for the importance of good governance and would add that this starts by increasing democratic principles. Political decisions need to be made by more people than just a few autocrats whose priorities are not based on what is good for the majority of people. Regardless of what specific changes need to happen across the globe, there is no doubt that all three of these goals are interconnected.
Toggle Commented Sep 13, 2018 on ECON 280 at Jolly Green General
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Sep 13, 2018