This is Stephen Moore's Typepad Profile.
Join Typepad and start following Stephen Moore's activity
Join Now!
Already a member? Sign In
Stephen Moore
Recent Activity
I found the World Bank article an interesting paper to conclude our class on development economics. We have touched on environmental issues throughout the various topic we have covered, and it is definitely a concerning issue. While I admit I do not have an extensive knowledge of the history of environmental policy, I believe environmental arguments hold more weight today they have in the past. This would mean that developing economies have one more hurdle to overcome. In regards to environmental concerns, developed nations were able to grow less concerned about their effect on the environment. While these concerns might appear a hurdle at first, they have important social benefits. A number of classmates have touched on the potential for innovation. This section of the article may not have addressed innovation specifically, but it does provide hope for developing economies moving forward. For example, the agroforestry article we looked at earlier in the semester illustrated the numerous benefits of environmental concern in developing economies. As environmental concern becomes a more prominent issue, I hope developing economies will grow with a smaller impact on the environment. The trick, though, will be how to incentivize such innovation moving forward.
Before this class I had very limited knowledge of the basics of micro finance and the goals it hopes to achieve. I thought the paper for Tuesday addressed key criticisms of the micro finance. There is no panacea for poverty, and I found it interesting critics of micro finance seemed to expect that. I was also intrigued to see that micro finance did not increase spending, but promoted better spending away from tobacco and alcohol. Although this is harder to quantify than increased spending, it is an important development. We talked in class how some larger banks have explored a little into micro finance, and it would be interesting to see if they would explore the field further. Though, because these larger banks are incredibly profit focused, I fear that it could turn into a way to exploit uninformed and struggling families. The nonprofits in place are great start and it will be interesting to see how they develop in the future. I am hopeful that micro finance could be an important aspect of development economics, but, like with most things, there are risks involved and it is not alone the cure to poverty.
I found Professor Casey's emphasis on the importance of investment in human capital particularly interesting. A recurring theme in this course has been the importance of education in development economics. As Professor Casey pointed out in his results section, farmers need to consider the risk in switching farming techniques. Increased education and knowledge about agroforestry is important to incentivizing farmers to adopting this beneficial farming technique. People often need strong incentives to change their current habits, and education and investment in human capital could definitely provide the means to begin that change. Higher educations increases farmers' confidence in the technique, which would allow more farmers to understand how to successfully make this change. We have discussed in class how investments in human capital lead to modernized states, but this article focuses on the positive externalities of education in the agricultural sector. In this case, education not only benefits the individual, but also illustrates the positive environmental effects.
Toggle Commented Nov 6, 2014 on Econ 280 for Thursday at Jolly Green General
I found the comments on "population quality" and how the value of human capital derives from the additional wellbeing people gain from it in the Schultz and Lewis article interesting. This piece also tied in well with our discussion from class on Tuesday. I found the connection the article makes between healthcare and education particularly interesting; longer lifespans incentivize more education. I have always thought about the connection as higher education encourages better healthcare, but the opposite story also makes sense. The section on education reminded me of a discussion on the marginal returns to education I had in a Labor Economics class at Washington and Lee; the marginal returns to education are significantly higher at the primary level than at later levels of education. For example, the marginal returns of learning to read are significantly higher than the marginal returns to learning calculus. I would be interested to what level of education, if any, citizens of developing countries choose to end their education. I would also be interested to see if is possible to measure the marginal return to education in developing countries compares to the United States. Would the skills we learn in the American school system contribute to a similar marginal rate of return in a developing country? I imagine skills, such as reading and basic arithmetic, would, but would a similar emphasis on subjects such as history and english experience the same marginal rate of return?
Toggle Commented Oct 29, 2014 on Econ 280 for Thursday at Jolly Green General
As many of my classmates noted, I found Udry's approach to the provocative issue of child labor laws a well thought out economic and social analysis. I found his analysis of how child labor is alleviated particularly interesting. In the United States, there was little enforcement of child labor laws in the agricultural sector. It was not until changes in technology, immigration, and the real wage occurred that child labor on American farms decreased. This relates back to the theme we have discussed in class the past few week about economic modeling versus economic policy. When a politician makes a speech about the negatives of child labor, most people would agree immediate action is necessary to alleviate the problem. The problem is the law alone does not alleviate the problem. These laws are difficult to enforce on a large scale, so if a farmer determines the marginal benefit to be greater than the marginal cost of employing a child (even with the risk of running into legal trouble), he will continue to employ children. While that is a simple example of the child labor issue, it shows that simply enacting policy will not solve a given problem. The paper also points out that child labor often occurs under extreme circumstances. For example, the more extreme poverty a household is in, the more likely they would be to employ their child and the child loses a chance to improve his human capital through education. Issues like this helps put the economic models I have worked on throughout my W&L career in context. Models give us a proper understanding of economic issues, but when we cannot hold the ceteris paribus condition in the real world, enacting policy becomes incredibly difficult. I do not mean to discount the importance of economic models and policy, but draw an important distinction between the two. Policy to eliminate child labor has many obvious benefits, but the issue lies in how to efficiently discourage such actions in a real world context.
Toggle Commented Oct 23, 2014 on 280 Paper for Thursday at Jolly Green General
Similar to many of my classmates, I also found Krugman's Africa metaphor interesting. As a social science, the economics needs to balance numerical examples and models with an understanding of human nature and intuition. While it can be difficult to model human nature, it is important these models are developed to increase our understanding of economics. I personally agree with the post-1970 emphasis on these models as the foundation for our understanding. Through the economics classes I have taken at Washington and Lee I understand economists prefer the simplest models they can generate while still illustrating a point. This is to illustrate ideas as simply as possible, but does lead to some limitations. Despite my support of models in economic theory, I cannot entirely discount that models do not capture every element of human nature. In many ways humans are irrational and cannot be perfectly predicted through a model. As Curtis said, though, models do not claim they can perfectly predict human economic nature. Every economic journal I have ever read has a section that directly states the limitations of that model and suggests areas for further discussion. The numerical aspect of economics gives us a scientific and concrete approach to understanding human economic nature, but these models will always have their limitations. This was one of the reasons I initially became interested in economics; because it requires one to understand models, but still respect the limitations of those models.
I found Andrew's points about education and power dynamic interesting. While I do believe there is a strong correlation between education and "power" in a relationship, there are several other constantly moving variables to consider. Personality traits and "street smarts" affect this dynamic. Also, there are different historical and cultural factors to consider. This ties back to the broader theme of development economics being an understanding of how people act as well as a science. These personality traits can be hard to model, so the emphasis on measuring education is understandable. Education can also understandably give someone the upper hand in a relationship. The difficulty in trying to measure a power dynamic provokes many new areas of research one might consider.
Toggle Commented Sep 24, 2014 on ECON 280 paper #1 at Jolly Green General
I found Banjeree and Duflo's conversation on the infrastructure of poor nations interesting. The availability of tap water, electricity, and basic sanitation varied across poor countries, but for the most part were more available to the urban poor more than the rural poor. It would make sense that these basic elements would play a key role in how countries develop. Health and sanitation can help improve mortality rates and standards of living, so how should governments be focusing on these infrastructure problems? As some of my classmates noticed, the state of education in poor countries also stood out to me in this article. Public schools in these areas are falling short of developed countries' standards. Although 93.4 percent of Indian children are enrolled in public schools, their basic math and reading skills are undeveloped. An investment in education now for developing countries could have many positive effects in the future. The problem, though, arises with how and when these changes will start. Improving education is certainly easier said than done, but could have a significant impact down the road.
Toggle Commented Sep 17, 2014 on 280 reading for Thursday at Jolly Green General
Stephen Moore is now following The Typepad Team
Sep 17, 2014