Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Last call for posts

OK class... here's a shot at some blogging credit.

What topics did you think were the most interesting? The least? Why?

Was there a topic that you wish we had spent more time on? Less? Why?

How do you feel about the study of the economics of growth and development? Hard? Easy? Confusing?

Of all the topics we covered this term, which do you feel deserves more (or less) attention in terms of the public's general knowledge?


  1. Although not the chief points among the ideas presented in the course, I really liked the historical asides. I have to admit that I was among the set of folks that knew very little of the Great Leap Forward, the Marshall Plan, or the founding of the UN - beyond some basic details. Perhaps this argues for a return of the History of Economic Thought course, more than a change in 429, however.

    As for the next few questions, no complaints. In terms of more or less attention on specific areas, I would remain flexible. There are trends in both actual G&D policies as well as the thinking behind them. I would remain flexible so that more attention could be paid to those areas of the course that either underscore or debunk the policies and ideas that are currently grabbing the headlines. I think we did this to some extent with the MDGs and events now being called "Arab Dawn", but more would have been fine with me.

  2. I really enjoyed discussing The Bottom Billion in class. I liked how the topics we covered in the class earlier in the semester built upon each other. By the time we discussed The Bottom Billion I felt like I was well prepared for it and could follow it well. If we had covered Paul Collier early in the semester, I don't think I would have gotten as much out of it.

    I also thought that foreign aid and resource curse were really interesting to talk about in class. I thought that growth and development was pretty fascinating overall. It wasn't confusing, but I don't think it is a class I could miss often and still understand because we covered a lot of information.

    In terms of what deserves more public attention, I thought it was pretty amazing that foreign aid to bottom billion nations had no correlation to growth. I think if more people knew this, maybe more emphasis would be put on cutting trade barriers or finding other ways to help these nations grow rather than throwing money at them.

  3. I thought that the Sustainable Development topic, population growth stuff (Malthus) and Collier were are all really interesting, while the Millennium Development goals weren't all too exciting and a tad depressing because it looks like we aren't even going to reach any of them.

    I do wish we had spent more time on SD because its an issue that hits close to home and is a touchy sort of area in today's political climate-would be interesting to know how the BB is affected. Overall, 429 wasn't confusing at all-actually quite the opposite. It opened my eyes to many issues that I had no clue about especially Collier's research.

    Going along with Mike, the public does need to be aware of where their foreign aid dollars are going, and how to re-direct them effectively and efficiently so that the BB esp. landlocked with bad neighbors can grow and develop.

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  5. This class reminded me why I chose to concentrate in Economics. I was once again convinced that there is more to the concept of money than simply ledger accounts and interest rates. I truly believe the study of Economics isn’t solely based on the sector of society that creates wealth; I think of it as more of a study of life cycles and the intricate “domino effect” that results from our aggregate decisions. This study is overlooked by too many and over-analyzed by others… but it really does help to define the infinite processes of reality.

    Each of the topics were interesting in that I felt that I have been waiting for YEARS to take a course that discussed these important global issues. However, my favorite part of 429 had to be the way the information was provided for me. The approach that Dr. Schuhmann took with each following topic allowed me to create my own opinions and thoughts from the material… much unlike the biased lecturing most professors use to teach their craft. Instead of showing us PowerPoint presentations that he had created… he used GREAT sources to enlighten and enhance our learning (i.e., online course blog, an actual recording of the Marshall Plan, Paul Collier’s ‘The Bottom Billion’). I have never before had a book like Collier’s that paralleled the information we discussed in class each day. I felt that his implementation was crucial to my learning success and I am glad that I read the book early in the semester as I felt Schuhmann touched on his work during each lecture.

    Shameful honesty: My least favorite topic had to be the “people are getting bigger” concept… only because I am a short guy myself and this concept to me is EXACTLY TRUE. (No offense taken, I laughed a lot during this lecture) I know from this topic I will make my children eat their vegetables and everything else I feed them because that is what does make bigger, stronger, healthier individuals. The fact that a nation’s average height can increase by a few inches within a century is almost scary… does this pose a new question for the topic of overpopulation?(how many BIG people can we sustain in the future if size averages continue to grow?)

    Personally, I feel the study of Economic Growth and Development will always be a mass of confusion and questions because the cause-and-effect relationships being examined are intricately reciprocal. Who knows how much a true increase in health determines a subsequent increase in economic growth? However, I know that defining the parameters that help to measure these changes is the art of economics and is why I am SO happy that I took advantage of another great course at UNCW. This should be required by all Econ majors so that they know there is more to know than Supply and Demand.

  6. Nick said: "The fact that a nation’s average height can increase by a few inches within a century is almost scary… does this pose a new question for the topic of overpopulation?(how many BIG people can we sustain in the future if size averages continue to grow?)"

    Such a good question. I'm imagining the economic impact of having to have all ceilings raised up, not to mention basketball hoops.

    I wonder if height works like population growth in the sense we discussed in class? (By analogy, if I told you that I drove home at 55 miles per hour, would you conclude that I crashed into my house?) Also interesting to consider - could it be that height and population growth are substitutes? I don't know - but overall a good question you raise in my opinion.

  7. I thought the topic of how “well-being” was perceived was very interesting. It was enjoyable to learn the different factors that contribute towards it and this was exemplified by your stories from the Caribbean and their way of life.

    The topics that were least interesting for me were the Solow growth model and the Cobb-Douglas production function. I understand how these topics are essential when talking about inequality and growth however I was already doing a lot of work on these subjects in other economic classes so I would have liked less time to be consumed by these topics.

    I found the study of economic growth and development very logical. I liked the fact that you could explain a problem by using examples and detailing how things developed over time. It was nice to see that the study of economics is more than a set of graphs and models based on supply/demand.

    I definitely agree with the comments that have been made above regarding AID. I think it is essential that the public become more aware of how much AID is wasted through corruption or other means. The public need to be educated on how we can help countries that are struggling more efficiently and effectively.

  8. This class has lived up to my expectations in every way. I can honestly say that there hasn't been a single topic we covered in class that I didn't find interesting. Okay so maybe the portion on the Solow Growth model wasn't the most fun, but you have to lay the ground work for the class somehow. I took intermediate macro at the same time and it was good getting to see how the Solow model actually worked in growth and developmental.

    The one topic I wish we had spent more time discussing was The Traps and Instruments of Help that Collier talks about in the Bottom Billion. We didn't get enough time at the end of the semester to really go over it in detail. I especially wish we could've talked about the military intervention aspect of instruments.

    Like most things in economics growth and developmental can be confusing at times because of the intricacies involved with all of the aspects that go into developing a country.

    The one thing I wish people would become more aware of is the inefficiency of foreign aid. I think everyone who has said the same thing on the blog came to the same realization I did during the class. Americans are so gullible. Most think increasing foreign aid will increase the well-being of worse-off countries. If they were educated on the topic they would realize it is much, much more complicated than that.