Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Global Health Check

On the topic of world health, check out this interactive tool created by Beyond Words Studio for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Mosaic

Enter your year of birth (or any year in the past) and see the progress that has been made in terms of health outcomes and health inputs.


Here is a cool story about microloans at

It looks like the benefits of microloans have been overstated through the years, but the news is not all bad.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Education, human capital and economic growth

Here is a short article by Brian Francis (Lecturer in Economics at UWI Cave Hill) that appeared in today's Nation News (Barbados). Francis discusses the importance of education in affecting economic growth and development during that latter stages of a nation's economic evolution. Notice that his description fits nicely into the framework of the Solow model.

There is an important back story here. The government of Barbados recently implemented a significant cut to student subsidies, which resulted in a dramatic decrease in enrollments at the University of the West Indies. The purpose of the cuts was to save money. Transfers from the Barbados government to UWI decreased by approximately US $21 million per year as a result of the cuts. 

How (and when) could we figure out if this policy resulted in net gains? 

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Stiglitz on inequality (and other stuff)

We can't talk about inequality without talking about Joseph Stiglitz.

Stiglitz is a Professor of Economics at Columbia University.  He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics in 2001 for his work on asymmetric information in markets and the John Bates Clark Medal from the American Economic Association in 1979. Stiglitz served as senior vice president and chief economist of the World Bank and was the chairman of the US president's Council of Economic Advisers during the Clinton Administration.

Stiglitz is a harsh critic of the use of GDP as a measure of economic well being. Here is a short article on this topic at The Guardian.  For those of you that like to outsource your reading, here is a YouTube video.

Stiglitz also writes quite a lot about the effects of inequality on growth.
Here is an interview at Rolling Stone.
Here is a book review at the NYT

Here is a long article with lots of good economics at Vanity Fair

Here is a video of his TED Talk on inequality 

Monday, September 12, 2016

Sachs: "Sustainable development ... conveys a new and better approach to national problem solving"

Here is a link to an article in today's Boston Globe by Jeffrey Sachs.

The main points Sachs makes pertain to our ability to shape our economic future through investment in the pillars of development (education, health, social fairness, environmental quality). He highlights the UN SDG's and covers a lot of interesting ground with regard to contemporary economic fears.  I like that Sachs notes that economic growth and environmental protection are mutually supportive rather than mutually exclusive as is often argued. The follow-up articles should be interesting. Please help me keep an eye out for them.

Monday, August 22, 2016

The world is getting better

There is a lot of doom and gloom these days. Opinion polls tend to show that most people think the world is falling apart. In our class we'll talk a lot about poverty, inequality and the plight of the poorest of the world's poor. Much of this will be depressing. It's important therefore to be mindful of the major progress that has been made in the recent past.

Here is a short piece from Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times highlighting some of the progress the world has made in terms of reducing poverty, disease and illiteracy.  Be sure to check out the link to the UN's new Sustainable Development Goals and also check out the progress that was made on the last set of goals (the Millennium Development Goals).