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30 Years of economics for development

WIDERAngle August 2014

From the Editor’s Desk

Tony Addison

Some of you in the northern hemisphere may still be on your well-earned summer breaks. Here at UNU-WIDER we had a pause in July—for a very warm Finnish summer—after our very successful June conference in Hanoi. It is now full speed ahead for our conference on ‘Inequality: Measurement, Trends, Impacts and Policies’, 5-6 September. We expect a record turnout: over 300 will gather in Helsinki to debate all aspects of social inequality—and its causes and consequences. Full article

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Varying growth trajectories of the West and the South: The role of Inequality and Institutions

Vladimir Popov

Modern economic growth started in the West, not because of the efficiency of various capitalist institutions (elimination of serfdom, free cities, universities). It was the redistribution of wealth and income (enclosure in Britain) that resulted in an increase in savings and investment, allowing for an acceleration of productivity growth. It was not an abundance of competition or entrepreneurship, or ideas for technological innovations that allowed the West to accelerate productivity growth. Instead, it was first and foremost the abundance of savings and investment that resulted from growing income inequalities that allowed an increase in the capital/labour ratio, and cast in iron the ideas for new products and technologies. To put it differently, the West became rich not due to its inventiveness and entrepreneurial spirit, but due to the merciless dismantling of peasant community that previously provided social guarantees to the poorest. ​ Full article

Inequality in focus at UNU-WIDER

Jukka Pirttilä and Tony Addison

The last few months have seen major research activity in the area of inequality at UNU-WIDER. An update of the World Income Inequality Database (WIID) was first published in June. This is the most comprehensive database on inequality currently available. Considerable and meticulous work has been done on checking all the data points over the last year or so. And at the start of September our WIDER Development Conference is devoted to the topic of inequality. One of the key topics to be discussed at the conference is data. What kind of datasets are available for cross-country comparisons of inequality? What should one keep in mind when using such datasets? And what do these data reveal about the extent and changes in income inequality? Full article

How the world works: jobs and structural transformation as keys to development

Roger Williamson

The themes of the new UNU-WIDER work programme—transformation, inclusion, and sustainability—were the focus of the UNU-WIDER Development Conference held in Vietnam in June this year. Each represents a formidable challenge. Taken together, they seem an almost impossible set of conundrums for development. How to transform economies so that labour is employed in productive and fulfilling jobs? How to ensure an inclusive economy that works for the many and not just for the few? How to ensure that sustainability is achieved? Not just that the economy runs without recession and massive dislocation, but that it is also environmentally viable in the long term? This is particularly crucial as the impacts of climate change become more pressing. Full article

RESEARCHAngle

The impact of civic education programmes on political participation

​Civic education programmes have proliferated as a means of democracy promotion through aid over the past three decades. Donors from a majority of OECD countries, as well as multilateral organizations such as UNDP and the World Bank, have devoted resources to these programmes in order to foster democratic values and behaviours among ordinary individuals in emerging democracies. Many of these programmes consist of individual NGOs providing information to voters related to national or local elections, but an increasing number encompass issues such as constitutional reform, political decentralization, alternative dispute resolution, and the rights of women, minorities, and other marginalized groups. What has been the impact of these interventions? Full article

What matters for learning in East Africa?

Improving the quality of schooling in low-income countries is a critical challenge facing the development community. Although education has been receiving increasing attention since the early 1990s, there is still a need for more rigorous research on the impacts of education reforms. Substantial research has been conducted on the effects of a reduction in class size on skills acquisition; comparatively less research has focused on the role of peer effects, or class composition, on student performance. Understanding the impacts of both class size and peer effect is crucial to understanding vital education issues in East Africa. ​​Full article

VIDEOAngle

New structural economics – an interview with Justin Lin

Roger Williamson

In this interview Justin Lin, Non-resident Senior Research Fellow at UNU-WIDER, talks about how the state can enable the process of structural transformation of the economy, how to fund the necessary investments of this transformation, structuralism versus new structuralism, how countries can use their true comparative advantage to develop, and much more. Full interview

WIDERAngle newsletter
August 2014
ISSN 1238-9544

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