From the Editor's Desk (March 2014)

26 March 2014

Tony Addison​

Looking over recent UNU-WIDER publications, I am struck by the diversity of topics and countries that we have managed to cover. Our new output includes Andrea Cornia’s book Falling Inequality in Latin America: Policy Changes and Lessons (Oxford University Press for UNU-WIDER); the Open Access special issue of the Review of Income and Wealth, on ‘Poverty, Development, and Behavioral Economics’, edited by Markus Jäntti, Ravi Kanbur, and Jukka Pirttilä; and many papers including Rachel Gisselquist on ethnic politics (in Nationalism and Ethnic Politics) and Katarina Juselius, Niels Framroze Møller, and Finn Tarp on aid’s long-run impact in Africa (in the Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics), to mention just a few. 

This range of interesting research is one reason why UNU-WIDER is such a stimulating place to work in, and to visit—whether through our visiting scholar and PhD internship programmes, or via our conferences and project meetings. One learns something every day—at least I do. 

Turning to this March issue of Angle, we begin with an article by Finn Tarp, UNU-WIDER’s Director, on whether aid makes economic sense. Many folk doubt the economic return on aid. Finn’s piece might help change a few minds. The research comes from our ReCom programme–research and communication on foreign aid. Talking of ReCom, we have worked hard over the last month to produce a paper summarizing the lessons of ReCom for the role of aid post-2015, and the now very active debate going on in the UN and elsewhere. You can find the piece here.  

The second piece is by myself; some reflections from a recent meeting of Nordic donors on development co-operation. The event, moderated by Finn Tarp, asked some useful questions about the post-2015 development agenda, and led me to think about the potential Nordic role some more, as the Nordic region has in many ways a distinctive economic model that has also been highly inclusive.  

GUESTAngle this month has a focus on inclusive growth in Africa by Roger Williamson of the Institute of Development Studies at Sussex University. Roger’s article discusses some of the outcomes from our 2013 Inclusive Growth in Africa conference. Inclusive growth, and its link to structural transformation in Africa, will remain a big theme for us in the new UNU-WIDER work programme. 

This month’s VIDEOAngle is an interview with Jukka Pirttilä by Carl-Gustav Linden. Jukka is a new Finnish colleague at UNU-WIDER, and is on leave from the University of Tampere, where he is a professor of economics. 

As we complete the first quarter of 2014 (this year is going so fast) UNU-WIDER has over 60 working papers already under its belt—since January. Recent papers include the following sample: aid and Africa’s environment (by Edwin Muchapondwa); the economics of happiness and anger in North Africa (by Nadereh Chamlou); Bolsa Familia’s impact in Brazil (by Nadia von Jacobi); the impact of democratization on growth in Africa (by Takaaki Masaki and Nicolas van de Walle); China–Africa co-operation in structural transformation (by Justin Yifu Lin and Yan Wang); capitalism and business culture in Africa (by Scott D. Taylor); and social service delivery and access to financial services in Mexico (by Serena Masino and Miguel Niño-Zarazúa). There are many more, and they are all free for you to download here.

You will note a big Africa component in our research, and this is being re-emphasized in our new work programme. I can still commend to you the Oxford University Press book edited by Danielle Resnick and Nicolas van de Walle, Democratic Trajectories in Africa: Unravelling the Impact of Foreign Aid, an edited collection from UNU-WIDER’s ReCom research on democratization, that we conducted over 2011-13. You will find many more insights into the politics (and economics) of Africa on our ReCom website.

Here in Helsinki, the sun shines for one day, and everyone talks of spring. Then it snows again. But spring is surely coming our way. You can be sure that Angle will be back in April with more information and views from UNU-WIDER and its team. 

Tony Addison is Chief Economist-Deputy Director, UNU-WIDER.​

WIDERAngle newsletter
March 2014
ISSN 1238-9544