100 indicators of well-being or just one? Stiglitz v Layard

November 2, 2009

Can the law advance education and healthcare in poor countries?

November 2, 2009

Aid, growth and love; North Korea; people power; sleepless physicists; Afghan fudge and a warmer world map: links I liked

November 2, 2009
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Owen Barder reports on a new paper that finds that on average, aid promotes economic growth. I share Owen’s doubts about the fixation with regressions, but it’s worth noting that the anti-aid battalions don’t own the maths.

Talking of aid sceptics, Bill Easterly asks if aid is more like science or falling in love

The Economist has a harrowing report on the human rights situation in North Korea

On the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin wall etc, Adam Roberts discusses the rise of ‘people power’ and the importance of choosing your moment

What keeps physicists up at night? Seven mind bending suggestions from a recent conference, recorded by New Scientist. Warning, do not read this if you are under the influence of alcohol (or anything else).

Matthew Hoh annihilates the rationale for the West’s Afghanistan policy and he should know – until he resigned on 10 September, he was the US State Department’s Senior Civilian Representative for Zabul Province in that country. Full resignation letter here, juicy bits extracted by Alex Evans here

And the British Science Museum presents an interactive map of what a 4 4 degreesdegree world would look like, drawn up by experts at the meteorological office. Grim.

3 comments

  1. Thanks for sharing these various links. I thought the link to Owen Barder’s post on the new research demonstrating aid effectiveness in improving economic growth was an interesting complement to your earlier posts on the OECD conference and the discussion of measuring well-being via GDP. While happiness with one’s quality of life is comprised of numerous factors, it is hard to ignore the importance of income in providing for our basic needs. Combining the argument of the cited report with the messages from the OECD conference, it seems that more aid should be designated to help countries improve their national economic system. I wonder though if there is a limit to the amount of happiness/satisfaction aid monies can really incur if the monies don’t foster independence and self-sufficiency.

    Which brings me to another point re: Matthew Hoh’s resignation letter. That letter is quite damning, but raises significant issues regarding our role (the West) in rebuilding failing states. The United States is currently pouring billions of dollars into Afghanistan to support “peace-building” and reconstruction. But as Hoh points out, the majority of the country view the Afghan government as illegitimate and incapable of providing for the people. Aid money is being wasted or recycled back to foreign corporations. In this case, while aid is raising the country’s overall GDP, it has yet to really translate into an improvement in the quality of life of the majority of Afghans. I would argue that Afghanistan allows us to see the impact of foreign aid on national identity and self-determination which I think are equally important to sense of well-being as income.

  2. Owen Barder stated that” Aid promotes economic Growth” and I found it harder to agree with that statement. It is true that Aid prevents disaster in the developping countries but it is hard to believe on Owen’s. The Aid only reaches certain sectors and it is mostly favors the one in power.

  3. Compared to the North Korea’s nuclear program that often hits the headline, the human rights in the country seems become a sideline story. It’s really depressed to read the report about the human rights in North Korea. Because of being extremely isolated from the rest of the world, few people exactly know the status quo of the livelihood of North Koreans. Even globalization fails to integrate the country into its orbit. Western media lambastes the human rights in North Korea, while the country accuses western media of deliberately attempting to subvert the regime. I think in addition to the removal of nuke to guarantee the regional security, attention should also be given to locals in the country. Therefore, international community should have a more comprehensive plan that not only covers the nuclear issue, but also include how North Korea uses international aid and how to improve the human rights.

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