Showing posts from 2018

Want Less Poverty in the World? Empower Women

Sean Illing of Vox (an American news and opinion website owned by Vox Media) interviews Augusto Lopez-Claros, November 5, 2018. The single greatest antidote to poverty and social stagnation is the emancipation of women. Wherever this has been tried, wherever women have been empowered to do as they wish, the economy and the culture have been radically improved. A new book by Augusto Lopez-Claros, a senior fellow at the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University, and Bahiyyih Nakhjavani, an Iranian writer and novelist, is among the first to comprehensively test this proposition by surveying data from 189 countries. Titled Equality for Women = Prosperity for All , the book shows how gender inequalities - in education, income, law, employment, and wages - lead to instability and chaos at almost every level of society. I called Lopez-Claros to talk about the links between gender inequality and political instability, how discriminatory laws hold women back, and what

Truth limps while falsehood flies

We live in an age in which truth and falsehood sometimes appear indistinguishable and can be disseminated with the speed of light. [1] They can also be amplified a million-fold in the global echo chamber created by the Internet and the use of social media. This is at once a blessing and a curse: a blessing when the information flow carries with it knowledge with the capacity to improve people’s lives, uplift human spirits, convey truth and beauty; a curse when it is used to spread falsehoods, to fan hate and division, or to engage in personal vendettas. Depending on which of these tendencies prevails, we will either live in a world of facts where governments, the business community, and civil society might interact with each other on the basis of an agreed body of knowledge and truth.   Or we will slide into a world of fiction, an alternative reality of make-believe, where information technologies are misused for nefarious ends, whether to boost the repressive inclinations

Is there a spiritual dimension to economic development?

A friend of mine at the World Bank recently forwarded news of a seminar held at the IMF under the title of “Enlightening Economics.” I was not able to attend but saw the Powerpoint presentation and was much encouraged by its contents. It reminded me of a time, perhaps starting sometime in the late 1980s when there was a tangible shift in the development community to recognizing the importance of what Amartya Sen called “soft-headed” concerns, such as the role of safety nets to protect the very poor, issues of equity and income distribution, gender equality and, of course, the environment. While at the IMF we continued to recognize the importance of macroeconomic stability for economic growth we could also sense a growing awareness that it was necessary to create the conditions for so-called “high quality growth,” a term that, at least in theory, explicitly recognized the importance of policies aimed at reducing poverty, improving opportunity, and protecting the environment.