Everyone knows that correlation doesn't imply causation
, but researchers invariably need to come up with plausible explanations (i.e., models) for the patterns found in their data. However, very different models can "explain" the same pattern. The books The Bottom Billion: Why the Poorest Countries are Failing and What Can Be Done About It
and Wars, Guns and Votes: Democracy in Dangerous Places
by Oxford economist Paul Collier
try to explain why some countries have remained poor using data from econometric studies. In his very interesting review
(PDF), Mike McGovern
, a political anthropologist at Yale, critiques the types of explanations found in popular economics books. Statistician Andrew Gelman has further thoughts on descriptive statistics, causal inference, and story time
posted by Jasper Friendly Bear
on Jul 13, 2011 -
Why Not a Negative Income Tax?
"What kind of program could help protect every citizen from destitution without granting excessive power to bureaucrats, creating disincentives to work, and clogging up the free-market economy, as the modern welfare state has done? [Nobel-prize winning economist Milton] Friedman’s answer was the negative income tax, or NIT."
posted by shivohum
on Mar 14, 2011 -
"In a test
of the American Dream, Adam Shepard started life from scratch with the clothes on his back and twenty-five dollars. Ten months later, he had an apartment, a car, and a small savings." Introduction
to the book which arose from his "journey", which was inspired by Barbara Ehrenreich
. [more inside]
posted by Rumple
on Feb 15, 2008 -
The Happy Planet Index
presents an alternative to GDP for measuring standard of living. It ranks countries by measuring life expectancy and self-reported life satisfaction against an "ecological footprint" needed to support that country's lifestyle. The press release
claims that well-being is not based on high levels of consumption, but many don't agree
. Full report in PDF here
. Vanuatu tops the charts, while Zimbabwe and Swaziland lie at bottom. Critiques here
, and here
. A critique of happiness indices generally here.
posted by shivohum
on Jun 3, 2007 -
Clean water is a right:
"The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) published its annual report on human development
. It denounces the world's complacent disregard for such unglamorous subjects as standpipes, latrines and the 1.8m children who die each year from diarrhoea because the authorities cannot keep their drinking water separate from their faeces. The study
is both coldly analytical and angry..."
posted by kliuless
on Nov 24, 2006 -
I was wrong. Free market trade policies hurt the poor.
“As leader of the delegation from the United Kingdom [to Seattle in 1999], I was convinced that the expansion of world trade had the potential to bring major benefits to developing countries and would be one of the key means by which world poverty would be tackled... I now believe that this approach is wrong and misguided.”
posted by raaka
on May 19, 2003 -
US income distribution moves towards 3rd world profile?
- US Census Bureau
data on growing family income inequality, 1947 to 2001. Also see: The
(for a graphic depiction of current US wealth distribution).
"The most egalitarian countries have a Gini index in the 20s. European
countries like Germany, Austria, Belgium, Hungary, Poland, Norway, and Sweden all fall in that
range, according to World Bank figures. Canada and Australia are just over 30. The United States
is around 40...Once inequality reaches 50 percent, disparities become glaringly obvious, to the
point where they undermine a society's sense of unity and common purpose....Sierra Leone takes
the prize. At 63 percent, it offers the world's most extreme example of inequality."
By multiple measures, income
in the US is rapidly increasing, and a substantial percentage of middle class Americans may be gradually sliding into poverty.
posted by troutfishing
on Jan 15, 2003 -
: the first in a New York Times
series on class in the United States. Princeton economics professor Paul Krugman declares the death of the middle class, pointing out disparities between the rich and the poor, examining efforts to cover up class makeup with quantile data, and probing the transformation of corporate executive ethics and influence. Even Glenn Reynolds
is taken to task for his Sweden-Mississippi per capita GDP comparison. Krugman's sources
are on the slim side, but the question must be asked: Are we living in a new Gilded Age? And, if so, how can citizens and government work to change things?
posted by ed
on Oct 20, 2002 -
"The knowledge of the poor is being converted into the property of global corporations, creating a situation where the poor will have to pay for the seeds and medicines they have evolved and have used to meet their own needs for nutrition and health care." -- Vandana Shiva lectures on globalization and poverty
posted by sudama
on Sep 11, 2000 -