• blog highlights •
Law and the Poor - The Economist summarizes a new World Bank/University of Texas paper that analyses the impact of legal systems on inequality in five countries. Differentiating between types of courts, the authors find that areas of judicial decision-making with broader applicability tend to avoid anti-poor biases, whereas “areas dominated by individual litigation and individualized effects are less likely to have pro-poor outcomes.” By countries, the law is strongly pro-poor in India and South Africa, roughly neutral in Brazil and Indonesia, and strongly anti-poor in Nigeria. The Authors blog about their findings here. [h/t Swati Mishra via Duncan Green]
Combat Illegal Fishing - The guardian promotes some recommendations from Greenpeace and the Environmental Justice Foundation, on how to protect the fishing grounds of West Africa. In sum, 1) Stop the use of flags of convenience which help vessels avoid detection and penalties. 2) End EU subsidies fishing 3) Press for international measures to combat illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing. 4) Support Help developing countries coastguards and navies. 5) Reduce the size of foreign fleets. 6) Set up large-scale marine reserves. 7) Insist foreign trawlers land a percentage of their fish in the country whose waters they fish. Several of these are daft, and based on speculative data, but IUU fishing is on the agenda with other natural resources such as minerals, timber and oil, just way way down the list.
Why Authors Fail - Francis Fukuyama reviews Acemoglu and Robinson’s (AR) Why Nations Fail. While highlighting and appreciating the broad insights of the book (1. that institutions matter for economic growth, and 2. that institutions are what they are because of the interests of powerful political), he remains disappointed at the failure to break-open some of the generalised concepts uses. AR’s thesis revolves around categories of ‘inclusive’/’extractive’ and ‘absolutist’/’pluralistic’ institution without really defining what this means. This allows the authors to shoe-horn in many institutional features under these umbrellas despite research and history which point to often conflicting interactions. AR are also criticised for playing fast-and-loose with history, and Fukuyama pick up on a misrepresented Rome and Glorious Revolution as well as an unexplained contemporary China. Finally, “One only wishes then that the authors had made better use of basic categories long in play in other parts of the social sciences (state, rule of law, patrimonialism, clientelism, democracy, and the like) instead of inventing neologisms that obscure more than they reveal.”
Delivering Resource Rents – A recent post on the new Governance and Development Blog from the IDS by Mick Moore suggest utilising multiple channels for giving away resource revenues as a way to avoid the ‘the resource curse’. The channels on offer include central government, local government and individuals (e.g. Alaska, Norway, Iran). I wouldn’t in principle disagree with this, but as well as concern for how resource gains are managed/delivered, it is also necessary to consider the innate effect of such rents to distort incentive and accountability – whether at the central local or personal/psychological levels.
Results in Aid – Owen Barder outlines his ‘Seven worries about focusing on results, and how to manage them’. The worries are summarised as follows: 1 Bureaucratic overload 2 Bias toward short-term quantifiable result 3 Reduced receptiveness to recipient priorities 4 Numeric indicators can ignore equity 5 Perverse incentives to neglect quality 6 inhibiting partnerships 7 Ignoring counterfactual outcomes. There are also reasons why the results agenda is important likewise summerised as: 1 The public must be convinced of development’s worth 2 We have a duty to maximize impact 3 Results can help to improve aid delivery 4 Monitoring can be part of learning and leading development initiatives. His resulting manifesto includes calls to: Reduce bureaucracy, Remain strategic and Increase rigour while remaining proportionate.
Value of Privacy – Several interesting findings from a new study on the value of privacy including; about 50% of people value their privacy (knowledge of their mobile phone numbers or email address for marketing purposes) at less than 31p. However, there are gains to being privacy friendly, and without cost-differences, and privacy friendly e-shop can boost their market share (by approx. 12-33%). Finally, people are significantly more sensitive to the use of their phone numbers than email addresses.
• hungry for more? •
- Do low tax rates among the ‘so-called productive segments of society’ benefit economic growth? -Filip Spagnoli at the National Bank of Belgium says ‘No’.
- Swaziland looks to crack down on facebook and twitter, Evan Lieberman doubts they have the capacity to do so.
• videos from the week •
Greek town develops alternative local currency, and the BBC doesn’t seem to understand what a bartering system is. Here