Archive for the ‘International’ Category

On Monday, Elinor Ostrom became the first woman to win the Nobel Prize in Economics.  The official Nobel press release is viewable here.  Forbes has two excellent articles on Elinor Ostrom’s impact on the world:

  • Why Elinor Ostrom Matters – This article reflects on applications of her studies in cooperative arrangements, also known as “The Commons.”
  • Elinor Ostrom and the Digital Commons – This article observes Elinor Ostrom’s work in relation to internet communities, the open-access movement, digital repositories, and Net Neutrality.

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The Women’s Crusade is a featured article in a New York Times Magazine special issue published on August 17th.  The article discusses how microfinance and education aid to women are helping the cause of empowering women across the globe, fighting global poverty, and giving donors more of a return on their investment.  
If you enjoy this article, the main author also has a New York Times blog on globalization and human rights called On the Ground.

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Thanks to Jeff, a SOM library student worker, for reminding me about the United Nations’ great website, WomenWatch.  The site acts as a clearinghouse for all subjects related to women in the world, from news to research to events.  You could spend the day looking at all of information they have, there’s just so much of it.  Examples are the Women2000 and Beyond report, a series publication that addresses world gender issues that aren’t at the forefront.  Their most recent report, in honor of International Day of Rural Women (October 15th) focused on:

the situation of rural women and the full diversity of their experiences in the context of the changing rural economy, including their position within households, community and economic structures; the gender division of labour; their access to and control over resources; and their participation in decision-making. It focuses specifically on the situation of rural women in developing countries. This publication aims to highlight women’s contributions to the social, economic and political aspects of rural development and raise critical issues for improving the situation of rural women.

These publications are fascinating and freely available online.  Other examples of the breadth of WomenWatch are the topics they cover:  Women and the Economy; Women in Power and Decision Making; Women and Armed Conflict; Women and the Media; and many others.

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The United Nations, International Labour Organization, and Cornell University’s ILR school have collaborated on “Green Jobs: Toward Sustainable Work in a Low-Carbon World”, which was released today. It’s billed as “the first comprehensive study of the ‘green economy’ and its impact on the work world” and features some interesting findings, as well as taking the argument beyond going “green” for the environment’s sake and using this as a platform to address economic inequalities. From Cornell’s press release:

Optimistic findings in the report include:

  • green jobs could grow by the millions by 2040
  • billions are being spent this decade to retrofit buildings, creating jobs
  • “clean tech” investment shot up 60 percent from 2006 to 2007, to $148 billion
  • renewable energy jobs – now at 2.3 million — are expanding rapidly

Formidable challenges to advancing the green economy are also cited:

  • only a tiny portion of work worldwide can be described as green
  • many “green jobs” may be “dirty, dangerous and difficult”
  • energy research spending is down for government and the private sector
  • green employment does not have a foothold in most developing countries, home to 80 percent of the world’s workers.

The report goes on to state:

There is nothing intrinsically fair or just about either the process of becoming green or the end result . . . . The issue is not simply about the transition itself, but what follows the transition – the goal being a new mode of production and consumption that allows for greater social inclusion, equity, and opportunity.

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The New York Times has a really great series of graphic representations, showing what countries spend their discretionary income on. You can see the graphs here, and the accompanying article here.

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The World Bank recently released a report, “The developing world is poorer than we thought, but no less successful in the fight against poverty”, saying that new economic figures show a larger amount of people in poverty than previously thought, but progress is being made against the dilemma. From the news release:

In a new paper, “The developing world is poorer than we thought but no less successful in the fight against poverty,” Martin Ravallion and Shaohua Chen revise estimates of poverty since 1981, finding that 1.4 billion people (one in four) in the developing world were living below US$1.25 a day in 2005, down from 1.9 billion (one in two) in 1981.

An earlier estimate—of 985 million people living below the former international US$1 a day poverty line in 2004 —was based on the (then) best available cost of living data from 1993. The old data also indicated about 1.5 billion in poverty in 1981. However, the new and far better ICP data on prices in developing countries reveal that these estimates were too low.

In the States, the Bureau of Labor Statistics has produced a survey, “A Profile of the Working Poor, 2006”, which details the unseen and highly unfortunate side of poverty.

In 2006, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, 36.5 million people, or 12.3 percent of the population, lived at or below the official poverty threshold, roughly the same number as in 2005. The majority of the Nation’s poor were children and adults who had not participated in the labor force during the year. However, 7.4 million were among the working poor — those who spent 27 weeks or more in the labor force, working or looking for work, but whose incomes still fell below the official poverty level. These individuals represented 5.1 percent of all persons aged 16 years and older who were in the labor force for 27 weeks or more in 2006, down from 5.4 percent the previous year.

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In this week’s issue of Time, Bill Gates has written a piece arguing for the mainstreaming of creative capitalism.  Since his introduction of the idea at the World Economic Forum in Davos earlier this year (see the YouTube video here) Gates has been strengthening his case for creative capitalism, which is an effort to focus the attention of businesses on problems facing the billions of humans suffering from poverty and helping to alleviate them.  Gates’ Time article draws two methods of getting companies to sign on to a creative capitalist agenda:

  1. That “the poorest two-thirds of the world’s population has some $5 trillion in purchasing power.”  Companies can benefit financially from serving this population, and have done so.  Examples of these are Safaricom, a cell phone company in Kenya that charges by the second so that it’s an affordable service; and Grameen Bank, Muhammad Yunus’ microlending institution.
  2. Where there is no tangible or foreseeable financial benefit, governments and nonprofits need to create a financial benefit through intangible incentives.  It can be as simple as governments and nonprofits can recognize these companies’ efforts through publicizing their good deeds, or as complex as offering creative motivations such as the FDA’s fast-tracking a pharmaceutical company’s drug at the same time they’re introducing a new treatment for a neglected disease such as malaria.

Creative capitalism has been generating quite a bit of buzz since its introduction.  It’s even generated a blog that featured debate on the topic by some of the leading thinkers in economics, which will be published in book form by Simon & Schuster in late 2008.

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