Thursday, November 10, 2011

Do Victims of War Need International Law? Human Rights Education Programs in Sudan

Mark Fathi Massoud (McGill Law) has a new article, Do Victims of War Need International Law? Human Rights Education Programs in Sudan. It examines contemporary programs in law and development in authoritarian and war-torn contexts. The paper is based on nearly 18 months of field research in Sudan, since 2005.

Friday, November 4, 2011

A Research Agenda for Development Economics

Esther Duflo

, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Department of Economics has an interesting paper on A Research Agenda for Development Economics.

Development economics has grown tremendously in the last fifteen years. It can continue to grow and improve in the next decades by focusing on three areas. First, revitalizing the tradition of applied theory which transformed development economics in the 1980s and 1990s, by giving us a better understanding of how poverty shapes individual options. A new wave of applied theoretical work is needed, to incorporate recent empirical findings that have revealed the limits of the earlier theoretical framework. Second, continue expanding and improving empirical work, in particular experimental work. More ambitious, potentially more expensive experiments, should be conducted. Third, expanding theoretical and empirical work on the aggregate consequences of micro-level distortions, themselves identified by the new theoretical and the empirical work to be done under the first and second areas of focus.

Challenges for Social Sciences: Institutions and Economic Development

Daron Acemoglu,

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Department of Economics has a great overview piece on Challenges for Social Sciences: Institutions and Economic Development.

Why some countries are much poorer than others is one of the oldest questions in social science. It will also be one of the most challenging and important questions in the next several decades. This is for several reasons. First, despite spectacular growth in per capita incomes in much of the world during the 20th century, the gaps between rich and poor countries, rather than abating, have expanded. This pattern is challenging to most of our theories because many of the barriers to the spread of prosperity have disappeared: ideas travel around the world almost instantaneously, and any nation should today be able to easily copy any economic or social practice that it wishes; various impediments to trade in goods and to financial flows and foreign direct investments have largely disappeared. But the wide gaps in incomes and living standards remain. Second, these gaps have meant that while the rich world has become richer, poverty, disease and social injustice are still widespread in many parts of the world, notably in much of sub-Saharan Africa, in parts of South Asia and in various pockets of poverty in the Caribbean and Central America.

Challenging though these issues may be, we are now much better equipped to understand, and perhaps work towards redressing, the causes of these widespread disparities. Much of the progress on this issue has been made in economics (see Acemoglu, 2009, for an overview), but the next step will require us to combine the insights and tools developed in economics with perspectives from other social sciences.