I think the most interesting thing that we discussed during the course was the Great Divergence. The Great Divergence is a topic that has many points that can be argued, in regards as to how and why it happened. Although I am a bit skeptical of convergence, I think that the Global South can catch up in some ways, but not completely.What I found most surprising and what I was unaware of was how the IMF sometimes hurts a country’s situation more than helping it, at least according to William Easterly who believes that the IMF should stay away from countries that are “true disaster states.” I always thought that the IMF was some great organization that truly helped countries in need, but I learned otherwise for certain countries like Argentina. The IMF creates a perpetual circle of debt and poverty for some countries that they are unable to rise out of. What I found useful from this course was how successful is aid really. I always thought that aid was something that was positive, I never thought it could be something negative or that we should stop and think about what we are doing by providing the aid. I never had thought about the fact that by providing aid, Western societies have to be invasive. I was unaware that sometimes providing aid has little benefits, and I didn’t know about the research behind the success of aid.
My views on the causes of poverty in the Global South have not changed much, I was aware the corruption and some of the reasons as to why the Global South is so impoverished, although my opinion of the possibility of the Global North changing poverty in the Global South is much different now. I am now much more skeptical of our ways of helping the developing world. I believe that we have a lot to learn in terms of helping those in need. We need to research more and see if the aid we are providing is actually working. I think that we should continue to provide aid, but I also think we should focus on more programs that help rebuild communities, provide educations, and help the people find a way to provide in the future for their communities. I think that sometimes we just give in the moment without thinking about how to help people in the long run, which is what they truly need. I think that Western society also generalizes states in poverty and thinks that they can all be “fixed” the same way, which is part of the problem. Each state in poverty needs its own plan, that is researched and well thought-out, sometimes each community within a country needs a specialized plan for there to be progress.
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How are we able to determine if a foreign aid program has worked or not? Are these developing countries better off without the aid we provide? Paul Collier says that when asking if aid is part of the problem or part of the solution, that it is something empirical. We can only determine if aid is truly helping through research and experiments. Collier’s research on determining if aid projects were working showed that aid was playing a large part in preventing more capital flight. Determining if an aid project has worked can mean different things for different people. For some people an aid project working can mean did the money for project actually build the school or was the program established? For the majority of people it means did the aid project improve the livelihood of the poor in the developing world.
One of the ways to provide data as to if an aid project was successful is impact evaluation (IE). The IE gauges the transformation of a community that was occurred due to a project or program was put in place to change it. IE looks at what would have happened if the community didn’t receive the aid provided. The problem with IE is that you can’t determine what a community would be like with or without the program, without intervening. Although one of the problems with IE is that, “IE tools are best equipped for assessing what a project’s impact was, not how that impact was achieved (Easterly 2009, Deaton 2010),” (Clemens, Demonbynes). Some of the measures required in determining if an aid project was successful are a question of ethics. Jeffrey Sachs says that it’s “ethically not possible to do an intensive intervention of measurement without interventions of actual process (Clemens, Demonbynes, 8).
The IMF sometimes has more success with programs than other organizations because they don’t have very many goals. Although, the problem with the IMF is that it provides short-term fixes to help a country’s economy, that can be compared to a bandaid in some senses because they don’t think about the situation long-term. The IMF works to help countries stabilize their economy by providing money in the form of a loan. William Easterly believes that the IMF should stay away from countries that are considered true disaster states because they already have loans that still need to be repaid, by adding more it just leaves them in a constant state of repaying loans. Since these countries have to constantly pay loans, they are unable to leave their impoverished state. I personally do not think we can answer yes to if an aid project worked, maybe we’re able to say that it helped, but the ways of providing data on this topic seem somewhat arbitrary. There are so many unanswered questions or the information is too generalized and needs to be more specialized to whatever program is being assessed.
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Michael Clemens and Gabriel Demombynes, The New Transparency in Development Economics: Lessons from the Millennium Villages Controvery.
Paul Collier, The Bottom Billion: Why the Poorest Countries are Falling Behind, and What can be Done About it, Chapter 7
William Easterly, The White Man’s Burden: Why the West’s Efforts to Aid the Rest Have Done So Much ill and So Little Good, Chapter 6
For a young Chinese citizen from the rural areas, “going out,” means going out for work. Going out is when you leave your family and go to a city to find work in a factory. These young people who move to another city to work, call it: chuqu, which is to go out. They describe it as having nothing to do in their rural homes, so they decide to go out. The jobs offered in the city are generally factory jobs but there are also restaurants, etc. to work in. These young people who “go out” to work in other cities have created the largest migration in human history
The young women who choose to “go out” are generally younger than the males who “go out,” they also generally travel farther from home and they “stay out” longer also. These young women want to improve their lives and the prospect of moving gives them endless possibilities that could potentially completely change their current situation. When both the men and women were interviewed as to why they would like to leave home, the men generally said because they would make more money, the women however said they would like to leave because they wanted to experience more in their lives. Another aspect as to why more women leave home is Chinese traditions. The tradition was for a Chinese son to marry and go back to their parent’s home. On the other hand, when a daughter was completely grown up she wouldn’t return home.
There are not many other opportunities offered to the young people in rural China other than farming. One of the options is to stay home, but now that is considered somewhat shameful to stay home today. In the past it was considered shameful to go out and find work back in the 70s and 80s, but now it has completely changed and is the opposite. Another option for the young people in rural China is to marry someone from their home province that their parents approve of, but the young men are more likely to stay home and marry because of Chinese tradition. I think that “going out” is the best option for young people in China that are from rural areas because these areas in China are isolated from the rest of the world and offer very little to the people who live there besides farming and marriage. When a young person migrates to a city to work in a factory, etc. they are given the opportunity to possibility improve their life. I think that “going out” is definitely the best option for a young woman in China because their families do not give them as much importance as they give their sons.
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Source: Factory Girls: From Village to City in a Changing China
by Leslie T. Chang