COVID-19 in Developing Countries, Explained

Beyond the need for medical gear and proper public handwashing stations to adequately curb the transmission of COVID-19, institutional shortcomings in low- and middle-income countries present distinct challenges for effective public health measures. From crowded living spaces in slums and informal markets to the vulnerable livelihoods of refugee and migrant populations alongside women and children, developing countries are most fragile to this crisis. Urban slums and rural areas People living in overcrowded situations with little access to water and sanitation are at the greatest risk of exposure. The one-eighth of the world’s population who live in urban slums cannot properly Continue reading COVID-19 in Developing Countries, Explained

Motherhood, Labor, and Informal Markets

With 2 billion people working informally, 93 percent in low- and middle-income countries, informality has consistently been associated with low productivity and poverty. The informal sector refers to activities that occur outside of regulated markets and is characterized by workers who often do not pay taxes and have weak social protection. As in most other markets, gender disparities are persistent. Globally, women have an employment rate of 58.1 percent with overrepresentation in sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, and Asia and the Pacific. These circumstances present unique challenges and opportunities in decisions about motherhood. The International Labour Office identifies Continue reading Motherhood, Labor, and Informal Markets

The Economics of Menstrual Hygiene Management

Menstrual hygiene management (MHM) is closely related to the economic growth of less developed countries (LDCs). Yet over 500 million women and girls globally still lack access to facilities and materials for adequate MHM. The silence, taboo, and stigma associated with menstruation often make it difficult to maintain good hygiene and limit women’s and girls’ potential in society. Restrictions during menstruation, from staying home from school or temple to having to sleep outside, and the lack of adequate washroom access in LDCs have affected women’s and girls’ likelihood to attend school. While this is first a sanitation matter, it is Continue reading The Economics of Menstrual Hygiene Management

Gross Domestic Product, Explained

Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is the most commonly used tool to refer to the size of an economy. It is, in effect, assumed to indicate the well-being of any given country. Born in the manufacturing age, the tool’s failure to count for environmental costs, unpaid work, technology benefits, and the informal economy, have conceded economists’ widespread debate around the dethronement of GDP as an indicator of economic and social success. To understand how this tool fails to paint a comprehensive picture of a country’s well-being, an explanation of GDP as a concept is first necessary. GDP measures the aggregate value Continue reading Gross Domestic Product, Explained

Gender, Microcredit, and Climate Change

Financial markets often operate under gender biases that further conditions of credit scarcity among women in low- and middle-income countries. Highly gendered decision making in the governance of these banks diminishes the flow of capital into women’s projects and to women’s enterprises. This restricted access to credit services particularly hurts women-headed households. With women borrowers also being generally associated with lower portfolio-at-risk, lower write-offs, and lower credit-loss provisions, development organizations have, over the last decades, focused on extending credit to women to lift them and their families out of poverty. Microcredit refers to the practice of giving a small loan Continue reading Gender, Microcredit, and Climate Change

The Economics of Maquiladoras

The early opening of Mexico’s economy under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) widely encouraged foreign investment in the maquiladora industry. Organized shortly before the Border Industrialization Program (BIP) in 1965, maquiladoras are foreign-owned transnational assembly plants that operate mostly tariff-free at the northern Mexican border. Per the free-trade zone established by NAFTA, maquiladoras incur a value-added tax when re-exporting the final goods to the United States. A value-added tax is a duty on the value of the finished product minus the total cost of the parts that had been imported to make it. Economists refer to this model Continue reading The Economics of Maquiladoras

Ecological Debt, Explained

A year ago, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released a report. Pooling more than 6,000 scientific publications and drawing contributions from 133 authors, a group of over a thousand scientists found that humankind has less than eleven years to stop massive and irreversible climate change. In order to avoid the risk of a global emergency, governments must limit warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. For the planet to meet or stay below the threshold, fast and far-reaching changes to the traditional models of resource usage need to occur – and for the most part, attempts to assign responsibility have Continue reading Ecological Debt, Explained

The Economics of Protesting

All around the world, countries are experiencing large popular unrest. Responses from government have varied: in Algeria, large-scale arrests are a new norm; in Lebanon, law enforcement counter demonstrators with rubber bullets and teargas; and in Haiti, clashes with police have left at least 18 dead. In order to better discern what forces are motivating citizens and their movements to incur such risks, an examination of the rational individual’s decision making, the free-rider, and spoiling as a deterrent of public support is necessary. The protest decision and the rational individual A rational behaving individual evaluates the benefits and costs of Continue reading The Economics of Protesting

A Circular Economy, Explained

Circular economies are often portrayed as simple combinations of reduce, reuse, and recycle activities as popular definitions have come short of selling the model’s potential to increase economic prosperity, derive more value from inputs, and reduce emissions. Considering our climate emergency and volatile resource markets, a 4R framework, closed-loop production process could be a real contender for transforming our economy.  To understand how this model could reform the current system, a comprehensive explanation of circular economies as a concept is necessary. While there are multiple definitions for the model, the following aims are almost always mentioned: to enable sustainable development at Continue reading A Circular Economy, Explained