Food Price Index in Native American Reservations, Explained

Colonization and its tools violently disrupt traditional food systems for many Native American communities. Data collected between 2000 and 2010 by the United States Department of Agriculture place the average food insecurity rate at 25 percent for Native Americans and Alaska Natives. To understand the availability of food and its household-level barriers, an explanation of the food price index in Native reservations is necessary. As part of a 12-month study, the First Nations Development Institute collected monthly prices on food products in 40 reservations with the help of several community members. This study designed a hypothetical basket of goods including Continue reading Food Price Index in Native American Reservations, Explained

The Economics of Day Laboring as a Monopsony

Day labor, a form of contingent work that is available daily with no assurance of future employment or job security, is a critical segment of the United States’ labor market and domestic informal economy. Around 117,600 individuals in the U.S. are either competing for day labor jobs or employed as day laborers on any given day and 83 percent of which rely on this activity as their sole source of income. Foreign-born and minoritized workers are overrepresented among the prospective laborers looking for work next to open-air roadside markets, at busy street corners, in front of hardware stores, as well Continue reading The Economics of Day Laboring as a Monopsony

Spatial Economics, Explained

Modeling tricks and approaches have removed key technical barriers to the study of geography and distance in economics. Revived research interest in where economic activity occurs and why as well as in the physical distribution of wealth and peoples has led to the rise of spatial economics. Spatial economics exists at the intersection of econometrics, geographic information science, and data analytics to identify and answer real-world concerns like the extent to which constructing inter-regional transportation infrastructures can help reduce inequality or integrating networks of suppliers, distributors, consumers, and community across spaces can increase the competitiveness of local food producers. In Continue reading Spatial Economics, Explained

Externalities, Explained

Externalities are the external impacts incurred by an economic agent not involved in a transaction, which can be either a cost (negative) or a benefit (positive) and occur from either the production or consumption of a good or service. Thus, because externalities lead to a difference in the public impact from the private impact, a deadweight loss exists. A deadweight loss is an excess burden created by the lost economic efficiency when the socially optimal quantity of a good or service is not produced or consumed. To understand how social planners correct for this form of a market failure, an Continue reading Externalities, Explained

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