Reparations, Explained

Last April, the U.S. Congress advanced H.R. 40, the Commission to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African-Americans Act, for committee consideration. In 1989, Congressman John Conyers first introduced the bill. Since then, H.R. 40 has been re-introduced at every congressional session but never reached a committee vote. The bill would form a 13-member federal commission to examine the sources of racial discrimination and voter suppression that date back to the United State’s enslavement of Black people. This federal commission would then present policy proposals to Congress for redress and repair, including reparations. Reparations refer to an economic system of Continue reading Reparations, Explained

Qhapaq Ñan and Long-Term Economic Development

In the early 15th century, the Inca Empire extended along the Pacific coast and into the Andean mountains across Ecuador, Peru, northern Chile, Bolivia, upland Argentina, and southern Colombia. At its peak, the empire consisted of 12 million inhabitants from more than 100 different ethnic groups. The Qhapaq Ñan, a 30,000-kilometre-long transportation and communication system, was central to the empire’s expansion and exchange-based economy. In its construction, the location of this road system was not random but determined by social, economic, and geographical factors and patterns. What’s more, while this network was the spine of the Inca Empire, it also Continue reading Qhapaq Ñan and Long-Term Economic Development

Discounting, Explained

The climate policy landscape is shaped by the cost-benefit concept of discounting, where discount rates are an exogenous parameter in determining the rate at which governments achieve climate mitigation goals like decarbonization. Discounting refers to the present-value evaluation of a future event or a project with a long-run profile. That is, when a cost or benefit is in the future rather than in the present, those values are not directly comparable to present-day values and are discounted. To understand how discounting has led to insufficient climate action, an explanation of its technical operations is first necessary. Here, we offer an Continue reading Discounting, Explained

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 and Development, 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 (LMICs) 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, LMICs 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 and Development, 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