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Category: Development Economics

The Intangible Wealth of Nations

The Intangible Wealth of Nations

A few months ago, the White House released its “New Strategy Toward Sub-Saharan Africa,” which contains four key bullets summarizing its approach.  The first, and most important, goal is one that has been a pillar of American foreign policy for decades: “Strengthening democratic institutions.”  The State Department has tried to use a variety of carrots and sticks to make this a reality, including providing incentives for implementing democratic reforms in the form of of financial and in-kind aid.  In the…

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Kenya Enacts Bad Immigration Policy

Kenya Enacts Bad Immigration Policy

Today, the Nairobi ex-pats are riled up about a new policy restricting immigration for young and low-skilled workers in Kenya.  Here is the story: Kenya has shut the door on foreigners seeking permits for jobs that pay less than Sh168,000 per month or Sh2 million per year (USD $24,000). The move, which marks a major labour market policy change, also bars foreigners aged 35 years or less from being issued with work permits. The changes are contained in fresh regulations that Immigration…

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What Do I Think of Agriculture Development? Pt. 3

What Do I Think of Agriculture Development? Pt. 3

The following is part three of a three-part post on agriculture economic development.  Read part two here. Aid, as I have discussed in this blog, is one of the three D’s of foreign policy: defense, diplomacy, and development.  It is the hearts in the phrase “winning the hearts and minds.” Being so, the work is certainly not borne entirely, or even at all, out of altruistic motives.  Instead, it is one way of winning sympathy and gratitude from people whose…

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What Do I Think of Agriculture Development? Pt. 2

What Do I Think of Agriculture Development? Pt. 2

This is part two of a three-part post on agriculture economic development.  Read part one here. In the previous post, I explained my experience working in agriculture.  In this one, I will talk more generally about the challenges of agriculture economic development in general. Needless to say, the challenges are great, as I have written about before.  And, while I feel the idea of market facilitation has merit and has seen some successes, particularly in cash crops like coffee and…

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What Do I Think of Agriculture Development? Pt. 1

What Do I Think of Agriculture Development? Pt. 1

This is part one of a three-part post on agriculture economic development. After the better part of a year working for Negros Women for Tomorrow Foundation (NWTF), a microfinance institution in the Philippines, I decided to head west again – specifically, to West Africa.  In late 2010, I moved to Ghana to work with TechnoServe, a non-profit specializing in market-driven solutions to economic development.  This is really just a fancy way of saying that TechnoServe recognizes the importance of competitive…

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Luck of the Draw: Poverty and Success

Luck of the Draw: Poverty and Success

A few weeks ago, the class of 2012 graduated from university and stepped out into the world.  And one commencement speech, in particular, has been attracting a lot of attention for its candor and unexpected message: that the success of the graduates sitting in the audience is due, in large part, to luck. Michael Lewis, author of Liar’s Poker and Moneyball, spoke to the graduates of Princeton University and tried to make them recognize just how lucky they are: People…

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What Do I think of Nairobi?

What Do I think of Nairobi?

When you live abroad, you are, with certain key exceptions, surrounded by people with a similar zest for seeing things differently.  This is particularly true for places that are either particularly off the beaten path or destinations for people whose interests reflect your own.  Burma a couple of years ago fell into the former category, while Kenya this past year would be the latter. People ask me all the time what I think of Nairobi.  I tell them that I…

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How to Break Into Development, pt. 2

How to Break Into Development, pt. 2

This is part one of a two-part post on getting involved in international development work.  Read part one here. Trying to answer these questions – at first in vain, and, a few years later, more successfully – helped me so much that I have dispensed this same advice a dozen times since.  But I would add a fourth question is to these questions as philosophy is to math.  Ask yourself, “What do I want out of this experience?” Because figuring…

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How to Break Into Development, Pt. 1

How to Break Into Development, Pt. 1

This is part one of a two-part post on getting involved in international development work.  Read part two here. One day back in May 2009, I was sitting at my desk at my office on Boylston Street in downtown Boston reading Next Billion.  I had decided the week before that I would quit my job in September and leave the U.S. for an adventure.  After a cursory review of the options, I decided backpacking and teaching English weren’t for me,…

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Should You Pay a Bribe?

Should You Pay a Bribe?

Around the world, money talks.  In some places, it speaks in a whisper; in others, it is like your humble correspondent at a party after one too many dark and stoney’s – loud and obnoxious.  And in Kenya, many, if not all, businesses, will at some point find themselves deciding whether or makes financial sense to pay a bribe. Corruption is not a third world vice.  There are enough Swiss bank accounts and shell companies in the Cayman Islands to…

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