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EGC Voices in Development
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© 2023 EGC Voices in Development
A regular series exploring issues related to sustainable development and economic justice in low and middle income countries. Produced by the Economic Growth Center at Yale University.
Celebrating 73 years of the Indian constitution: Rohit De, Barkha Dutt, and Rohini Pande on the constitution’s history and role in women’s empowerment in India
Every year on January 26th, India celebrates Republic Day – the day the Indian Constitution went into effect in 1950, after three years of drafting and debate by independent India’s first Constituent Assembly. The Indian constitution outlined a vision of radical transformation. It established equality before the law for men and women – granting women the right to vote, prohibiting gender pay gaps, criminalizing gender-based discrimination, and creating provisions to protect the interests of women and children. Seventy three years later, how is the Indian constitution protecting women’s rights and advancing gender equality?In this episode of EGC Voices in Development, Rohit De, Barkha Dutt, and Rohini Pande examine how India’s Constitution has advanced the position of women, and where it has fallen short. This conversation is a special edition of Voices in Development, a podcast series from Yale’s Economic Growth Center exploring issues related to sustainable development and economic justice in low- and middle-income countries, with a group of inter-disciplinary experts coming together for the Yale Development Dialogues.Rohit De, a lawyer and Associate Professor of History at Yale with a focus on the legal history of the Indian subcontinent, describes the origins of how the Indian Constitution addresses women’s rights, how those rights balance private and public spheres, and how they interact with caste, class, and religion.“What does it mean for institutions to enter the domain of the family? Legislation in the bedroom is like a bull in a China shop.” - Rohit DeBarkha Dutt, one of India’s most prominent journalists, speaks about how the rights afforded to women in the constitution intersect with lived experiences of the women she’s spoken with in her reporting – especially the poor, survivors of sexual violence, and those marginalized during the Covid-19 pandemic.“I remember one point when the women's [affirmative action] legislation looked like it was going to go through, you had intersectional pushback from caste groups saying [it was] only going to benefit elite women. One politician… said, “this quota is only for… city-slicker urban women. It was, of course, a very misogynist statement, but it made us confront how complex the gender conversation is in India because sooner or later you will collide with caste identity, religious identity, class identity, and so on. I think when we look at women and the rights legally enshrined to protect them, it's a very paradoxical situation.” - Barkha DuttRohini Pande, Henry J. Heinz II Professor of Economics and Director of the Economic Growth Center, draws on her research on women’s economic opportunity to discuss how India’s laws have succeeded in establishing certain safety nets and have failed to create others, especially with regard to women’s rights in the economy and the home.“While I think paid maternity leave is a good idea, the way it's implemented in India tells companies they have a choice between expensive women and less expensive men. Even if you want companies to pay, you want them to pay a tax to the state and the state pays women so companies don't see this direct tradeoff between hiring women.” - Rohini PandeThis wide-ranging discussion touches on many aspects of women’s lives, including paid maternity leave, access to technology, freedom from harassment and violence, educational attainment – as well as broader economic trends in India such as the move away from an agriculture-based economy.“For most people, even... when you agree on very little else, if you say 'is this constitutional?' that still frames the boundaries of conversations in India. Even when you can't actually execute what the constitution looked ahead to, the constitution is always a document of hope. It's a document for what India could be.” - Barkha Dutt
Transforming the future of agricultural markets: Prof. Lauren Falcao Bergquist on using technology to combat food insecurity in East Africa
The global food system has been knocked off its axis by conflict, Covid-19, and climate change. Food prices have soared to record heights around the world, and lower-income countries face food shortages. As an economist with a focus on agricultural market research, Lauren Falcao Bergquist, Assistant Professor of Economics and Global Affairs and EGC affiliate, is motivated by her passion for improving the quality of life in the communities where she conducts her research. In this episode of Voices in Development, Bergquist emphasizes the criticality of research on both food supply and distribution, describing her work as centering around "how to get food from areas of surplus to areas of deficit, from times of plenty to times of need."Bergquist's interest in development economics was inspired by a summer she spent living in a rural village in Tanzania as a Stanford undergrad. She obtained her PhD from the University of California, Berkeley and has since conducted extensive research on trade, firm behavior and East African agricultural markets. As well as being an Affiliate at the Jameel Poverty Action Lab, Bergquist's work has been published in the Quarterly Journal of Economics and the American Economic Review, she is a Faculty Research Fellow at the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), and the Lead Academic for Rwanda at the International Growth Centre (IGC).
Understanding the backlash to globalization: Prof. Penny Goldberg on the complicated relationship between international trade, poverty reduction, and inequality
Once embraced as a pathway to global prosperity, globalization has come under attack in recent years. International trade has decreased inequality between nations, but at the cost of sometimes increasing inequalities within nations. As countries try to deal with the unequal benefits of trade by turning to protectionism, how can global coordination and poverty reduction be sustained? Pinelopi (Penny) Koujianou Goldberg – Elihu Professor of Economics and Global Affairs at Yale and an EGC affiliate – explores these subjects in her upcoming monograph. For globalization and trade to be welcomed, Goldberg says, “redistribution has to go hand-in-hand with trade liberalization.”Goldberg’s path into economics was heavily influenced by her upbringing in Greece during the 1970s, as increasing trade flows played an important role in the country’s transition to a middle- and then high-income economy. She went on to serve as Chief Economist at the World Bank Group, taking her academic career into the world of policy. Goldberg is a leading microeconomist on trade and development and her work has been published in Econometrica, the Quarterly Journal of Economics, the American Economic Review and the Review of Economic Studies, among other journals. She delivered the Ohlin Lecture in Stockholm in 2019, and her monograph “The Unequal Effects of Globalization”, based on that talk and other research, will be published in 2023.
Training the Next Generation of African Economists: Prof. Leonard Wantchekon on the university he founded
As African nations take on new economic challenges and seek new development opportunities, their success will rely in part on an essential, often overlooked resource: African economists.To help provide future economists with the training they will need and to support African students in pursuing policy-relevant economic research as a process of ‘self-discovery’, Princeton University professor Leonard Wantchekon is working to build the African School of Economics in his home country of Benin. It’s just one of the many institutions that Wantchekon sees as critical to the equitable development of the African continent.The African School of Economics currently offers master’s degrees in mathematics, economics, statistics, and business administration, as well as a Ph.D. in economics. To expand its reach globally, the school has lined up a dozen academic partners, including Princeton. ASE also plans to open campuses in East Africa and West Africa, with the goal of serving upwards of 15,000 students.This fall, ASE will expand its reach with the establishment of a new campus in Nigeria, building on current locations in Benin, Cote d’Ivoire and affiliations in New York city and Princeton, NJ.Wantchekon’s own career in development economics was shaped in part by his experience as a pro-democracy student activist under a military regime in Benin in the 1970s and 80s. Since then, he has made ground-breaking research contributions on topics as diverse as the long-term effects of education, political distortions and public deliberation, and the slave trade’s impact on trust in West Africa. Media coverage of his research has appeared in Financial Times, New York Times, Los Angeles Times, The Economist and BBC, among others.