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Free Chapter of Stockman Book on New Deal Recovery

May 12, 2013 in Economics

By Mark Thornton

David Stockman on the Myths of a New Deal Recovery. Its a free chapter from his book.

The Real Reason for FDR’s Popularity

Stockman Seminar

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Fast Growth Will Save Lives Not the Food Security Bill

May 12, 2013 in Economics

By Swaminathan S. Anklesaria Aiyar

Swaminathan S. Anklesaria Aiyar

Amartya Sen wants to estimate the number of deaths caused by the delay in passing the Food Security Bill. He thinks this may shame Opposition politicians into ceasing disruption of proceedings in the Lok Sabha. “To capture people’s attention, you have to have a number,” he says.

Fine, but let’s hope Sen will also estimate deaths caused by faulty policies that historically kept India’s GDP growth slow, and have once again slowed growth today. He loves to emphasise that for any given GDP growth, better social investment will improve outcomes. Why not equally emphasise that, for any given level of social investment, faster growth will also improve outcomes and reduce deaths?

Sen gained fame by estimating that 100 million women were “missing” because of gender discrimination that led to excess female mortality. He looked at the male-female ratio in China, South Asia, West Asia and North Africa, and asked what would have happened if these regions had the same sex ratio as in Western countries where women and men receive equally good care. He calculated that these countries would have had more than 100 million extra women.

Now, this was a very simplistic calculation, ignoring the many factors influencing female mortality other than sex discrimination. Indeed , this explains why Sen published this article in the New York Review of Books: any top economic journal may have rejected it for want of economic rigour.

His critics included economist Emily Oster, who suggested that the high incidence of hepatitis B in women in Asian countries, rather than discrimination, could be the main cause for high mortality. A separate careful review by demographer Ansley Coale suggested that the number of “missing women” might be far lower at 60 million. These criticisms didn’t dent Sen’s reputation at all. Despite its lack of rigour, Sen’s calculation of 100 million missing women caught the public imagination because it highlighted, in simple language, the enormity of social disasters that can flow from gender discrimination. What mattered was not the precision of data but the magnitude of the social disaster.

We need similar estimates of social disasters caused by lack of economic growth. Back in 2009, I wrote a paper for the Cato Institute titled “Socialism Kills: The Human Cost of Delayed Economic Reform in India”. (http:// ). In the same spirit of inquiry as Sen, I estimated the number of “miss ing children”, “missing literates” …read more

Source: OP-EDS