Avoiding the Resource Curse

Written by Ryan McGuine // Economic history is full of countries with abundant stocks of natural resources exporting them to generate revenue. Famous examples include agricultural products in Latin American countries, oil in Persian Gulf countries, and minerals in African countries. Despite this, economic history is short on countries that have successfully converted natural resource … Continue reading Avoiding the Resource Curse

Power, Representation & Development

Written by Anna Wangen // Who writes the story of what "development" is? In a sphere that includes everything from high-level international governing bodies to the smallest local NGOs, as well as academics, humanitarian organizations, aid workers and more, the sheer diversity of actors and institutions renders conflicting ideologies, goals, and interests in "doing development" … Continue reading Power, Representation & Development

Mr Kim Leaves Washington

Written by Ryan McGuine // In January, World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim announced his plans to resign after six years in the role, and begin work at Global Infrastructure Partners, an independent infrastructure fund manager. This decision surprised many, since he was only recently re-elected for a second five year term in 2017. … Continue reading Mr Kim Leaves Washington

Technology Dynamics and Growth

Written by Ryan McGuine // According to the Solow Model, productivity growth is the key to long-term, sustained economic growth. In practice, this is quantified by a blunt measure of economic efficiency called total factor productivity (TFP). Referred to as a "measure of our ignorance" by Robert Solow himself, TFP is calculated by summing up … Continue reading Technology Dynamics and Growth

Partners in Light

Written by Ryan McGuine // In early January 2017, I was awaiting my departure in Haiti's crowded, fan-cooled Toussaint Louverture International Airport at the end of my third week-long church-affiliated service trip to the Eben-Ezer Mission community outside of Gonaïves. At the time, I was involved with the search for a new project for UW-Madison's … Continue reading Partners in Light

Feeding the World: Population vs Technology

Written by Ryan McGuine // Today the world produces historically spectacular amounts of food. Despite this, around 12% of the world remains undernourished, and assuming current trends hold, the world's population is projected to reach 9.8bn people around 2050 and 11.2bn by 2100, making the challenge of keeping everyone well-fed even more difficult. Technological progress … Continue reading Feeding the World: Population vs Technology

Closing the Infrastructure Gap

Written by Ryan McGuine // In 2017 the McKinsey Global Institute estimated that the world would need to spend $67tn by 2035, or $3.7tn annually — roughly $1.3tn more than was spent in 2013 — on infrastructure in order to merely keep up with projected economic growth. This difference between current spending on infrastructure and … Continue reading Closing the Infrastructure Gap

The Elusive 1.5°C

Written by Ryan McGuine // In October, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), released a special report titled Global Warming of 1.5°C, an IPCC special report on the impacts of global warming of 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels and related global greenhouse gas emission pathways, in the context of strengthening the global response to the threat … Continue reading The Elusive 1.5°C

Premature Deindustrialization: Economic Growth Then & Now

Written by Ryan McGuine // The conventional path for economic development has been to use industrialization — the process of increasing industry's relative contribution to total GDP and employment, at the expense of those of agriculture and services — as a means to enable rapid convergence. "Convergence" refers to a catch-up effect whereby countries that … Continue reading Premature Deindustrialization: Economic Growth Then & Now

The Randomistas Shouldn’t Rule, but They Needn’t be Renounced

Written by Ryan McGuine // In August, Martin Ravallion wrote a working paper for the Center for Global Development titled Should the Randomistas (Continue to) Rule? questioning the wisdom of allowing proponents of randomized control trials (RCTs) to dictate the development research agenda. This came after a collection of 15 renowned economists wrote an open … Continue reading The Randomistas Shouldn’t Rule, but They Needn’t be Renounced

How We Use Energy in 2018

Written by Ryan McGuine // In June, oil supermajor British Petroleum (BP) released its 2018 Statistical Review of World Energy, a summary of the trends observed in the energy industry during the prior year and the economic factors driving those trends. BP's Statistical Review is published annually and is considered a benchmark for the energy … Continue reading How We Use Energy in 2018

The Sustainable Development Goals

Written by Ryan McGuine // In the year 2000, the United Nations (UN) adopted the United Nations Millennium Declaration, a document that established the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) — eight goals related to economic development with a target completion date of 2015. Those targets were: To eradicate extreme poverty and hunger To achieve universal primary education To promote gender equality and … Continue reading The Sustainable Development Goals

Energy & Air Pollution

Written by Ryan McGuine // Many sources of energy generate air pollution when consumed. Air pollution is a concern because it has harmful effects on both human health and natural ecosystems. Thus, air pollution generates what are referred to as "negative externalities." In the case of air pollution, that can be anything from healthcare for … Continue reading Energy & Air Pollution

The Energy-Development Nexus

Written by Ryan McGuine // Energy and economic development significantly affect one another. Exactly how they do so, though, is far from straightforward and depends on a dizzying web of interrelated complex systems. As such, this post will not provide the reader with a definitive relationship between the two, but rather will provide an overview … Continue reading The Energy-Development Nexus

The Causes of the Wealth of Nations

Written by Ryan McGuine // Sustained, long-term output per capita growth, often referred to simply as "economic growth" is the ultimate goal of most economic policy interventions, and there are a number of models — mathematic representations of the economy — designed to explain how adjusting certain variables affects output per capita. The Solow Model is one … Continue reading The Causes of the Wealth of Nations

The Nature of the Wealth of Nations

Written by Ryan McGuine // Before inquiring into the causes of development phenomena observed, it is a good idea to first establish just what phenomena are observed. Toward those ends, Nicholas Kaldor presented a set of six stylized facts in 1961 designed to summarize what had been learned about economics in the 20th century and … Continue reading The Nature of the Wealth of Nations

Defining Development

Written by Ryan McGuine // The term "development" generally refers to the level of well-being that people enjoy, but quantifying well-being is not an easy thing to do. The traditional, and still most commonly-used, way to measure and compare levels of well-being across countries is personal income — gross national income (GNI) per capita. A … Continue reading Defining Development