Policy

Open and hidden gender inequality

By: Lykke E. Andersen*

Economists distinguish between open and hidden unemployment, and I think it is possible to introduce a similar distinction in the area of gender inequality.

I will define open gender inequality as that which is reflected in all the traditional gender indicators, such as gender gaps in school enrolment, gender differences in labour market participation rates, gender pay gaps, etc. I would usually have referred to the World Bank’s World Development Indicators for such data, but they have been updating their website, and I can’t find anything anymore. The United Nations system for SDG indicators is even worse. Instead, Our World in Data has vastly improved, so that is my new go-to site for all kinds of development statistics, including gender inequality data (https://sdg-tracker.org/gender-equality).

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The vicious circle of gender inequality in Economics

By: Lykke E. Andersen*

There has been a lot of focus lately on the extreme levels of gender inequality in economics (e.g. Economics is the most dismal of sciences in terms of gender inequality). According to the IDEAS/RePEc ranking of more than 50 thousand economists in the world, only 19% of registered economists are women, and they are much rarer than that among the top ranked economists (https://ideas.repec.org/top/#authorscountry).

Typically, there are only about a handful of women among the top 100 economists in any particular country. In the Netherlands there is just 1, in the United States 3, in Canada 4, in Sweden 5, in the UK, Germany, Norway and Italy 8, and Denmark seems to hold the record with 10. (Do let me know in the comments below if you find a country with more than 10 women among the top 100 economists according to RePEc, because I didn’t check the countries with names that were too unfamiliar to me).

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Economics is the most dismal of sciences in terms of gender equality

By: Lykke E. Andersen*

While the World’s education systems currently favour girls and women across most of the World (1), with 112 women enrolled in university for every 100 men worldwide (2), this educational advantage has yet to translate itself into more lucrative and prestigious positions for women. This is particularly so in the economics profession.

Only one woman has ever been awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics (Elinor Ostrom in 2009), whereas in Physics there are 2 female Nobel Prize winners, in Chemistry 4, in Medicine 12, in Literature 14, and 16 women have been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize (3).

That women have trouble rising to the top in the economics profession is also reflected by the fact that there are currently only eight countries in the World in which the highest ranked economist is a woman (4). In at least three of those cases, however, the female researcher does not actually live in the country, but is rather affiliated with an institution in the country, while currently living in another country (5). Thus, only five countries in the world has a top economist, who is both female and actually lives in the country: Bolivia, Burkina Faso, Tanzania, Trinidad and Tobago, and Uganda. In contrast, there are 120 countries in which the top ranked economist is male (see Map 1). For the remainder of the countries, no data was available, as no economists at all had registered at RePEc.

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Advantages and disadvantages of being disabled in Bolivia

By: Lykke E. Andersen*

Today is the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, and I wanted to share some data from the latest Bolivian Population Census (2012), which was unusual, because it included questions about disabilities for the first time. According to this census, disability is not that common in Bolivia. Less than 2% of the population have difficulties seeing, and less than 1% have difficulties either hearing, speaking, walking or remembering (see Figure 1).

Figure 1: Percentage of the Bolivian population with some kind of disability, 2012

Figure 1: Percentage of the Bolivian population with some kind of disability, 2012
Source: REDATAM tabulations of the Census information at www.ine.gob.bo.

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Impressions from the 8th Bolivian Conference on Development Economics

By: Lykke E. Andersen*

Despite my initial hesitations about going ahead with the 8th Bolivian Conference on Development Economics much too late and without any confirmed sponsors, I have to admit that the 8th BCDE conference, carried out at UPB-Cochabamba this week, was once again a big success, and that I have thoroughly enjoyed two intensive days of frontier development research and networking in Cochabamba.

One of the main benefits of organizing the BCDE conference is the chance to invite and meet amazing people. This year, I was particularly delighted to meet Sara Farley of the Global Knowledge Initiative. Her keynote speech was about Collaborative Innovation, and while that was very inspiring in itself, it was even more interesting to hear, over dinner, how she applies that concept to everything in her own life (even her recent hiking & camping wedding on a mountain top in the US). I would love to try to apply some of her methods and strategies to the complex development problems of Bolivia.

Keynote speakers, Carlos Végh (World Bank) and Sara Farley (Global Knowledge Initiative), with Manuel Olave (Rector of UPB), and Boris Branisa (head of the BCDE8 Organizing Committee) at the inauguration session, UPB-Cochabamba, 26 October 2017.
Keynote speakers, Carlos Végh (World Bank) and Sara Farley (Global Knowledge Initiative), with Manuel Olave (Rector of UPB), and Boris Branisa (head of the BCDE8 Organizing Committee) at the inauguration session, UPB-Cochabamba, 26 October 2017.

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Procrastination and Public Policy

amedinaceliAgnes Medinaceli Baldivieso*

Most people try to avoid procrastination. However, I’m pretty sure that everyone has fallen into this pit, at least once. Of course, putting off things has its benefits from time to time (1). Some even think that procrastination is the fuel of creativity (2). Apparently Steve Job’s success is attributed to his procrastination skills! (3). However, if creativity is not needed to fulfil a task, which is generally the case, then procrastination ends in regret and sometimes even in severe welfare losses (4). But, why do we procrastinate if we know that the costs in the long run are generally higher?

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Road blog No. 2: Bad roads are debt traps as well as death traps

By: Lykke E. Andersen*

According to Nina and Arduz (2016), the density of roads in Bolivia is about 8 km per 100 km2 of territory, which is less than half the average density in Latin America and less than a third of the world average of 28 km/100 km2. By 2012, about 52% of the primary road network was paved, while a very small fraction of other roads was paved. The lack of good roads constitutes a serious limitation on the development of the country, as it dramatically increases transportation time and vehicle maintenance costs, and therefore transport costs (1).

This situation is pretty much inevitable for a large, sparsely populated, mountainous, jungle covered country, like Bolivia, but the Government of Bolivia has been doing its best to improve the situation by channelling enormous amounts of money into road construction (around USD 10 billion during the last 10 years), making the transport sector by far the single biggest recipient of public funds. For example, last year the Bolivian Government budgeted 28.9% of all public investment to the transport sector (28.9% of USD 6.4 billion amounts to USD 1.8 billion), while the education and health sectors received 5.5% each, and the water infrastructure sector only 0.9% (2).

The problem is that almost all of these road investments have been unbelievably badly executed.

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Chasing a moving target: 100% coverage of water and sanitation in Bolivia by 2025

By: Lykke E. Andersen*

Last month I participated in a very interesting workshop on water and sanitation in rural Bolivia organized by the Ministry of Environment and Water. I learned from the engineers and sociologists there that things are never as simple as economists tend to think. But as the only economist present, I also tried to teach the engineers and sociologists that things are not as simple as they tend to think.

With the combined insights from engineers, sociologists and economists, I have reached the conclusion that 100% coverage is an elusive target for at least five different reasons:

First, the population growth rate in Bolivia is about 1.5% per year, which means that even if we reach 100% coverage by January 2025, by December the same year there will be almost 200,000 additional people who need water and sanitation.

Second, the population is not only constantly growing, but also constantly moving. More than half of all Bolivian municipalities are losing population due to internal migration (see Map 1 below), while a few dozen municipalities are receiving the vast majority of these migrants. The main receiving municipalities are: Santa Cruz de la Sierra (32,000 migrants per year), El Elto (20,000), Cochabamba (11,000), La Guardia (6,000), Warnes (6,000), Oruro (6,000), Sacaba (6,000), and Tarija (5,000) (1). Close to a million Bolivians will have moved from one municipality to another between now and 2025, and most of them will likely come from the disperse rural communities that the government is currently prioritizing for water and sanitation investments. The most extreme example in the map below is the municipality of Chayanta in the northern part of Potosí. In the five years before the 2012 population census, it lost 29% of its population to migration, despite having just reached 94% coverage of water.

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Death penalty versus castration: A thought experiment

By: Lykke E. Andersen*

Stories about sexual violence against girls and women are common in the Bolivian news, but recently the stories have escalated to such hideous levels that the Vice-President of Bolivia has announced a referendum on whether to re-institute life-in-prison and death penalty in Bolivia (1).

For example, last Sunday, one of the guards of the “Defence of Children and Adolescents” facility in La Paz was caught in fraganti sexually violation two under-age girls who had come to the facility because they had suffered abuse (1).

The day before, a step-father and step-grandfather were jailed in Cochabamba for sexually violating and killing a baby girl, who had not even turned two (2).

A couple of weeks before, the President of the Municipal Council of Tapacarí (Cochabamba) was physically and sexually assaulting one of the female members of the Council, and a friend of the woman was trying to stop the assault when the Mayor arrived. But instead of helping the two women, the Mayor exclaimed “Why haven’t you raped these horny whores yet? Rape them and throw them in the river.” (3)

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Equal pay for unequal work: A gender analysis of productivity at INESAD

By: Lykke E. Andersen*

At INESAD there is no gender discrimination in salaries. But there ought to be. As I will show in this blog, women at INESAD are on average about four times more productive than men.

Admittedly, it is a small sample. We are currently only six senior researchers at INESAD: Two females and four males (we recently lost one female to Panama). Junior researchers come and go, and for administrative and support staff it is difficult to measure productivity, so in this blog I will focus on the productivity of the six current senior researchers who were all salaried staff at INESAD during the last three calendar years (2014-2016). All of them have a Ph.D. in Economics from a foreign university many years ago (except one, who didn’t bother to finish and defend his Ph.D.-thesis, because he (correctly) perceived that it would not add to his earnings potential).

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