Welfare Economics

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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On Gender Equality in Education

By: Lykke E. Andersen*

According to The World Bank’s World Development Indicators, there are now more or less an equal number of boys and girls enrolled in primary and secondary school around the World. The worldwide Gender Parity Index has been going up steadily over the last several decades, reaching 99 girls for every 100 boys in 2014, and at this rate of change we would have reached parity last year. This is due to dramatic improvements in girls’ enrolment in Africa and Asia. In Latin America and the Caribbean, in contrast, there have been more girls enrolled than boys already since the early 1980s (see Figure 1).

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Where are the poor in Bolivia?

By: Lykke E. Andersen*

Two of the Sustainable Development Goals recently agreed by all the member states of United Nations are to reduce poverty and to reduce inequality, and for those goals to be realized, the incomes of the poorest 40% of the population have to increase. Designing policies to reduce poverty and inequality at the very least requires us to know where to find the target population. In this blog I will argue that they are probably not where you think they would be. Read More »

Energy = Modern Civilization²

By: Lykke E. Andersen*

The World’s most famous equation is undoubtedly Einstein’s E=mc2, and while it stipulates that the total amount of energy in the Universe is constant and cannot be created nor destroyed, only transformed, I will argue that the harnessing of energy for human purposes is what has made the exponential growth of our civilization possible. Read More »

Changing Wealth – Changing Health

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By: Lykke E. Andersen*

Bolivia has recently changed from a low income country to a lower-middle income country, and with that increase in incomes the disease burden has also changed. In 1990, Bolivia’s disease burden was dominated by infectious diseases and maternal health problems (pink group), which is typical of poor countries. By 2013, however, the blue group, which encompasses non-communicable diseases (such as cardiovascular diseases, cancer, diabetes and mental disorders) has become dominant, as it typically is in richer countries (see Figure 1). Read More »

Can you envision a sustainable world? Do you dare to dream today?

By Susana del Granado *

“A vision comes not from the intellect or the mind but from the heart, from the soul”

Donella Meadows

Today, June 5th , we celebrate World Environment Day and, as a celebration, the United Nations Environmental Program has launched a campaign and a contest about “sharing your dream[1]” to move people to imagine a sustainable future and to trigger discussion on the objectives for sustainable development[2].

A vision is a desirable future and, by definition, it is a positive image of what you want to see in the future. Donella Meadows, an environmental scientist and leading author of “The Limits to Growth”, while presenting at an ecological economics conference, inspired and requested her audience to envision a sustainable future. To develop that vision, she asked them to get comfortable, to close their eyes, to take a deep breath, and to dream:[3] Read More »

Father’s Day and teenage pregnancy in Bolivia

Lykke Andersen

By: Lykke E. Andersen*

Fertility rates have been going down all over the World much faster than most people realize. Fertility rates in Bolivia, for example, have come down from 6.5 babies per woman in 1971 to 3.2 in 2013, which is typical of developing countries (1).

This evolution made me suspect that the problem of high teenage pregnancy in Bolivia perhaps has already solved itself, and that I don’t really have to worry about becoming a grandmother anytime soon.

However, a quick look at the latest Bolivian population census (2012) indicates that teenage pregnancy is still very common. Seven percent of all 15 year olds already have a child, and this share increases to a whopping 49 percent for the 20 year olds, many of which already have 3 children (see Table 1).

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Incredible Internet Inequality

Lykke Andersen

By: Lykke E. Andersen & Fabián Soria*

According to the latest Bolivian Population Census (2012), only 9.6% of households have Internet access (either fixed or wireless). Considering that the Bolivian Constitution puts telecommunications (including Internet) on par with water, sanitation and electricity as a basic human right, this coverage is outrageously low.

The main reason for the low coverage is the high cost. Even after nationalizing the telecommunications sector (2008) and investing USD 300 million in our very own telecommunications satellite, Tupac Katari (2013), Internet services in Bolivia remain patchy, expensive and slow compared to other countries in the region. For most Bolivians, having Internet at home is simply unaffordable.

Figure 1 shows that, for an average person in Bolivia, one hour of work would buy less than 1 day of a lousy 1Mbps (Megabits per second) Internet connection, whereas the average person in “developed countries,” such as the Netherlands, South Korea, Denmark, and China could buy several years worth of such a service for just one hour of work.

Figure 1: Internet Purchasing Power (days of 1Mbps Internet service that can be bought for one hour of work), as well as average download speed and average cost per Mbps.

Internet1
Source: Authors’ elaboration based on a survey among Facebook friends (and friends’ friends) during February 2015 Notes: The calculations are rough and based on a very limited number of observations in each country (often just one). Effective download speed was measured by all participants using http://www.speedtest.net/. The average hourly salary is estimated from the Gross National Income per person. Most friends are located in main cities, which may not be representative of the whole country. In some places, free cable TV is included in the price.

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Transforming problems into opportunities by mimicking nature

Lykke Andersen

By: Lykke E. Andersen*

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is about to end its 20th annual conference in Lima, Peru, and heads of state and negotiators from every country on Earth are fighting to get other countries to reduce their CO2 emissions as much as possible, in order to keep global warming below catastrophic levels.

This approach to tackling climate change has, as one might have expected, proven depressingly ineffective. Since the Kyoto Protocol was agreed on in 1997, CO2 emissions have increased steadily, with not the slightest hint of a slow-down. The level of CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere has now reached 400 ppm (parts per million), which is more than ever before observed in the history of Homo Sapiens.

Fortunately, there are lots of creative, constructive and persistent people working on practical solutions for a happier, healthier, greener and more sustainable future. Of the thousands of inspiring, creative and constructive TED talks, I have selected three that focus on transforming our current climate change problems into opportunities by mimicking nature:

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Are married women really the only ones who need family planning?

LisbethVogensenBy: Lisbeth Vogensen*

One common indicator used in many family planning and sexual and reproductive health research documents is that of unmet need for contraception/family planning (see Figure 1). In most cases, this unmet need indicator is followed by this description: percentage of women aged 15 to 49 who are married or in a union (1). Running into this indicator not only makes the feminist inside me stand up in protest, it also lets me know that the information presented on unmet need is incomplete. This unmet need data that only includes women who are married (2) is then generalized to be representative of the entire country/region/world.

Figure 1: Percentage of women with an unmet need for family planning (any method) among those aged 15 to 49 who are married or in a union: most recent data available

mapa_unmetneeds

Source: World Contraceptive Patterns 2013 (United Nations, 2013), available from www.unpopulation.org.

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