The Institute for International Economic Studies (IIES) at Stockholm University is celebrating its 50th anniversary this month.
To celebrate, the IIES held a symposium last week that featured presentations by (all links open .pdf documents):
- Daron Acemoglu on institutions,
- Esther Duflo on policy evaluation,
- Michael Kremer on health,
- Mark Rosenzweig on education,
- Nancy Stokey on health,
- Robert Townsend on credit and insurance, and
- Chris Udry on financial market imperfections,
If you have taken a principles of economics class, you know that everything else equal, an increase in the price of a good means that you can afford less of that good. So if you value a given good, the consequence of an increase in the price of that good is that you are worse off.
It should thus come as no surprise that increases in the price of food are especially bad for the poor in developing countries. (…)
[A]fter attaining a peak during the summer of 2008, food prices started rising rapidly again in the second half of 2010 to hit an all-time high in March of 2011.
Likewise (…) the 2008 and 2011 spikes in food prices coincided with spikes in the number of food riots reported in the news.
But as I constantly remind the students in my development seminar, correlation is not causation, and a key component of critical thinking is the ability to question correlations presented as causal claims. In other words, social unrest may lead to high food prices just as much as the opposite is true.
That’s me in a guest post over at the Woodrow Wilson Center’s New Security Beat blog, in which I explain how I overcome the problem to show that rising food prices most likely cause social unrest.
A work of art can be said to be extraordinary when it can successfully affect your mood. Few songs manage to make me happy every single time I listen to them. This one does. God knows I need it on the very day I enter census category “middle age.”
“Tracy,” by Mogwai: Continue reading →