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A Checklist for Development Economics

What medical strategies can economists apply to repair developing world economies?

July 6, 2005

What medical strategies can economists apply to repair developing world economies?

I. Poverty Trap
Poverty mapping using household surveys and other data
Proportion of households lacking basic needs
Spatial distribution of household property
– Rural, urban
– Concentrated in a few regions vs. evenly spread
Spatial distribution of basic infrastructure
Ethnic, gender, generational distribution of poverty
Key risk factors
– Demographic trends, environmental trends, climate shocks, disease, commodity price fluctuations, others
II. Economic Policy Framework
Business environment
Trade policy
Investment policy
Human capital
– Nutrition, public health, disease control, education, family planning
III. Fiscal Framework and Fiscal Trap
Public sector revenues and expenditures by category

– Absolute levels in comparison with international norms, percent of GNP

Tax administration and expenditure management
Public investment needs to meet poverty reduction targets
Macroeconomic instability
Overhang of public sector debt
Quasi-fiscal debt and hidden debt
– Central bank debt
Medium-term public sector expenditure framework
IV. Physical Geography
Transport conditions
– Proximity to ports, trade routes, navigable waterways, access to paved roads and motorized transport
Population density
– Costs of power connectivity, telecoms and roads, arable land per capita, environmental impacts of population-land ratios
Agronomic conditions
– Temperature, precipitation, solar insolation, length and reliability of growing season, soils, topography, suitability for irrigation, interannual climate variability, long-term trends in climate patterns
Disease ecology
– Human, plant and animal diseases
V. Governance Patterns and Failures
Civil and political rights
Public management systems
Decentralization and fiscal federalism
Corruption patterns and intensity
Political succession and longevity
Internal violence and security
Cross-border violence and security
Ethnic, religious,and other cultural divisions
VI. Cultural Barriers
Gender relations
– Discrimination against women and girls
Ethnic and religious divisions
– Role in investment, remittances, social networking
VII. Geopolitics
International security relations
Cross-border security threats
– War, terrorism, refugees
International sanctions
Trade barriers
– Developed-world tariffs and subsidies that impede development
Participation in regional and international groups

The checklist is long. Answers to these questions cannot be ascertained in a 15-minute checkup at a clinic, nor, in practice, can they be addressed by a single international agency like the IMF.

The answers must be systematic, continually updated and put into a comparative framework for sound analysis. Many institutions

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