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Policy Lessons for Our Economic Future

Paper Session

Friday, Jan. 3, 2020 8:00 AM - 10:00 AM (PST)

Manchester Grand Hyatt, Cove
Hosted By: Association for Social Economics & Association for Evolutionary Economics
  • Chair: Giuseppe Fontana, University of Leeds and University of Sannio

Does Financial Inclusion Reduce Poverty? The Perception of the Poor in Brazil

Thereza Balliester Reis
,
University of Leeds

Abstract

The World Bank announced the goal of including all men and women into the formal financial system by 2020. However, empirical evidence that such financial inclusion (FI) can reduce poverty is scarce. This paper contributes to the recent debate on FI by providing empirical evidence on the link between FI and poverty. Based on semi-structured interviews of 30 participants in urban and rural areas in Brazil, this qualitative study analyses the perceptions and needs of poor individuals with respect to the access and usage of the formal financial system. The paper contributes to social economics in two aspects. First, it focuses on individuals’ views on FI instead of relying solely on macroeconomic variables and theoretical models. Second, it takes into account the role of public services, including public banks, and formal employment on the level of individual's FI. Results suggest that although FI may help individuals to better organize their finances, it is often not a priority for those deprived of basic services such as health care, education and housing. Moreover, with exceptionally high interest rates, which can reach 500% on overdrafts, FI can also lead to over-indebtedness, leading individuals to state that FI may increase poverty. Overall, the results cast doubt on the supposed effectiveness of FI in reducing poverty.

Have Labor Market Reforms Led to More Efficient Labor Markets?

Jesus Ferreiro
,
University of the Basque Country
Carmen Gomez
,
University of the Basque Country

Abstract

Since the eighties most European countries have approved labour market reforms with the aim of enhancing the flexibility in the labour markets, mainly in the fields of hiring and firing workers, and, thus, reducing the rigidities in the labour markets, and thus accelerating the employment creation process. However, the evidence of this positive impact on labour markets of a higher flexibility in the labour markets is far from conclusive. Focusing our analysis on the experiences of the European Union, in general, and the Spanish labour market, in particular, we will analyse the impact of these reforms on the employment and unemployment rates figures. Besides showing that this impact has been nil, we will see that more flexible labour markets have also generated a number of significant negative social and economic consequences, like, an increase in the precariousness in the labour market, an excessive size of temporary and part-time employment, a rise of the in-job poverty, a rise in income distribution inequality, a fall in rate of births, etc. All these effects have had a negative impact on the welfare but also on the economic activity. In sum, labours marker reforms have led to more inegalitarian societies and to less efficient labour markets.

Conditions for a Sustainable Financial Structure for the Development Process: Lessons from the 2007-2008 Global Turmoil

Gaëlle Despierre Corporon
,
University of Grenoble Alpes

Abstract

This study questions the traditional approach to financing development and examines the consequences of the 2007-2008 global financial crisis on Official Development Assistance (ODA) and Foreign Direct Investments (FDI) flows to Developing Countries (DCs). It demonstrates how the increase of South-South FDI flows helped alleviate DCs reliance on advanced economies to finance their development processes. It finds that ODA remains a non-reliable tool, whether in times of economic stability or in turmoil and advances that DCs should not rely on ODA to engage in a long-term sustainable development financing process. The study reveals that traditional approaches to financing development, and their reliance on unstable financial markets, are not compatible with a sustainable financial structure for development.

Key words: Development financing, global financial crisis, official development assistance, South-South foreign direct investments, sustainable financial structure.

Subject classification codes: F30-F53-O19-O20

Economics of Artificial Intelligence and Integral Human Development

Charles M.A. Clark
,
St. John’s University
Aleksandr V. Gevorkyan
,
St. John’s University

Abstract

This paper explores the economics of artificial intelligence (AI). The polarization of the debate about AI pulls in two mutually exclusive directions of either complete takeover of future jobs by omnipotent algorithms or an absolute bliss with robots at work while humans reap the benefits of endless vacation. The literature, from Smith to Keynes and beyond, offers some initial methodological guidance. Still, the true social and economic implications of AI-type environment in production and labor markets are yet to be fully understood. This paper argues that neither of the predictions are realistic as of today. Instead, the global economy may just be passing through another phase of technological change, similar to those experienced before. And while a nuanced balance is emerging with emphasis on human skills in future employment, the benefits may not be equitably distributed as equality of opportunities for human development may not be reachable, though visible, in the AI driven society. Hence, as firms seek efficiency gains, much weight is shifted onto the governments and quasi-private entities in maintaining sustainable decent living standards. The paper reviews various popular and advances new public policy measures aimed at tackling some of the immediate fears of automation.

Degrowth: An Activist Slogan and Social Movement in Search of an Economic Theory?

Giuseppe Fontana
,
University of Leeds and University of Sannio
Malcolm Sawyer
,
University of Leeds

Abstract

The macro-economic analysis of slower growth (of GDP or similar indicators) has recently taken increasing relevance for two rather different reasons. The first reason is motivated by the recent experiences of growth in industrialised economies, which was slower than that recorded earlier in the post-war period, together with the projection of slower growth into the future. The second and possibly more important reason for the increasing relevance of the macro-economic analysis of slower (or even negative) growth comes from ecological and environmental concerns. These concerns question the sustainability of the pace of economic growth through the impacts on the ecological footprint, carbon use and climate change, and call for slower growth to address these environmental concerns.
The academic literature on degrowth has grown dramatically in the last five to ten years. However, for all progress made, there are still many basic questions left answered. What are the objectives of the degrowth movement? Does degrowth refer to a decline in GDP, or does it refer to the decline in the use of resources and damage to the environment? In the context of GDP, it would have to be recognized that with degrowth the required capital stock would decline, and as such net investment would be negative. How would such a position be achieved, and what are the consequences for savings? How would research and development, including medical research, be regarded, and in a similar vein the continuing results for productivity of ‘learning by doing’ (even if at a rather slow pace)? Furthermore, what are seen as the drivers of growth? Is it the capitalist pursuit of profits or human drives to ‘improve’ material well-being? This paper explore the available literature with the goal of answering these questions.
JEL Classifications
  • B5 - Current Heterodox Approaches