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Regular version of the site

The Importance of a Good Diagnosis

On April 1-4, 2014 in Moscow, the HSE with support of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund organizes the XV April International Academic Conference on Economic and Social Development. The Conference Programme Committee is chaired by Professor Evgeny Yasin.

Professor Sebastian Galiani
Professor Sebastian Galiani
Sebastian Galiani, Professor of Economics at the University of Maryland and Visiting Professor at Universidad de San Andres, Argentina, will deliver a public lecture at the  Conference. Before it gets underway next week, the HSE News Service conducted this brief interview with Professor Galiani.

― Will this be your first lecture at the HSE-Moscow? How did you get involved in the April Conference?

― I once gave a lecture on property rights at a conference organized at the HSE by Professor Sonin. This time I was kindly invited by Professor Yasin.

― Are the problems of inequality and poverty the same all over the world? To what extent are these economic problems, and to what extent are they social?

― There are commonalities and differences across regions — and even within regions — in terms of both the causes and consequences of poverty and inequality. Just to give an obvious example, large differences exist between the rural and urban poor. Obvious economic reasons are at the root of the cause of both phenomenon, but important behavioral aspects also contribute to their perpetuation, ceteris paribus. Poverty, obviously, varies much across the development ladder of countries.

― How important is economic growth to reduce poverty?

― In the long run, economic growth is a powerful instrument for reducing absolute poverty. Since 1820, the world’s extreme poverty rate has decreased from 85% to below 20%. In Latin America, Chile is an impressive success story in terms of poverty reduction. However, growth is not always so effective in reducing poverty, at least in the short and medium terms. In the U.S., poverty plummeted during the early 60s, which was a period of rapid economic growth. It has remained relatively stable since then, even though the U.S. economy has continued to grow and has, in fact, expanded quite swiftly since the late 1980s. This change in trend is mainly accounted for by the increase in income inequality that has taken place during this latter period.

― Inequality affects the extent to which growth affects poverty. Does it also affect economic growth?

― Inequality, per se, may also be detrimental for economic growth. When markets are missing or imperfect, the distribution of wealth and power affects the allocation of investment opportunities and, thus, detracts from the economy’s efficiency. Additionally, high levels of economic and political inequality tend to give rise to economic and political institutions that systematically favor the interests of the most influential groups.

 ― From what you have learned working in Latin America, do you think there are solutions to the problems of poverty and inequality that can be applied to Russia?

― Certainly, there are important lessons that we can gather from recent research, especially experimental research. We are learning much about how to better affect incentives and also about policies that work and policies that do not work as well as expected. A large part of that research is conducted in Africa and South Asia, though.

Latin America is a highly unequal region. Poverty is concentrated among informal workers, which makes redistribution more difficult. Therefore, there, the efforts have been directed at finding cost-effective policies targeted to poor households. The aim was mainly that of building up the present and future income-generation capacity of the poor. Governments have relied heavily on Conditional Cash Transfers. These instruments are useful to alleviate poverty in the short-run, and have also shown some effectiveness at inducing human capital accumulation. However, other interventions are shown to be much more effective to achieve the second objective. It is important first to have a good diagnostic of what are the problems and constraints and then to evaluate the proposed solutions.

― Would you give us an example of an intervention that seems to work and that could be relevant in Russia.

― A large body of research, both experimental and quasi-experimental, now exists that shows that early childhood interventions are cost-effective. That seems an obvious area where some of the efforts in Russia could be focused, given its level of development.  

Anna Chernyakhovskaya, specially for the HSE news service

See also:

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Unfit: Why Seniors Don’t Care about Their Health

Seniors in Russia are not responsive to public promotion of healthy living. Their behaviours follow eight different patterns, and a healthy lifestyle is far from being the most popular one. Only 17% of elderly people live what can be termed a 'healthy' lifestyle, Elena Selezneva discovered. The results of the study were presented at the XIX April International Academic Conference on Economic and Social Development at HSE.

The Keepers of the Ruble

Post-Soviet life and the economic ups and downs of recent years have changed the attitude of Russians towards saving. Now, it is not the less fortunate who save, but the more intelligent, according to Elena Berdysheva and Regina Romanova. Or, more to the point, it’s the more intelligent women: domestic finances are usually dealt with by females. At HSE’s recent XIX April International Academic Conference, researchers explained how Russians adjusted and optimized family budgets following the crisis of 2014-2017 and how this relates to gender issues.

‘The Biggest Priority in Education Is World Class Professional Development Programmes’

The report entitled ‘Twelve Solutions for New Education’, prepared by the Higher School of Economics and the Centre for Strategic Development, was presented at the XIX April International Academic Conference. Professors Martin Carnoy and Tomasso Agasisti, international experts on education and conference guests, have shared their views on the issues and initiatives highlighted in the report.

How Are Russian Cities Different from Western Cities?

One of the roundtables held during the XIX April Academic Conference featured a discussion of the report on morphology of Russian cities presented by Robert Buckley, Senior Fellow in the Graduate Program in International Affairs at The New School, US. The report looked at what Russian cities look like in terms of population density, how the patterns Russian cities exhibit compare with those of other cities around the world, and what individual behaviours might have contributed to the appearance of a certain pattern.

Marx’s Capital Was a Work in Progress

The notion that Karl Marx's works have been studied inside and out is fundamentally incorrect. The huge body of his manuscripts has still not been completely processed, and his seminal work, Capital, was only recently published with the final edits of the author. The 19th April Conference at the Higher School of Economics included the section ‘Methodology of Economic Science’ which was devoted to the work of the German philosopher and political scientist. Independent researcher and professor from Berlin, Thomas Kuczynski, gave a presentation at the conference which pointed out numerous aspects of Marx’s continuous rethinking of allegedly fixed truths.

Russia’s Economic and Social Development Depends on How It Responds to Technological Challenges

During a plenary session of the HSE XIX April International Academic Conference, participants discussed the technological future of the Russian economy and how it relates to objectives such as speeding up economic growth and improving the quality of life.

Digital Humanities: A God of Many Faces

These days, no scientific research is carried out without the use of digital media for the production or dissemination of knowledge. The term ‘Digital Humanities’ reflects this process and constitutes a scientific field where humanists not only aim to use a certain software, but also to understand research using quantitative semantics. However, digital infrastructures are not the same globally. In her talk at the HSE April International Academic Conference Dr Gimena del Rio Riande addressed various issues that arise in connection with digital humanities.

We Must Reconsider the Government’s Role in the Economy

Slower GDP growth rates over the last several years were brought about by changes on international markets and the exhaustion of transformational bonuses due to the transition from a planned economy to a market economy, and this slowdown proves the necessity of looking for new solutions for stimulating the economy. The authors of the paper ‘Structural Changes in the Russian Economy and Structural Policy’ conducted a large-scale analysis on structural policy in Russia and around the world, as well as on possible ways for this policy to develop further. The first presentation of the paper took place as part of the plenary session called ‘Structural Policy in Russia: New Conditions and a Possible Agenda,’ which closed out HSE’s XIX April International Academic Conference.

HSE Hosts Russian National Award in Applied Economics

The winner of the 2018 award is Ina Ganguli, Professor at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. The American researcher stood out for her series of articles analysing the productivity of Russian scientists in the 1990s, as well as their decisions concerning emigration and the impact that emigration had on the diffusion of Russian science in the United States.