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Monday, 25 June 2007

A positive step for our children...

A step in the right direction on the children front. Media reports suggest that the "Government has now ratified the International Labor Organization (ILO) convention 182 on elimination of child labor". But also more importantly the Government is working towards finishing drafting the national child labor policy .

Lets hope this will be subject to wider consultation, but more importantly the draft needs touche on the important issue of street children. You cannot deal with child labour in isolation from other issues.

13 comments:

  1. As you say, cannot be dealt with in isolation. In Bangladesh, under pressure from the USA, child labour was outlawed in the relatively safe garments sector, child labour shifted into the next best option.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/analysis/story/0,,438562,00.html

    Of course this may be a short-run effect, and there may very well be long-run benefits.

    However I prefer policies based on positive incentives rather than reducing choice.

    http://www.ifpri.org/pubs/ib/ib4/ib4_results.asp

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  2. Ha...Its the great man himself.

    What honour!

    Good to hear from you!

    I see you are top of another field of research eh? lol!

    Now we wait for Zebedee's appearance!

    These are exciting links. Enjoyed reading them, especially the Food for School stuff. Incidentally I was not aware of this. How Bangladesh keeps coming up with these brilliant ideas is increadible (may be not surprising :).

    Now the programme needs to be supplemented with something on the teacher attendance side to really make a great difference to education. I was skeptical on whether poor results was due to overcrowding or really poor teacher attendance - which plague the remote parts of the developing world.

    Here is a great start by Duflo et al on the work in Western India
    Monitoring Works: Getting Teachers to Come to School

    It really does show (in the Easterly mode) that simple ideas can make enormous difference on the ground.

    By the way, Its not clear why you have a preference for positive incentives over negative ones. Its a very Amartya Sen libertarian view : more choice = more freedom = more development. For me positive incentives constrain choice as much as negative incentives do!

    But am sure you'll correct me!

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  3. thank you for this post. I will expand on it on my blog because I have a lot to say on this using my leftist views:-)

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  4. Although actually I said I prefer policies base on positive incentives rather than reducing choice, not negative sanctions.

    An expansion of the opportunity set must, unambiguously, increase welfar, or at least mean welfare doesn't reduce. You always have the option of remaing fixed, with both production and consumption as they were originally.

    As for positive versus negative sanctions, both increase the marginal benefit of a specific action. For example we could always tax unemployment (a negative sanction) which would then increase the marginal return to getting back into employment obviously. Increasing the wage rate by an amount equivalent to the tax rate on unemployment has a similar effect.

    On Sen, I always thought "entitlements" was just a fancy name for "endowments".

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  5. Actually, I suppose if there is a cost in evaluation options, then as options increase, the costs of evaluation could lead to a reduction in welfare.

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  6. Manena,

    You are welcome!
    I see you have truly expanded on it :)

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  7. The Great One!

    ”Although actually I said I prefer policies base on positive incentives rather than reducing choice, not negative sanctions.

    Yes, a subtle but important difference!

    I must have missed it, or may be I reinterpreted your point because I failed to get my head round on whether you can have the opposite – “negative incentives that increase choice” [examples from you please?]

    ”An expansion of the opportunity set must, unambiguously, increase welfare, or at least mean welfare doesn't reduce. You always have the option of remain fixed, with both production and consumption as they were originally.”

    Agreed.

    Your caveat is interesting :

    “Actually, I suppose if there is a cost in evaluation options, then as options increase, the costs of evaluation could lead to a reduction in welfare” .

    What are the implications of bounded or ‘weak’ rationality constraints on this one? Presumably that would require that you don’t fully evaluate all of those additional options, only if the marginal benefit exceeds the marginal cost. So looking at the total cost of evaluation may not be necessary? Your wisdom sought again :)


    ”As for positive versus negative sanctions, both increase the marginal benefit of a specific action. For example we could always tax unemployment (a negative sanction) which would then increase the marginal return to getting back into employment obviously. Increasing the wage rate by an amount equivalent to the tax rate on unemployment has a similar effect”.

    Agreed.

    Question:
    In light of this conclusion that positive and negative sanctions can achieve the same effect, are our concerns therefore more about “procedural fairness”? – to borrow the term from Dani Rodrik. We only care whether sanctions are positive or negative because of the way society perceives them?

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  8. A quick comment...some guy called "osama" leaves a post on your blog. You then refer to him as The Great One?

    Expect calls from MI5, MI6, the CIA, Mossad, and whatever the KGB are now called!

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  9. "Presumably that would require that you don’t fully evaluate all of those additional options, only if the marginal benefit exceeds the marginal cost. So looking at the total cost of evaluation may not be necessary?" -Cho

    This certainly appears to be the case in examples like chess. While a "brute force" calculation engine like Deep Blue must expend resources proportionally as options increase, a human player "pre-excludes" the vast majority of options based on their focused perception of their position and goals, right or wrong. Thus the rate of return on increased options is going to be affected by variabilities in individual knowledge of the "rules" and skill at employing options to their greatest advantage.

    I think this is where a bit of the effects of social perception enter the picture for me. Let us employ the example of the equivalency of a fee increase on one division of society to a fee reduction for the inverse division. Due to assymetric information, the clerk who administers the rules is also likely to be the only one who even knows what they are. Thus the clerk may selectively enforce the rules, such that favored customers are permitted to evade the negative incentive fee increase, or avail themselves of the positive incentive fee reduction (of course the opposite will be true if the clerk doesn't like you).

    The interesting bit about this for me is that even though both forms of what might be deemed corruption on the part of clerks have the same nominal cost, in the case of the negative incentive corruption encourages non-participation, while in the positive incentive case corruption enables over-participation. People will try to help their friends avoid negative sanctions and gain access to positive ones. I can't help but feel that somehow that polarity of reaction to social perception can be harnessed in crafting effective incentives.

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  10. Osama,

    Mi6 would be comforted that the "Osama" has been spending his years in hiding exploring economic thought, although if a book emerge say on the "On the Economic Origins of Terrorism" they would be equally worried!!

    Actually talking of education & terrorism...have you ever read this fascinating paper by Krueger and Maleckova - it came out in 2003 in the JEP Education, Poverty and Terrorism : Is there a causal connection?

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  11. Yakima,

    Yes the "brute force" of Deep Blue. In the good old days when I had nothing to distract me my rating was 2200 and always discarded irrelevant alternatives quickly. Now I linger somewhere around 2000. I take it you double in the "deep squares" yourself?

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  12. Chalk up another one for school innovators, PlayPump utilizes childhood exuberence to replace manual labour. :)

    "I take it you double in the "deep squares" yourself? -Cho

    I learned young and used to play a great deal, and while nowhere near as sharp as I used to be, I still enjoy a game from time to time, usually to teach someone enough so that they can at least follow all the chess analogies people use (I have had to do the same thing with poker, american football, and cricket). I never played competitively, so I have no idea how I would have rated. Do you play in some sort of league?

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  13. Yakima,

    The play pump is very interesting.
    Its incredible that someone considered combining water provision with Child's play. Very expansive.

    Yes, I do play for a league. There's a London Civil Service Chess league that I belong to. I have been playing for them for last five years since I joined Government. At my peak when I was doing my A-level education I was the Under 18 Berkshire County Chess champion and played for Southern England a couple of times.

    I have found chess more or less mirrors your life. In both, the key is to find the balance.

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