FAO Quotables

"But being right, even morally right, isn't everything. It is also important to be competent, to be consistent, and to be knowledgeable. It's important for your soldiers and diplomats to speak the language of the people you want to influence. It's important to understand the ethnic and tribal divisions of the place you hope to assist."
-Anne Applebaum

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

On the fallacies of the $2 a day argument: 90% of Madagascar lives on $2 day

On the fallacies of the $2 a day argument: 90% of Madagascar lives on $2 day

There' a dearth of well-written academic articles on Madagascar so I am always eager to pass on any that I find.  This post includes two such articles.  The first one talks about the source of Madagascar's economic woes and references the second article--actually a paper--about the influence of census efforts (or lack of efforts) in Madagascar on the political and economic landscape.  The second one is written in French (and posted below)--once I write out the translation I will post it here.

   Anyway, the title of the article "90% of Madagascar Lives on Less Than Two Dollars a Day" is a little misleading because that's not really the point of the article.  The Global Voices Online Website publishes has a great bullpen of independent writers and they also have people who translate articles into other languages.  In this case, the title of the original French article was called "The Causes of Economic Decline in Madagascar."

    This whole idea of measuring and evaluating a country's economy by how many dollars a day its people live on is deeply flawed--namely when it comes to evaluating states whose populations are largely subsistence farmers.  A subsistence farmers $2 a day is much better off (in reality) than a country with a large urban population.

     But that point is just an aside--a pet peeve of mine.  The article itself is great look at some possible causes for Madagascar economic lethargy and struggles--although I wish it delved deeper into the deleterious effects of the revolutionary socialist policies under Ratsiraka.  The best part about the article, though, was that I found a Madagascar research facebook group through reading the article!  This has turned out to be a cool academic resource and you should check it out!  The article also has some links to some other useful sources.



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