Poverty and Inequality
1998 - 2003
In October 1998, the Centre began an initial two-year programme on Poverty and Inequality, in association with the MacArthur Network on Poverty and Inequality in Broader Perspectives. In July 1998, a meeting of the MacArthur Network was held at the Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies. Presentations were made by Sudhir Anand (St Catherine’s College, Oxford) on Measuring Inequalities in Health, Stephan Klasen (Ludwig Maximilian Universität, Munich) on Measuring Poverty and Deprivation in South Africa, Jean Drèze (Delhi School of Economics) on Inequality and Development: Himalayan Insights, Mamta Murthi (Centre for History and Economics and Clare Hall, Cambridge) on Analysis of the 1991 Indian Census: Preliminary Results, and Amartya Sen (Trinity College, Cambridge) on Development as Freedom. Stephan Klasen’s paper with Kalpana Bardhan (Berkeley, University of California), on UNDP’s Gender-Related Development Index was published in World Development 27 (1999). In connection with this, Professor Klasen participated as a panellist at the First Global Forum on Human Development in New York, July 1999 where he discussed papers by Sudhir Anand and Amartya Sen, and reviewed the changes to the Human Development Index.
The programme pays special attention to analytical issues in the measurement and evaluation of inequalities, in the context of extensive empirical applications dealing with the United States (especially the hard inequalities that exist across ethnic divisions), India (especially the remarkably sharp regional and inter-district contrasts, and also differential positions of women and men), and South Africa (especially the long-standing racial and locational inequalities inherited from the Apartheid era). The focus is primarily on non-income information (such as mortality, fertility and other demographic variables as well as morbidity and health statistics), and on the analytical technology needed to deal with these variables, which lack the simple measurability of income or wealth data. The empirical work has been concerned with income distribution in the US, and with the relationship between income and health, an area in which there was close collaboration with the MacArthur Network on Health and Socio-economic Status.
Mamta Murthi joined the Centre for History and Economics in connection with this project, working with other members of the Network, in particular Amartya Sen, Angus Deaton (Princeton University), Sudhir Anand, Jean Drèze and Stephan Klasen. Dr Murthi returned to the World Bank in January 2001, and in the same year Ananya Kabir joined the Centre as a Research Fellow in association with this programme.
Over the period October 1998 to December 2000, Dr Murthi worked on two research themes. The first was demographic change and the position of women in India. Her research, partly in collaboration with Jean Drèze, critically evaluated the arguments against a relation between female education and lower fertility. The research, based on an analysis of the district-level data from two recent censuses, makes a strong case for the role of women’s education in lowering fertility. The main findings are outlined in the paper, ‘Fertility, Education and Development: Further Evidence from India’ (with Jean Drèze), which was published in Population and Development Review, March 2001. Dr Murthi’s second area of research evaluated the administrative costs of individual retirement accounts in the UK using a comprehensive database on charges assembled from a range of existing sources. The main findings on costs were summarized in two papers, ‘Administrative Costs under a Decentralized Approach to Individual Accounts: Lessons from the United Kingdom’, and ‘Annuity Margins in the UK’ (both co-authored with J Michael Orszag and Peter R. Orszag). Together the papers point to the high costs of individual accounts in the UK.
Ananya Kabir began research on how the arts can illuminate the relationship between conflict, cultural trauma, identity formation and social exclusion in South Asia. Articles forthcoming in 2003 are: National culture in transnational spaces? On exhibiting and viewing ‘New Indian Art’ at the Manchester Art Gallery, and Allegories of Alienation and Politics of Bargaining: Minority Subjectivities in Mani Ratnam’s Dil Se; essays already published include Witness, Citizen, Artist: Ways of Resisting, ’92- ’02, The Poetics of Dispossession, and Canvassing For Human Security.
In 2000, Stephan Klasen was involved in a research project on under-nutrition and child mortality in South Asia and Africa, and also worked on cross-country comparisons of inequality and welfare. As Professor of Economics at the Ludwig Maximilian Universität in Munich, he produced a discussion paper with Ingrid Woolard (University of Port Elizabeth) on Surviving Unemployment without State Support: Unemployment and Household Formation in South Africa. Professor Klasen’s paper, Measuring Poverty and Deprivation in South Africa, became a Centre for History and Economics working paper in May 2000.
Caroline Humphrey (King’s College, Cambridge) continued her work on social exclusion in Russia, and in 2000 produced a paper entitled Inequality and Exclusion: A Russian Case Study of Emotion in Politics. The paper examines the ways in which social and political anxieties about exclusion in Russia play a part in constructing the inequality they profess only to describe.
A two-day conference on Fertility Changes in Developing Countries was held in May 2000 at King’s College, Cambridge. There were three sessions: Concepts and Empirical Evidence, Fertility in India, and The Global Picture. Participants included Alaka Basu (Cornell University), Jean Drèze, P.N. Mari Bhat (Institute of Economic Growth, Delhi), Tim Dyson (LSE), Roger Jeffery (University of Edinburgh), Naila Kabeer (University of Sussex), Chris Langford (LSE), Mamta Murthi, Siddiq Osmani (University of Ulster) and Amartya Sen. In addition to providing a valuable opportunity to exchange research and research ideas, the workshop produced a rich and diverse set of papers and associated discussions around the major themes. Five of the papers presented at the meeting were accepted for publication in a special issue of World Development: Alaka Basu’s Why Does Education Lower Fertility? A Critical Review of Some Possibilities; P.N. Mari Bhat’s Returning a Favour: The Changing Relationship Between Female Education and Family Size in India; Michel Garenne and Véronique Joseph’s Timing of the Onset of Fertility Decline in Sub-Saharan Africa; Athar Hussain’s Fertility Transition in China and its Implications; and Roger Jeffery and Patricia Jeffery’s ‘We Five, Our Twenty-Five’: Myths of Population Out of Control in Modern India.
David Barker’s hypothesis regarding Foetal Origins of Adult Disease and its possible extensive implications provided the subject matter of a conference organised by the Centre for History and Economics held at Trinity College, Cambridge on 4 July 2001. Participants included David Barker (Environment and Epistemology Unit, Southampton General Hospital), Meghnad Desai (LSE), Richard Jolly (University of Sussex), Michael Marmot (University College, London), Julia Neuberger (The King’s Fund), Siddiq Osmani (University of Ulster), Roger Robinson (British Medical Journal) and Amartya Sen.
In February 1999, Amartya Sen organised the first in the series of three meetings on Unemployment held at Trinity College, Cambridge. The meeting spanned two days and participants included Tony Atkinson (Nuffield College, Oxford), Jean-Paul Fitoussi, Stephan Klasen, Mamta Murthi, Sylvia Nasar (Columbia University), Emma Rothschild and Menachem Yaari (Hebrew University).
The second in this series was held in March 2000. The meeting was divided into three sessions: Economic Aspects, Social Aspects, and Political Aspects. Participants included Rune Åberg (Umeå University), Tony Atkinson, Joakim Palme (Swedish Institute for Social Research), Philippe van Parijs (Université Catholique de Louvain), Edmund Phelps (Columbia University), and Amartya Sen. A website was created dedicated to the issues that emerged from the meeting, providing information about the participants, their papers, comments and additional material.
The third of three meetings on Unemployment and Inequality was held in February 2001 in Trinity College, Cambridge. The main topic for discussion was empirical investigations of inequality and there was also a session on the teaching of economics. Participating were Tony Atkinson, Fabrizio Barca (Ministry of Treasury, Rome), Andrea Brandolini (Bank of Italy Research Department), Jean-Paul Fitoussi (Observatoire Français Conjonctures Économiques (OFCE), Paris), Stephan Klasen (Centre for History and Economics), Mårten Palme (Stockholm School of Economics), and Hans-Joachim Voth (Centre for History and Economics).