Thursday, July 1, 2010

Science on Global Problem Area: Poverty & Equity

Today's seminar on Science on Global Problem Areas focuses on Poverty and Equity. This topic relates specifically to southern Africa and there are many questions and few answers. There are a few strategic research questions and themes presented by HGC, POP and ENE:

Understanding Poverty:
  • Systems analytical approaches to poverty (different dimensions of poverty and their linkages)
  • Implications of population and social dynamics on risk and vulnerabilities
  • Welfare benefits of improved access to basic good, services and technologies
Understanding Equity:
  • Analysing distributions;schemes for allocating scarce resources
  • Impact of drivers of global change on distributions, risks and vulnerabilities
  • Competing normative principles of fairness
Translating to Effective Policy:
  • Circumstances under which policies achieve development goals
  • Translating results from systems models
  • Fairness of setting policy
POP presented a research area that looks at correlation between education and health care as a means to alleviate poverty. This is an interesting question: Can Education help solve poverty?
Africa (and South East Asia) features heavily in the worst end of the scale for mortality across the indices. It is well known (or is it?) that as your education level increases generally your income increases and hence your health. There is literature to back this up that a higher education makes more of a difference than higher income (examples: India, Indonesia) however there are a few countries where this correlation does not hold (example: Cuba). Many WHO survey graphs from 2004 were presented as a motivation but bizarrely South Africa did not show up on a single graph (Infant mortality, Mothers seeking pre-natal care etc). I asked and it seems SA is somewhere in the middle and hence frequently overlooked.

This seminar is especially interesting in light of a Poverty and Equity workshop to be held in South Africa in September. IIASA NMOs are being given an opportunity to listen to developing countries wish-lists. Why then South Africa if its not featured on the graphs? Because South Africa is going to be the nominated voice of the masses (i.e. SADC region). Does this make sense?

Something I have discovered is the POPNET newsletter published by the Population group at IIASA. The picture is from the latest newsletter that population growth to 2050 and the global education levels.

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