ItemParticipatory Equity and Economic DevelopmentBasu, Kaushik (2006-11-21T09:56:40Z)The role of a person’s identity and sense of integration into society as instruments of economic development has been vastly underestimated in the literature in economics. We talk of policies to subsidize the poor and give direct support to alleviate poverty. But in the long run, what is critical is that we instill in people a sense of belonging and having certain basic rights as citizens. What the poor and the marginalized in society lack is a sense of “participatory equity.” This paper tries to advance this perspective by building a new model where a person’s community identity matters, ex post, in determining if he or she will be poor, even though (unlike in the Spence model) all persons are identical ex ante. ItemThe global child labor problemBasu, Kaushik (2006-11-21T09:53:39Z)The problem of child labor has moved from a matter of regional and national concern to one of international debate and possible global persuasion and policy intervention. In crafting policy for mitigating this enormous problem of our times, it is important to start with a proper theoretical and empirical understanding of the phenomenon. What gives rise to child labor, and what are its consequences? What interventions might end child labor without hurting children? A well-meaning but poorly designed policy can exacerbate the poverty in which these laboring children live, even leading to starvation. The article surveys the large and rapidly growing literature on this subject, focusing mainly on the new literature based on modern economic theory and econometrics. It also looks at some of the broad policy implications of these new findings, with the objective of contributing to better informed discussion and policy design. ItemSocial norms and the lawBasu, Kaushik (2006-11-21T09:50:45Z)After one eats in a restaurant, that one has to leave a tip is a social norm, and that one has to pay for the food is law. As is evident from this, both norms and the law influence our behaviour. What we say, for instance, can he curtailed by having laws that restrict freedom of speech. But not having such a restrictive law, or having a law or a constitutional requirement - such as the First Amendment in the US - which gives individuals the right to say what they wish or believe in, does not automatically guarantee freedom of speech. Social restrictions can also curtail our freedom. If there is a social norm against a certain opinion or viewpoint or against the explicit mention of certain facts of life, then through the threat of ostracism and other ‘social’ punishments the individual freedom to express a viewpoint or fact can be limited. ItemThe role of norms and law in economics: An essay on political economyBasu, Kaushik (2006-11-21T09:48:38Z)The THREE - HOUR stretch of road between Hazaribagh and Dhanbad in eastern India is as desolate as it is beautiful. One winter evening, some half a dozen years ago, as I was traveling ibis route by taxi to catch a train from Dhanbad to get to Calcutta, 1 was lucky—or, 1 suppose, unlucky, depending on one’s point of view—to be stopped by a road block created by a gang of youngsters wielding lathis' and swords. In front of us, also slopped by the ramshackle road block, was a truck, and some of (he youngsters were talking to the truck driver. From the sight of some distant lanterns I figured that we were close to a village. My taxi driver looked very nervous as lie wailed for the youngsters to come to our ear. He told me that they were hoodlums, collecting illegal money by threatening to beat up passengers and drivers. He asked me not to speak and to leave it all to him. Eventually, a bearded young man walked up to our car regally anti asked me to lower my window glass. He spoke courteously and explained that he was collecting rangdari tax. He had a wad of papers in one hand (the other held a lathi) and he explained that after we paid the money, which, he added firmly, we would have to, he would even give us a receipt. ItemMethodological IndividualismBasu, Kaushik (2006-11-21T09:41:49Z)Methodological individualism - a belief that in explaining social phenomena we should begin from the individual as a unit of analysis - was a matter of debate and controversy a long time ago. Contemporary economists seem to take the view that either the debate is trivial or that methodological individualism is obviously right. This complacency has been shaken and interest in this subject has recently been revived by the publication of some new books and papers. This essay examines the new debate, argues that mainstream economists, knowingly or unknowingly, do use concepts •which are irreducibly social and defends a particular aspect of individualism. The paper ends by drawing attention to a paradoxical observation concerning normative judgments and methodological individualism. ItemIsolated and proximate illiteracyBasu, Kaushik (2006-11-21T09:26:31Z)Traditionally, a society’s literacy has been measured by the ‘literacy rate’ or the per cent of the adult population that is literate. The present paper maintains that the. distribution of . literates across households also matters, due to the external effects of literacy - the benefits that illiterate members of a household derive from having a literate person in the family. The authors review this argument, draw out its policy implications, and present some suggestive data from Bangladesh to lend substance to the hypothesis that an illiterate belonging to a household with no literates is more deprived than an illiterate belonging to a household with at least one literate member.