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A Blog about Public and Development Economics

Child Mortality Rates Fall Worldwide

The Economist reports that, according to a report published by Unicef, mortality rates for children under five years old have declined throughout the world, including in most major regions and in countries with little development to full industrialization. The Economist writes:

The child mortality rate—the number of under-fives dying per thousand live births—declined from 90 in 1990 to 65 in 2008, a drop of over a quarter. The number of deaths has fallen from 12.5m in 1990 to 8.8m last year, the lowest since records began in 1960. The biggest improvements are in Latin America and the former Soviet Union, where mortality rates have fallen by more than half. Progress in sub-Saharan Africa, which now accounts for half of all deaths, has been slower, but Niger, Malawi, Mozambique and Ethiopia have seen reductions of more than 100 per 1,000 livebirths since 1990. The report notes that despite big improvements in preventing malaria, one of the three main causes of deaths, much more needs to be done to treat the other two causes, pneumonia and diarrhoea.

Falling Child Mortality Rates (via The Economist)

Falling Child Mortality Rates (via The Economist)

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Filed under: Development Economics, Health Care, Public Economics

As California’s Finances Go, So Do Programs for the Less Fortunate

The Economist has a good summary of California’s financial distress and what it means in real terms. In essence, Californians have been voting their way to more and more spending funded by greater borrowing. Triggered by the recession, that debt has become unmanageable, and California has started losing its good credit rating. At the same time, California is reluctant to increase taxes to help ease the shortfall. That leaves viable only one option to mitigate the fiscal mess—cutting back social programs. The article reads:

The largest part of the budget, and thus the biggest target for cuts, is education. Mr Schwarzenegger has proposed suspending a spending formula that voters explicitly chose at the ballot box. In response, the powerful teachers’ union sent a gesture, in the form of 10,000 protesting postcards, to one of Mr Schwarzenegger’s branch offices. But teachers and schools will suffer, which hurts children and thus parents.

The next largest part of the budget is the state’s social safety net, including its health-care programme for the poor. Mr Schwarzenegger wanted to eliminate entire programmes wholesale, but now appears ready to settle for shrinking them. The debate, such as it is, is now about how many children will lose coverage, how many elderly Alzheimer’s patients will stop receiving visits from nurses, whether to treat drug addicts and so forth.

The pain thus seems likely to flow to the bottom of the social hierarchy. But all Californians will notice. Their parks may close, their neighbourhoods may become less safe.

Filed under: Fiscal Policy, Health Care, Public Economics

Hello world!

This is the maiden post on Econ for Progress. I hope you enjoy reading about public and development economics and join the discourse. I welcome any suggestions on improving this blog and its content. –Sergio

Filed under: Academic Papers, Development Economics, Environment, Fiscal Policy, Health Care, Labor Economics, Monetary Policy, Public Economics, Uncategorized