HelpAge Zimbabwe Supports the Elderly

HelpAge Zimbabwe pic
HelpAge Zimbabwe
Image: helpagezim.org

Economist Philip H. Brown has conducted extensive research on the economies of Africa, China, and Chile, as well as areas closer to home, in an effort to address various social issues. Philip H. Brown previously served as a project associate for HelpAge Zimbabwe in an effort to support Zimbabwe’s older community.

HelpAge Zimbabwe is a branch of HelpAge International, whose African headquarters are located in Nairobi, Kenya. A charitable organization, HelpAge Zimbabwe supports seniors in that country, with the ultimate goal of increasing both the standard of living and the quality of health care for older adults, regardless of their religion, gender, color, or financial condition

HelpAge Zimbabwe also promotes the self-sufficiency of the older population in Zimbabwe via training and community-based initiatives focused on food security and income generation. The training also involves teaching such skills as finding sources of clean water and maintaining personal health, while the community-based initiatives also involve building or restoring housing and shelter.

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Emissions Trading – A Brief Overview

Economist Philip H. Brown focuses the majority of his work in the areas of health, education, poverty, inequality, and the environment. As a developmental economist interested in the environment, Philip H. Brown examines the effects of various environmental policy instruments, including emissions trading.

Emissions trading, a market-based tool for managing greenhouse gas emissions, puts a price on air pollution and provides economic incentives for companies that work to reduce it. Under the most common type of emissions trading plan, a government agency or other organization sets a cap on allowable emissions and then allocates emissions permits that total the cap.

Participating companies that lack sufficient permits to cover their emissions must either work to reduce them or purchase additional permits from a company that has more credits than it needs. This type of system rewards efficiency and creates an incentive for companies to reduce their emissions, with the bonus of cutting operations costs and profiting from selling surplus permits to other participating entities.

Policy Approaches to Climate Change

Economist Philip H. Brown studies developing economies, identifying sources of poverty and ways to reduce it. A Ph.D. recipient from the University of Michigan, Philip H. Brown’s professional interests cover a broad range of topics, including global food prices, wind power, cost-benefit analysis, emissions trading plans, and dealing with climate change.

While advocates on both sides of the issue continue to argue passionately about the impact of human activity on climate change, policymakers must consider what steps to take, if any, with respect to the phenomenon. Significant areas of policy response to climate change include mitigation strategies, adaptation policies, and bioengineering.

Mitigation policies are designed to reduce or eliminate the discharge of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. In addition to regulating factory, automobile, and other emissions, mitigation activities include the development of renewable energy sources, increasing energy efficiency, and developing low-emission urban systems, among other approaches. Mitigation also includes changing consumer behavior as well as the way resources are managed.

Adaptation policy objectives are to help the population deal with consequences of climate change such as rising sea levels, extreme weather patterns, and ocean acidification. Example strategies include building flood defenses, employing environmentally responsible forestry practices, and developing crops that can tolerate the greater ranges of weather extremes.

A third approach under consideration is geoengineering, which involves direct intervention in the planetary energy balance. This is a relatively new strategy, and involves massive manipulation of the global environment. Examples of geoengineering include such techniques as dispersing particles into the atmosphere to “whiten” clouds and thus make them more reflective of the sun’s rays, increasing the iron content of seawater to encourage the development of plankton, seeding clouds to force rainfall, and genetically engineering crops to make them better reflect sunlight.

Helping the Poor – Development Economics

A graduate of the School for International Training, development economist Philip H. Brown dedicated his life to helping poor people while working in a camp for Rwandan refugees. Due in part to his time spent in a conflict-stricken area of Tanzania, Philip H. Brown decided to focus his research on poverty, instead of wealth, as a development economist.

First, there is no one school of thought for development economists to follow. Because each situation comes with its own set of conditions that contribute to economic progress or decline, every situation must be evaluated independently. The one constant is the idea that economics is about more than just money.

Second, development economists are concerned not with studying wealth but with studying and enacting real-world efforts to improve the lives of disadvantaged people. This means that instead of focusing solely on the economy of a country or area, larger factors such as societal structures that reinforce or disrupt the norm and political policies are considered.

Philip H. Brown Discusses Microlending

Over the past several years microlending has grown in popularity as a tool used throughout the world, particularly in developing countries, for creating employment and building businesses. In 2006, Muhammad Yunus and the Grameen Bank were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for their microlending efforts in communities throughout Bangladesh.

Microlending provides small loans to individuals who are economically disadvantaged and lack the collateral or credit necessary to secure traditional financing. Microlending operates under the theory that individuals in developing countries have vital skills they can use to operate their own businesses if they have startup capital to launch. For example, an individual may be able to purchase livestock for farming. If the farming operation is successful, the individual not only repays the loan but adds to the local economy through the growth of the operation. Microlending has been particularly popular in developing nations because of the small amounts of the loans involved, sometimes as little as $20. Additionally, microlending has been seen as a way to empower women in developing countries by financing their small business ventures.

Although microlending has increased in popularity, there is disagreement as to whether the practice noticeably improves conditions in developing areas. Thus, the impact remains a point of contention among economists.

Philip H. Brown is a development economist whose studies include health, education, gender, equality, and poverty. He has worked in China, Central America, Africa, and Chile, and his work has been discussed in Time, The New York Times, and on National Public Radio.

Social Factors that Influence Poverty

Philip H. Brown, an economist who has studied poverty in the international sense extensively, has given several lectures on the topic, and is also highly educated on the socioeconomic factors at play in areas such as China and Chile. Several issues influence poverty on a worldwide scale, and this article will list some of those factors, many of which have been studied by Philip H. Brown.

1. Ineffective government policies. When social policies, including those meant to curb violence, increase public health, and provide educational opportunities for children and adults, favor those in the middle and upper classes, those in the lower class are left to fend for themselves.

2. Inadequate responsibility on behalf of the individual. Though many people living at or below the poverty line are a product of the social and political environment around them, the ability to take responsibility for one’s life and do the best one can with what one has can give a person living in poverty opportunities that would never have been found otherwise. Even so, sometimes, few to no opportunities are evident.

3. Exploitative acts by those in power and by business leaders. The inequality between individuals living in poverty and those who are well-to-do is constantly shifting and growing. Part of this is because of the lack of progressive changes made in the business world, and the acceptance of discriminatory or exploitative policies.

Exploring Media-defined Limits to Altruism by Philip H. Brown

I admire the unconventional and engaging approach to everyday economics undertaken by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner in their Freakonomics books and long-running associated blog. One of the Freakonomics articles I found most personally engaging was How Pure Is Your Altruism?, which was written in May 2008 following two major natural disasters – a devastating earthquake in China and a large cyclone in Myanmar. The article commented on the uneven distribution of individual American charitable giving following major natural disasters. For example, Hurricane Katrina, which resulted in 1,877deaths, brought in a total of $5.3 billion in individual donations from in the U.S. In contrast, the Asian tsunami of 2004 resulted in an estimated 220,000 deaths and brought in less than $2 billion in donations from Americans. Similarly, the 2005 Pakistan earthquake, which resulted in nearly 75,000 deaths, attracted only $150 million in individual U.S. contributions.

Certainly, the fact that Hurricane Katrina was an American disaster, hence closer to home, accounts for much of this difference. However, Levitt and Dubner identify two other factors in explaining low levels of donations, particularly following the Pakistan earthquake: donor fatigue after other high profile natural events and lack of media coverage. In exploring the latter phenomena, the authors excerpted a paragraph from my co-paper “Media Coverage and Charitable Giving After the 2004 Tsunami.” In sum, my paper shows that levels of media coverage following natural disasters have a significant impact on charitable donations made by Americans. Specifically, my co-author and I calculate that each additional minute of nightly television news coverage of a natural disaster results in a 13 percent increase in average donations on that same day. Similarly, each additional 700-word story in the Wall Street Journal or New York Times raises daily average donations by nearly 20 percent.
A sensible question, then, is “what causes certain natural disasters to receive extended coverage, while others are quickly forgotten?” One explanation is that level of media coverage is highly dependent on the occurrence’s distance from major media outlets and resources. Remoteness entails extra expenses in covering the natural disaster. Another significant factor is news cycle timing: both the China and Myanmar disasters occurred at a time when the U.S. Democratic primary between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton was heating up, diminishing their media impact.

It seems to me that there are a multitude of opportunities for further research into the links between charitable contributions following natural disasters and the media. For example, given our shift to digital news, and a corresponding diffusion of news sources, it is unclear whether the results of our 2004 study apply to the same degree. I would argue that they do: even on the Internet, most readers never make it past the first page of the online edition of the New York Times, and YouTube video searches often follow reading about a disaster from a primary news source.

About the author: Development economist Philip H. Brown has authored numerous articles on issues such as poverty, vulnerability, natural disasters, and health and environmental economics. The referenced Freakonomics article can be accessed at http://www.freakonomics.com/2008/05/13/how-pure-is-your-altruism/. Phil Brown’s other papers may be accessed at http://www.philbrown.me.