2016 Leontief Prize Winners Amit Bhaduri and Diane Elson
"Development & Equity"
On March 10, the Global Development and Environment Institute (GDAE) awarded the 2016 Leontief Prize to Diane Elson and Amit Bhaduri for their work to improve our economic understandings of development, power, gender, and human rights. The ceremony and lectures were held in Ballou Hall on Tufts University's Medford Campus.
GDAE Co-Director Neva Goodwin opened the event by noting that the Prize, named after Wassily Leontief, is awarded for advancing the frontiers of economic thought and supporting just and sustainable societies. She introduced the prizewinners, lauding them for their efforts to expand our understanding of economic systems in the contexts of globalization, growing inequality, and the tilting balance of power from governments to markets."
(Watch Dr. Goodwin's introductions of Dr. Elson and Dr. Bhaduri)
Equity and Development: Through a Gender Lens
Diane Elson, emeritus professor at the University of Essex, spoke about her research on development through a gender lens. She prefaced her talk with the following quote, "Standard macroeconomic policy is not gender neutral. It emphasizes the expansion of market activity and devalues non-market activity. Development measures should be adjusted to account for this." Elson quoted from time-use surveys and research on gender and non-market activity. A man in Buenos Aires spends an average of 89 minutes per day on unpaid work, while a woman spends 256 minutes per day. Adding paid work, men average 422 minutes per day and women 436 minutes per day. In India, the numbers for men and women are 36 and 354, respectively. By Elson’s estimates, putting a monetary value (even just minimum wage) on unpaid work would inflate GDPs by 20-40%. She suggests a system to remedy this situation: Recognize, Reduce, and Redistribute. Recognize unpaid work by incorporating it into GDP. Reduce the imbalance by improving, for example, water infrastructure, which women in developing countries spend disproportionate time and energy gathering. Finally, redistribute unpaid work by offering parental leave for new fathers in addition to new mothers.
Watch Dr. Elson’s lecture | Read Dr. Elson’s lecture
Development & Equity
Amit Bhaduri’s lecture focused on issues of power in economics. He says that current economic curricula teach the subject as "Adam Smith minus Karl Marx." Bhaduri’s work has covered many fields, but his driving force is the question of how people relate to and dominate one another. He calls into question the ideas of the mutual dependence" of labor and capital and "market equilibrium" in an efficient market. He stressed the necessity of equality in order to achieve true mutual dependence, otherwise the mutual nature of the relationship falls apart. There are few cases in which market equilibrium is achieved. Standard economic theory requires that all firms in a market are in perfect competition, and therefore must accept the going rate for selling their goods and services. It is more likely that firms, often using misinformation campaigns, act more as price-setters than price-takers. Bhaduri also spoke on the history of banking regulation in the United States and development and growth strategies in India. Watch Dr. Bhaduri’s lecture | Read Dr. Bhaduri’s lecture
The Tufts’ Department of Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning blog also covered the event.
Watch interviews with Leontief Prize Winners
Amit Bhaduri spoke with GDAE Researcher Timothy A. Wise about the ways in which India exemplifies the frequent contradiction between development and equity, highlighting the government’s fixation on “corporate-led economic growth” and how it leaves out the majority of India’s people.
Diane Elson spoke with GDAE Researcher Brian Roach about accounting for women's unpaid work in GDP, the male bias in economics, and policy responses.
About the Leontief Prize
GDAE inaugurated its economics award in 2000 in memory of Nobel Prize-winning economist and GDAE advisory board member Wassily Leontief. The Leontief Prize for Advancing the Frontiers of Economic Thought recognizes economists whose work, like that of the institute and Leontief himself, combines theoretical and empirical research to promote a more comprehensive understanding of social and environmental processes. The inaugural prizes were awarded in 2000 to John Kenneth Galbraith and Nobel Prize winner Amartya Sen.
GDAE was founded in 1993 with the goal of promoting a better understanding of how societies can pursue their economic and community goals in an environmentally and socially sustainable manner. The Institute develops textbooks and course materials, published on paper and on its web site, that incorporate a broad understanding of social, financial and environmental sustainability. The Institute also carries out policy-relevant research on climate change, the role of the market in environmental policy, and globalization and sustainable development.
In addition to Amartya Sen and John Kenneth Galbraith, GDAE has awarded the Leontief Prize to Paul Streeten, Herman Daly, Alice Amsden, Dani Rodrik, Nancy Folbre, Robert Frank, Richard Nelson, Ha-Joon Chang, Samuel Bowles, Juliet Schor, Jomo Kwame Sundaram, Stephen DeCanio, José Antonio Ocampo, Robert Wade, Bina Agarwal, Daniel Kahneman, Martin Weitzman, Nicholas Stern, Michael Lipton, C. Peter Timmer, Albert O. Hirschman (posthumous), Frances Stewart, Angus Deaton, James K. Galbraith, Duncan Foley, and Lance Taylor.
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