Weekly Roundup – Women are THE ‘emerging market’
Of all the many wonderful takes on International Women’s Day, to be celebrated Sunday, we like the one espoused by Jeni Klugman and Purnima Mane in the Chicago Sun Times.
“One could argue that women are the world’s largest ‘emerging market,’ with purchasing power valued at $6 trillion over the next five years,” they wrote. “Investing in reproductive health for women and girls creates boundless economic opportunities for them and translates into stronger, healthier and more prosperous families, communities and countries.”
Klugman and Mane cited the work of Danish economist Bjorn Lomborg and his Post-2015 Consensus, as reported in The Economist: “Providing contraception and other reproductive-health services to all who want them would cost $3.6 billion a year, according to Mr. Lomborg’s researchers, yet generate annual benefits of $432 billion, $120 per dollar spent.”
Those are impressive statistics that inspire hope, to be sure. Then again, much more hope is needed, when faced with a lot of other facts that prove the need to expand International Women’s Day to a year-long event. (Incidently, this sentiment also was acutely argued by Chase Behringer and Shivani Garg Patel in a NextBillion post on Friday: Go-Girl Marketing: Show Me The Impact?: Why companies should invest in maternal health, not just slogans.)
But we do appreciate learning a new way to look at the term “emerging market.”
Success follows entrepreneurial spirit
“The more aid given to developing countries, the better off they’ll be.”
That’s not necessarily true, as we’ve long argued (and, we believe, proven) here at NextBillion. But it’s a lesson that needs to be relearned periodically, as it was this week.
Nick Chiles, writing in Atlanta Blackstar, set the stage: “Over the past 60 years, at least $1 trillion of development-related aid has been transferred from rich countries to Africa, but the per-capita income on the continent today is lower than it was in the 1970s. The number of people living on less than a dollar a day, currently more than 50 percent of the population (more than 350 million people), has nearly doubled in two decades.”
Countless articles and books have been written about how simply giving development aid to African nations can lead to corruption and conflict and stifle entrepreneurship. Nevertheless, Chiles writes, “No serious efforts have been made to wean Africa off this debilitating drug.”
He’s right. Economia this week ran a piece entitled “Are there better ways to solve global poverty than aid?” which states, “Development assistance budgets in rich nations rose to a record $135 billion (£88bn) in 2013, a surge of 6 percent. Five countries now meet the iconic 0.7 percent of GDP aid target set by the United Nations in the 1970s. The UK government has even planned to enshrine that aid pledge in law, protecting it from future austerity.”
In that same article, George Ingram, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and a former U.S. government aid official, says, “The 0.7 percent has become a talisman. Aid is important. But the bigger impact comes from a nation’s stance on trade, finance and immigration.”
Examples are noted:
• Immigrants from poor nations, when they land jobs in richer countries, send more money back home – by a factor of four – than the total of official development aid in 2013. Yet wealthy nations continually tighten immigration rules.
• Norway is, per capita, the world’s most generous large nation, yet has high tariffs on agricultural imports, which serves to limit poor nations’ ability to sell staple goods.
• And Switzerland, also a heavy aid-giver, has banking secrecy rules which enable corrupt officials in poor nations.
Leni Wild, lead author of a research document published by the UK’s Overseas Development Institute, summed it up: “The most successful efforts tend to be entrepreneurial in spirit. That means testing a variety of approaches to see what works rather than having a rigid plan from the start. It is essential to allow for cycles of doing, failing, adapting, learning and eventually getting better results. … Change is best directed by the people who are closest to the problem and who have the greatest stake in the solution.”