Monday, November 15, 2010

Fuel Taxes in Costa Rica

Tomorrow, we will discuss this paper.

As a reminder - we will not discuss the chapter from the text.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

What do we know about growth?

Dani Rodrik at Harvard has some ideas - many of them might be surprising.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Student Microfinance Club

Hey all, I am Cailin Slattery, one of the directors of the General Development Initiative, a student microfinance club on campus! Last night we had our first meeting, and for all those who were there, here is the link to the article I mentioned: India calls on lenders to cut rates for the poor .

Thanks for coming to the recruitment meeting last night! I put the folder for applications on the Commons 116 bookshelf this morning, please hand those in by Friday!

If you missed the meeting but are still interested email me at !

I am going to create a new blog to avoid confusion between the Development class and the club, but I wanted to make this initial post to get the information out there!


Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Give the money to Mom!!!

Does it matter who holds the purse strings? Seth R. Gitter and Bradford L. Barham offer some compelling evidence.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Economic Lives of the Poor

What do we know about the economic lives of the poor? We know a little more thanks to Banerjee and Duflo, but we still have a long ways to go.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Welcome to Economics 280

Good morning and welcome to Development Economics at Washington and Lee University. For the next 4 months we will be discussing development issues - expanding on material covered in class. Please create an account and become a follower of General Development.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

First Meeting

So the first orientation meeting for GDI, Inc. before the W&L student body and the Roanoke Times, went smoothly and according to plan. Student turnout was promising, I believe that we have a great group of individuals biting at the bit to get involved. For anyone who happens to be in that category, I will be contacting you sometime this weekend to arrange a smaller meeting next week. At that point I will start getting ya'll going on getting up to speed on GDI, and beginning projects yourself.

Secondly, I have had numerous individuals express regret that they could not make the meeting last night; and I believe that we are in a position to continue advertising and get a good turnout at a second meeting. Therefore, I will be presenting the same orientation material a second time this coming week for anyone who wanted to make it last night, but couldnt.


Wednesday, March 3, 2010


So this week has been busy again at GDI, Inc.

Over break I worked on a fairly extensive business plan to formalize the concept of GDI, Inc. This Monday, the board of directors sat down to discuss and edit it.

I have spent a fair amount of time this week on designing a preliminary website for GDI, Inc. You can view it here: . I have also linked it to this blog, so perhaps we will get some more traffic following the progress we are making.

Tonight, Wednesday March 3rd, at 7pm I will be giving a formal presentation for W&L students interested in becoming a part of the GDI Team. I am expecting a fairly good turnout of students, which is exciting because we need to expand our team to continue growing. As well, a reporter from the Roanoke Times will be here to document our first public meeting. It should be exciting, my co-board members are unfortunately tied up this evening, but have promised to try and make an appearance. Hopefully all goes according to plan.

Things are looking great.


Wednesday, February 17, 2010

GDI premiers at W&L

Its Wednesday evening, and so far this week the W&L community has been incredibly receptive and responsive to what the General Development Initiative has to offer them. There is always a level of hesitancy on my part as to how people are going to react to a new concept that so much time and effort has been invested into. Any such minute worries have been quelled, and GDI is well on its way. I am incredibly excited about the formal organizational meeting we will be having on March 4th. I expect a great turnout of ambitious students from an array of academic backgrounds.

Professor Casey is scheduled to be making (several?) appearances at W&L alumni event(s) over the break to talk about the direction education at W&L is heading. With some luck he will be able to slip in a sentence or two about the concept of the General Development Initiative, and perhaps drum up some much needed support from the extended W&L community. Things have been moving quickly lately, its very exciting. The future is full of promise for W&L students and the General Development Initiative.

On a final note...lets go Virginia Commonwealth, we need that legal incorporation.


Saturday, February 13, 2010

A Big Week for GDI

This coming week of February 14th, we at GDI will be officially introducing the Initiative to the W&L campus. As Jarrett was talking about recently, GDI has undergone significant changes since the close of the fall semester; we believe that it is time to open our idea up to our fellow students and faculty. Many hours of work have gone into how to best present GDI to the campus, and I believe that we are now prepared.

We are still waiting on a response from the Virginia State Corporation Commission regarding official legal recognition as an established corporation, but the red tape is not slowing down the evolution of the project. Who knew that the government was so bureaucratic?


Thursday, February 4, 2010

The General Development Initiative: Romer is Right

Paul Romer has written extensively over the years about his views on the greatest driver of economic growth and improvements in the quality of life: IDEAS. The General Development Initiative (GDI), although still in its infancy, is now a reality. Once upon a time it was nothing more than an idea.

I began teaching development economics in the fall of 2001. I was vaguely familiar with the concept of service-learning and thought it highly relevant for the teaching and study of development. As part of the first course I taught, I asked students to volunteer at a local organization that worked with people suffering from the consequences of living in poverty. My thought was that the only way to truly understand development and poverty alleviation theories was to see them in practice. In addition to working with "the poor" students were required to write a short paper relating their personal experiences to a theoretical construct from class. The most common service provided was tutoring a young person in the local schools and then relating this experience to human capital theories. Students were able to see how their time spent with a young person could potentially be related to that person's future income and well-being. The most common papers used a Solow-Growth framework to discuss the long run implications of investing in a child's human capital.

I continued to use this service component for three years. During that time period students at Washington and Lee gave over 1000 hours of service to our local community. Based on comments from course evaluations - they also gained invaluable insights into what in means to be poor and how theories from our class cuold be used to alleviate the condition. In 2004, I took a semester away from the classroom and thought about how we could expand our local service projects....

to be continued.........