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Article

Valeria Marina Valle, Caroline Irene Deschak, and Vanessa Sandoval-Romero

International migration flows have long been a defining feature of the Americas and have evolved alongside political and phenomenological shifts between 2009 and 2018, creating new patterns in how, when, and why people move. Migration is a determinant of health, and for the nations involved, regional changes create new challenges to defend the universal right to health for migrants. This right is repeatedly guaranteed within the global agenda, such as in the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the United Nations; the 1966 International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights; and the 2015 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), especially SDG 3 regarding health and well-being, and SDG 10, which aims to reduce inequalities within and among countries. The 2018 Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration confirms a worldwide partnership highlighting protection of migrants’ right to health and services. The literature reviewed on migration and health in the Americas between 2009 and 2018 identifies two distinct publication periods with different characteristics in the Central and North American subregions: 2009 to 2014, and 2015 to 2018. The first period is characterized by an influx of young adult migrants from Central America to the United States who generally traveled alone. During the second period, the migration flow includes other major groups, such as unaccompanied minors, pregnant women, disabled people, people from the LGBTIQ+ community, and whole families; some Central Americans drew international attention for migrating in large groups known as “caravans.” In South America, the 2010–2015 period shows three defining tendencies: intensification of intra-regional cross-border migration (with an 11% increase in South American migrants from 2010 to 2015 and approximately 70% of intra-subregional migration), diversification of countries of origin and extra-regional destination, and the persistence of extra-continental emigration. Social determinants of health have a foundational relevance to health and well-being for migrants, such as age, housing, health access, education, and policy environment. Guiding theories on migration and health include Push-and-Pull Theory, Globalization Theory, Transnationalism, Relational Cultural Theory, and Theory of Assimilation. Migration and health was analyzed through the lens of five disciplines (Management, Social Work, Communication, Education, Information Science & Library Science, Law): clinical medicine, social sciences, health (general), professional fields, and psychology. There is an overrepresentation of literature in clinical medicine, demonstrating a strong bias towards production in the United States. Another gap perceived in the literature is the minimal knowledge production in South America and the Caribbean, and a clear bias towards publication in the North American continent. At the regional level, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO)’s agenda serves to highlight areas of success and opportunities for future research, particularly in two areas: strengthening partnerships, networks, and multi-country frameworks; and adopting policies, programs, and legal frameworks to promote and protect the health of migrants. As these strategic lines of action aim to provide the basis for decisions regarding migrant health in the region, they should be considered two important avenues for further academic exploration.

Article

Jennifer D. Sciubba

The late 20th century brought the dawn of global population aging, the culmination of decades-long shifts to lower fertility and longer life expectancy. These novel age distributions—larger proportions of older persons relative to working-age or youth—bring with them a plethora of questions about the political, economic, and social causes and consequences of such aging. There are multiple theoretical perspectives and ways to measure population aging, and decisions about approaches, definitions, and measurements can make a dramatic difference on the results of studies of its impact. Some scholars approach the study of aging through a generational lens, others through chronological age, dependency ratios, or other measures of age structure. Studies of the implications of population aging fall into three major categories: political, economic, and social. Political demography studies often focus on the political power of various age groups and attempt to assess the degree to which intergenerational conflict is emerging as the sizes of age groups change and their demands on services like entitlements shift alongside. Political demography studies also look at voter behavior and preferences to assess possibilities for reform of age-related policies, like retirement, healthcare, and education. A separate branch of political demography examines the military implications of population aging, particularly its effect on the willingness and ability of a state to use force. Of the few studies that show a link between aging and war, empirical results are inconclusive, meaning that it is just as likely a state with a high median age will be belligerent as not. Studies on the economic implications of population aging look at the changing nature of the labor market itself and on the possibility of macroeconomic growth in the face of demographic change. Finally, research on the social impact of population aging is mostly concerned with individual- and family-level well-being, as the care demands of an aging population create pressures on individuals, families, and social safety nets. There are many controversies and debates over the impact of aging, including debates over the relative weight of demographic factors and whether population aging is a trend warranting celebration or alarm. In all, there are far more questions about the implications of aging than there are answers, and the projected development of this trend means that more questions constantly arise. Lingering questions surround historically rapid demographic aging, new sets of aging states at different speeds, shrinking populations, the intersection between migration and aging, and the intersection between aging and climate change. The field is ripe for more comparative aging work in general.

Article

Development cannot be separated from global political economy, but it is an inherent component of the latter. The concept of development was popularized through expansion of colonization, and underwent various transformations as the socio-political structure of the world changed over time. Thus, the central task of development theory is to determine and explain why some countries are underdeveloped and how these countries can develop. Such theories draw on a variety of social science disciplines and approaches. Accordingly, different development paradigms have emerged upon which different scholars have shown profound interests and to which they gave extensive criticisms—modernization, dependency, Marxism, postcolonialism, and globalization. With the recent emergence of the post-modern critique of development, power has become an important subject in the discourse of development. Nevertheless, a full theoretical understanding of the relations between power and development is still in its fledgling stage. Though highly apparent in human societies, social power per se is a polylithic discourse with no unified definition and implication, which has led different proponents of development paradigms to understand power differently. Although there is a dialectic contradiction between the different dialogic paradigms, the reality of development theory is that there is a large choice of theories and models from which field practicioners will draw pragmatically the most appropriate elements, or they will create their own model adapted to the situation.

Article

Steven W. Hook and Franklin Barr Lebo

International development has remained a key part of global economic relations since the field emerged more than half a century ago. From its initial focus on colonization and state building, the field has evolved to encompass a wide range of issues, theoretical problems, and disciplinary traditions. The year 1945 is widely considered as a turning point in the study of international development. Three factors account for this: the end of World War II that left the US an economic hegemon, the ideological rivalry that defined the Cold War, and the period of decolonization that peaked around 1960 that forced development issues, including foreign aid, state building, and multilateral engagement, onto the global agenda. Since then, development paradigms have continuously evolved, adapted, and been reinvented to address the persistent and arguably widening gap between the prosperous economies of the “developed North” and the developing and frequently troubled economies of the “global South.” Today, a loosely knit holistic paradigm has emerged that recognizes the deficiencies of its predecessors, yet builds on their strengths. A holistic conception of international development embraces methodological pluralism in the scholarly study of development, while recognizing the multiple ways policy practitioners may productively apply academic theories and research findings in unique settings.

Article

Priya Kurian and Robert V. Bartlett

The fundamental conflicts and contradictions between environment and development, and various theoretical and practical efforts to reconcile them, have been a prominent part of the history of development thinking since environmentalism emerged as a significant political phenomenon in the 1960s. The idea of development as change for the better resonates perhaps with all civilizations and across time. All civilizations have development myths which reflect a self-awareness that a particular culture had at some time in the past advanced from a more primitive, less developed state. But these cultural myths of development are only incidentally material or economic. More pronounced concerns over the environment and development emerged during the 1960s and the 1970s. These decades were marked by the emergence of widespread public concern about environmental problems of air and water pollution, and the growth of the environmental movement led to national environmental policy developments and international efforts on the environmental front. In addition, development, environment, and sustainability are all normative concepts with implications for ethics and justice. The vast literature on sustainable development has spawned a range of critiques from a variety of theoretical and disciplinary perspectives. The environmental justice literature developed after early sustainable development literature, and raises questions about intragenerational equity.

Article

Michael Humphrey and Shahadat Hossain

Slums have generated renewed interest among scholars in the wake of rapid urbanization in the South and the growing incidence of urban poverty worldwide. This gave rise to the expression “expanding urban slums,” which refers to a phenomenon occurring in the Global South associated with “hyper-urbanization”— rapid urbanization beyond the capacity of the state or city to plan for, to provide services and housing for, to regulate urban environments or regulate the poor. The UN Challenge of Slums report describes two kinds of slums: “slums of hope” and “slums of despair.” Slums of hope are “progressing” settlements, characterized by new, normally self-built structures, usually illegal (e.g. squatters) that are in, or have recently been through, a process of development, consolidation and improvement. Slums of despair refer to “declining” neighborhoods, in which environmental conditions and domestic services are undergoing a process of degeneration. Earlier studies of slums differ from contemporary research in terms of the extent to which megaslums are emerging as a permanent feature of megacities. Contemporary studies of the “expanding slum” can be conceptualized as about different aspects of informalization of urban social, economic, and political processes. The literature on urban informality and informalization indicates that slums are not excluded spaces but integrated on different terms. Scholars must begin to develop more nuanced theories of urbanism in a globalizing world, and they can use the “gray zones” of Latin American cities as a starting point.

Article

Christopher B. Barrett and Erin C. Lentz

Food plays an essential role in performance and well-being. Apart from its physiological necessity, food is also a source of pleasure. Since both biological needs for food and psychic satisfaction from food vary considerably among and within populations, coming up with precise, operationalizable measures of food security have proved problematic. Furthermore, the concept of food security encompasses not only current nutritional status but also vulnerability to future disruptions in one’s access to adequate and appropriate food. The complexity of the concept of food security has given rise to scores, if not hundreds, of different definitions of the term “food security.” As a result, there have also been variations in thinking about the proximate manifestations and direct and indirect causes and consequences of “food insecurity,” the complement to “food security.” Food security is commonly conceptualized as resting on three pillars that are inherently hierarchical: availability, access, and utilization. Some agencies, such as the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), have added a fourth dimension: stability. Food insecurity is often used interchangeably with the terms “hunger,” “undernutrition,” and “malnutrition.” Threats to food insecurity may be classified as either “covariate” or “idiosyncratic.” Based on these threats, various interventions have been implemented to promote food security by means of increasing availability (improving agricultural productivity), promoting access (economic growth and assistance programs such as food stamps or vouchers, food aid delivery, food banks, school lunch programs), or improving utilization (supplementary feeding programs, therapeutic feeding programs).

Article

Wendy W. Wolford and Timothy Gorman

Organization by rural landless movements has been the primary factor driving the implementation of land reform projects. At the heart of land reform is a debate over the very nature of both property and rights within and between socialist and capitalist economic systems of the modern era. One common interpretation of the development of property rights was articulated by Karl Marx, who argued that capitalism was made possible through theft of common land by a rising bourgeois class. The issue of private property rights in land emerged as a crucial aspect of national socialist transformation in the early 1900s. Known as the “Agrarian Question,” it was first formulated by Karl Kautsky as both a political and economic question. Land distribution occurs today via three main mechanisms, which differ in their emphasis on market transactions, state appropriations, and grassroots mobilizations: the market, state, and civil society. Grassroots mobilization to demand access to land has been a key factor behind most if not all land distribution programs. There is a growing literature on the transnational peasant movement (TPM), but much of it is laudatory and descriptive, focusing on the formation of various movements and campaigns. Comparative work is needed to elucidate general trends and retain sensitivity to local conditions in the future. Furthermore, the literature on land reform must be interdisciplinary, with attention to economic issues, political factors, social relations (including power), and historical particularities.

Article

Robin Gravesteijn and James Copestake

Microfinance refers to an array of financial services—including loans, savings, and insurance—available to poor entrepreneurs and small business owners who have no collateral and, otherwise, would not qualify for a standard bank loan. Those who promote microfinance generally believe that such access will help poor people out of poverty. For many, microfinance is a way to promote economic development, employment, and growth through the support of micro-entrepreneurs and small businesses; for others, it is a way for the poor to manage their finances more effectively and take advantage of economic opportunities while managing the risks. One of the newer fields that is getting more attention within microfinance is the measure of microfinance institutions’ (MFIs) social performance, which broadly is an indication of how well an MFI meets the social goals outlined in its mission and vision. Social performance is reflected in a wide range of indicators, including an MFI’s policies towards employees, like providing health care or maternity leave; to what degree an MFI targets the poorest of the poor for financial services; an MFI’s policies on environmental conservation; how low an MFI keeps its interest rates; how transparent an MFI is about these interest rates and other loan terms; and how an MFI’s services translate into improved lives for their clients.

Article

Gustavo Esteva

Development was born as aid, an expression of the modern obsession with “caring” used by disabling professions and the service industry. However, by 1980, it was already clear that there was no correlation between aid and economic growth, and that aid was an obstacle for social transformation. Development was also born in the context of the Cold War. For President Truman, the American way of life was a democratic and egalitarian ideal to overcome the communist “threat” by closing the gap between industrial and “underdeveloped” countries. In addition, development was a reaction to the initiatives of the colonized world, increasingly challenging Western domination. Since Truman, development has connoted at least one thing: to escape from the vague, indefinable, and undignified condition known as underdevelopment. However, the Age of Development—the historical period formally inaugurated in 1949—is now coming to an end. The future of development studies lies in archaeology, to explore the ruins it left behind by looking at development’s pre-history and conceptual history, as well as the development enterprise. Since the 1970s, new campaigns were launched to focus the effort in getting for the underdeveloped, at least, the fulfillment of their “basic needs.” Meanwhile, the “law of scarcity” was construed by the economists to denote the technical assumption that man’s wants are huge and infinite, whereas his means are limited though improvable. Poverty and development thus go hand in hand. Indeed, historical experience reveals that development generates poverty. By 1985, the idea of post-development has already emerged.