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July 2008

Cambodia's Relative Peace Brings the Challenges of Growth

Stéphane Guimbert's picture

Workers scale one of the skyscrapers under construction in Cambodia.
Last Sunday, more than 8 millions Cambodians were called to vote. This is already the fourth general elections since the 1991 Paris Peace Agreement. Many – including me before I moved to our Phnom Penh office last summer – still connect Cambodia first to what we learned in history classes. The splendor of the Angkor civilization and the atrocities of the Khmer Rouge regime probably come on top of the list. And there is some truth to that. Angkor Wat and its neighboring temples remain magnificent. The Khmer Rouge regime has left deep stigma for the people and for the society. The Khmer Rouge tribunal is attracting a lot of international attention as well. Most landmine fields have been cleared, although there remain some in more remote areas.

But, for all this, this connection more and more misses a key fact: over the last couple of years, Cambodia has achieved a relative peace that has enabled dramatic social and economic change.

Ending poverty...through supermarkets?

Ryan Hahn's picture

Walmart has attracted its fair share of attention in debates about globalization and poverty. A new paper from the University of Chicago business school suggests that stores like Walmart have helped dampen the growth of inequality in the U.S. by reducing the prices faced by the poor. Christian Broda, one of the authors, sums it up over at Vox:

Dead as a Doha?

Michael Figueroa's picture

After seven years of fitful trade negotiations, the WTO’s Doha Round has collapsed, and the post mortems have already hit the newsstands.  Writing in the International Herald Tribune, Keith Bradsher points to a new alliance between China and India, both pushing for so-called “safeguard” rules for agriculture, translating into uncapped tariffs on food imports from ri

Let the People be the Judge!

Antonio Lambino's picture

It was in Manila last week where I came across a banner headline on a major broadsheet that read “The people, not surveys, should judge (the president’s) performance."  I was confused.  Aren't people’s attitudes, opinions, and intentions precisely what surveys seek to measure?  Aren’t surveys, in fact, meant to reflect the will and preferences of the people?

When surveys are done well and conscientiously, they provide valuable information from which we can derive knowledge helpful toward understanding people's opinions, especially on matters of public interest.  Applying public opinion research techniques can also aid in improving the quality of democratic governance, particularly in coming to more informed decisions that more closely reflect citizen preferences (e.g., James S. Fishkin’s chapter in Governance Reform under Real-World Conditions).

Who gets the credit?

Ryan Hahn's picture

A new paper coauthored by fellow PSD blogger Thorsten Beck entitled Who Gets the Credit? offers up some new insights on what effect credit availability has on GDP growth. Using data on 45 countries between 1994 and 2005 on the relative share of enterprise vs. household credit, the authors conclude:

Rising food prices and child labor

Ryan Hahn's picture

Over at the Economist, a debate is heating up over the following proposition: "There is an upside for humanity in the rise of food prices." I just checked, and right now the votes stand at 59 percent "pro" and 41 percent "con." It seems to me that the result is a bit skewed, however, given the wording of the question - I can imagine few things in the world that don't have at least some upside.

The Technocrat and the Reporter

Sina Odugbemi's picture

In a previous job, I was asked to organize media training for senior technocrats in international development who would, in the course of their jobs, have to face the media from time to time to answers questions about their areas of responsibility. As I set about doing a learning needs assessment and organizing the training, I noticed a dynamic I had not reflected on before.