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ISET Economist Blog

A blog about economics in the South Caucasus.
May
02

Education That Matters

Cuba’s Fidel Castro once famously said about his country: “Even our prostitutes have university degrees”. While we don’t know about prostitutes, something similar could be said about Georgia. Virtually all Georgians have university degrees, and, as every frequent user of taxi services knows, there are Georgian taxi drivers who have two of them. Yet Georgia’s permeation with human capital  is even more impressive than in Cuba, because Cubans were sent to schools by government command, while Georgians chose to become so literate just by their own moti...
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Jan
26

Towards a More Equitable Georgia

Last week I discussed the economic consequences of inequality. Contrary to a traditional tenet of economics, empirical research has shown that inequality may have adverse economic consequences. Inequality increases the risk of political instability in a country, posing a threat to investments due to the fact that political unrest is highly detrimental to the profits made from any economic activity. Therefore, foreigners will bring less capital into a country when the risk of instability goes up, and even local investors will move their money over the bor...
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Jan
20

Beyond Fairness and Envy: The Economic Effects of Income Inequality

Why should we care about income inequality? According to Nobel Prize laureate Joseph Stiglitz and Harvard economist Jason Furman, “greater inequality leads to more political instability, and greater political instability leads to lower growth” (“Economic Consequences of Income Inequality”, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas: Journal Proceedings, 1998, pp. 221-232). Consequently, even if one does not care about income inequality directly, there may be reason to care about its indirect effects. In their article "Income Distribution, Political Instability, and ...
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Nov
29

Clean Air is Lifetime

Lifetime is one of the most precious assets. People are paying huge amounts of money to extend their lifespans, sometimes for gaining only weeks or months. And imprisonment and death penalty are so widely applied punishments throughout all cultures and ages because people are scared off by the prospect of losing lifetime. As lifetime is such a valuable good, it is surprising that it is largely ignored in the policy debate. According to the World Populations Prospects report, published in 2010 by the United Nations, Georgians have a life expectancy at bir...
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Oct
14

The University of Life

When economists speak about education and human capital, they usually mean formal education. It is provided in schools and universities by formally qualified teachers. These are imparting knowledge that is laid down in curricula, and the result of the learning process is testified by certificates and diplomas conferred to those students who passed exams. Hence economists usually measure the availability of human capital in a society by the average number of years citizens attended schools and universities. Yet is formal education the only source of human...
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