Posts tagged with: economic development

??????????This week at the Institute for Faith, Work and Economics, contributor James Clark asked, “Can microfinance really help the poor?” His conclusion: yes microfinance can work, but with certain caveats.

In the last decade, microfinance has become a popular strategy in poverty alleviation, yet many economists and philanthropists often call its effectiveness into question. In his article Clark says that “Christians have embraced microfinance as a solution to poverty that helps the poor help themselves, but we must ensure that our efforts are really helping people rather than simply making us feel good.”

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A beautiful day in Grand Rapids, Michigan. | Photo by Steven Depolo, Flickr

Growing up impoverished in the Grand Rapids area himself, Justin Beene brings a unique perspective to his lecture on Community and Economic Development. He has seen first-hand the good intentions behind top-down investing to eliminate poverty and racial injustice, and the consequential damage wreaked upon such communities. Urban cities have largely been developed through three forces: gentrification, pouring resources into them, and community development. Beene asserts that we need to cut off top-down funding and start supporting neighborhoods in solving their own problems. We must do things with its citizens, not for them or to them. Instead of enacting additional programming or conducting further needs assessments, we need to eliminate the “broken vending machine” that is development today, and break the cycle of toxic charity that runs rampant in creating gratitude, anticipation, expectation, entitlement, and dependency among the poor. (more…)

2014-03-19-piggyThe good news is that the pinging sound your car’s engine was making for the last month has finally stopped. The bad news is that the sound stopped because the engine stopped working. You take the car to a local mechanic who tells you it will cost $1,000 to repair.

How would you handle this type of unexpected emergency? Would you be prepared?

Only about 4 in 10 Americans (37 percent) say they would pay for an unexpected expense with savings, a Bankrate survey found. Almost a quarter more (23 percent) say they’d pay for an emergency by reducing spending on other things.

Credit cards would be an option for 15 percent and another 15 percent would borrow from family or friends. That leaves nearly 10 percent who have no idea what they’d do.
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cellphones-povertyFrom mass shootings to terrorist attacks, political incompetence to racial unrest, there has been no shortage of bad news stories in 2015. Death, destruction, and divisiveness tend to dominate the news cycle, leading us to despair over the direction our world is headed.

But our incessant focus on the negative can lead us to overlook or downplay the positive changes that are happening across the globe. That is especially true of the most important good news story of 2015, one few people have heard and fewer have grasped the significance.

The good news: For the first time in world history, less than 10 percent of the global population will be living in extreme poverty.
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consumptionWhat if told you that between 90-100 percent of Americans are living in “healthcare poverty.” You would probably object and say that while the country certainly has a healthcare crisis, my numbers are surely inflated. After all, most people in the U.S. have access to healthcare.

In reply, I explain that while it’s true most people are able to consume healthcare services, they are still in poverty since those services are paid for at least partially by the government or private insurance. You would probably respond that I seem very confused on this issue. And you’d be right.

Yet when we hear reports that between 14 and 16 percent of  Americans are living in poverty, few people bother to ask, “Are they talking about consumption or income?”

The reason it matters is the same reason that most Americans are not in “healthcare poverty”: they are able to consume more goods and services than they are able to pay for with their income. As James X. Sullivan, an economics professor at Notre Dame, has explained:
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Blog author: jcarter
Tuesday, November 17, 2015
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driving-carOne of the most important socio-economic factors in America is social mobility, the ability of an individual or family to improve (or lower) their economic status. And one of the major factors in increasing social mobility is to simply increase mobility. For example, if you have to walk to work, you are limited to jobs within a few miles of your home. But if you can drive to work, the number of job opportunities available to you may increase considerably.

Most of us who have access to individual means of transportation take that connection for granted. But for the working poor, a car may not only help them get to a place of employment, it can help them drive away from poverty. For instance, a recent study finds that for low-income residents of high-poverty neighborhoods, having access to an automobile can lead to greater economic opportunities:
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night-sky-lanterns-all-is-giftThe Acton Institute’s latest film series is having a profound influence on churches and communities of all kinds. Hearts are being stirred and inspired, minds are connecting mission with culture, and as a result, the church is unlocking a bigger-picture vision of God’s plan for creation.

Over at the Letters to the Exiles blog, Evan Koons is compiling letters and testimonials from viewers of the series, sharing how For the Life of the World is transforming their lives and communities.

In the latest letter, we hear the story of Judilynn Niedercorn, a self-described “crazy middle-aged woman from D.C.,” who recently felt the call to leave her 30-year consulting career and relocate to rural New York.

Why? She knew she wanted to “be in the world” and she knew she wanted to change culture, but she wasn’t sure about God’s precise plan. “I thought it was to go to school and learn to be a social worker,” she writes. “But nope…it is to bring peace and prosperity to rural Appalachian NY!” (more…)