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World Bank comes to the University of Calgary to present international development report

By Alexander Kim, March 19 2015 —

The University of Calgary hosted the Canadian launch of the World Bank’s 2015 World Development Report on Wednesday, March 18 in the MacHall ballroom. The report looks at the assumptions and effectiveness of traditional economic models used for international development.

Ryan Muldoon, senior research fellow at the University of Pennsylvania helped prepare the report. Muldoon hopes it will lead to changes in Canadian and international development policy.

“We have traditionally misunderstood people’s motivations in their behaviour and decision making. We tend to view people through the lens of classical rationality. [We assume] that people can make very complicated decisions costlessly,” Muldoon said.

Muldoon said this isn’t realistic and that poverty can induce a “cognitive tax,” which makes it difficult to plan for the future.

Muldoon also said that most economic models don’t take the conditions of different societies, religions, cultures, education levels or jobs into account. According to the report, considering these factors is important for planning effective development policy.

“It’s not just money that matters for people [in considering if] they’re doing well or not, but also whether they’re stigmatized in the population and social norms they’re influenced by,” Muldoon said. “It’s very hard to do anything effective if we’re not measuring the right things.”

The launch of the report also featured a discussion panel with several professors from the U of C. The panel discussed the report in the context of Alberta and Canada.

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