You are on page 1of 34


by Asuncion M. Sebastian On June 22, 2012 For Development Administration (DVS531P) Ph. D. in Development Studies Submitted to Dr. Rizal G. Buendia Word count: 8,479

Essay No. 1 Based on the Readings on Development Theories and Issues

I. Introduction II. The Economic Growth-Human Development Debate and the Alternative Development A. Evolution of Development Theories B. The Role of Institutions in Human Development C. Bringing Politics Back in Development D. Individual Versus Household E. Operationalizing Human Development Measures F. The Role of Economic Growth in Development Redefined III. Various Development Issues A. Education B. Employment C. Women in Development D. The Role of Innovation in Development IV. Notes on the Contemporary Approach to Development Analysis and Measures V. Summary and Conclusion Bibliography



This paper argues the following: 1) human development must be placed

at the center of all kinds of development albeit without demeaning the others, and anything that does not contribute to human wellbeing is counter- development; 2) development must be understood from the subjects (or those for whom development interventions are intended) perspectiveand not from that of theorists, policy makers, program implementers, aid agencies, or other observers; and 3) hence, solutions and interventions can neither be too grand a scale that they overlook the peculiarities of the development segments and apply one-size-fits-all solutions nor too narrow that everything seems to rest on individual freedom, capacity, and responsibility. The consequent localized development programs thus call for inter-sector cooperation and inter-agency collaboration. The materials used in this paper as bases for discussion are products of economics (Sen, Krueger, and Sachs), sociology (OHearn and Nederveen Pieterse), economics combined with the discipline of development studies (Sumner and Tribe, and Alkire1), and urban planning and regional development (Friedmann). As well, many of these theorists are from the West/North of the development divide looking into, and in some cases even prescribing solutions to, the East/South. Thus, development is taken from the perspectives of various outside observers, not from those who want development or those who are directly affected by the lack of it. This is true not only at the global level but even 1 Her work, which supports the arguments of Sen, is included in this paper to achieve balance in the assessment of Sens work, with OHearns providing a critical review of it.
Page 1 of 32

at the program or project level. The subjects are seldom genuinely consulted (emphasis on genuinely since consultation can be done only ceremonially or simply out of compliance with policies), much less made to decide on their needs. In short, development has become a social construct of many people except by the subjects themselves. This paper will do the following: 1) discuss the economics-human development debate in development in the light of poverty reduction; 2) analyze the theoretical and operational gaps in the various issues of development, mainly in employment, education, gender, and innovation; and 3) identify some areas for improvement in contemporary approaches to development analysis and measures. Cutting across these segments are the discussion of implications of these issues on the way development interventions are programmed, implemented, and evaluated.

II. The Economic Growth-Human Development Debate and the Alternative Development
Knowingly or unknowingly, people will see only what they are trained to see thus in the introduction, the resource materials are neatly classified into three categories: economics, sociology, and economics with leaning on development studies. The various disciplines have differing ways of seeing development issues and addressing themwhat Sumner and Tribe (2009, p.4) called positionality or situationality. The authors, recognizing their own potential biases, explained that individual and group backgrounds or identities (race, gender, age, nationality, social and economic status, and other

Page 2 of 32

characteristics) directly and indirectly influence peoples experiences, values, preconceptions, ideology, interpretations and research. Quoting Haddad, they wrote: As an economist I have a taught tendency to the technocratic and to avoid messy reality, so I look out for occasional apolitical and ahistorical perspectives. Concerns with social justice run deep in my psyche so watch out for any downplaying of growth and efficiency (Haddad, 2006, p.2 in Sumner and Tribe, 2009, p.4). It is therefore critical for every reader to understand from what standpoint the authors are coming. The same principle applies in the review of the evolution of development theories, on which the discussion of this paper is anchored.


Evolution of Development Theories

Pieterse (2010) traced the evolution of development theoriesfrom classical political economy in the 1800s, to industrialization, modernization, alternative development, human development, neoliberalism, and post- development in the 1990swhich framed the meaning and measures of development in the various eras. In the 1940s, for example, development was seen in the light of the countries industrialization and thus the logical measure then of development was economic growth, production, and productivity (pp.6- 7). In this period and under this perspective, human beings are treated as means of production (Sen, 1999, pp.292-296), alongside capital and land. This view is amiss in not considering the members of the population who cannot be productive in terms of rendering paid labor and servicesuch as the specially- abled sector and the culturally-bound women, among othersand those who

Page 3 of 32

cannot expected to be sothe children and elderly. This narrow perspective of development, ironically, excludes in the picture the most vulnerable sectors. Although political and social dimensions began to be incorporated in the succeeding theories of modernization and dependency, human beings became the center of development only until the rise of alternative development. Alternative development puts the poor at the center stage and asserts priority attention should be given to satisfying the basic needs of people for food, water, and shelter rather than to simple growth-maximization, andthe environment to sustain such growth (Friedmann, 1992, p.2). It further argues that economic growth does not necessarily mean higher income for everyone; in fact, it leads to the exclusion of some sectors and adds still to the poverty of others (Friedmann, 1992, pp.17-21). The human flourishing theme of alternative development then turned into human capacitation and enlargement of peoples choices of human development, which follows Sens work on freedom (Nederveen Pieterse, 2010, pp.6-7). Sen (1999) argues that freedom is the means and ends of development, the individual capacity to do things, and refers to it as that which is concerned with the process of decision making as well as opportunities to achieve valued outcomes (p.291). This statement assumes two things. One is that individuals uniformly possess a certain level of awareness, consciousness, and responsibility to be able to make sound decisions for themselves, which is not necessarily true for everyone. Take for example the microfinance institutions that deliberately cater to the bottom poor segment of the population (as opposed to the less poor entrepreneurial sector)they first have to sell hope to the poor before they could extend financial services to them,

Page 4 of 32

as some poor choose to be content with what they have or what they do not have because they think they can never improve their lot. They refuse to go to school, they do not want to start a micro enterprise or engage in income-generating activities, they cannot imagine sending their children to school, and they do not have dreams or aspirationsso what to do with them? The second assumption is that opportunities are in the hands or within the control of individuals. What if the lack of opportunity is due to lack of infrastructure such as roads and bridges and power facilities? To what extent can individuals be held responsible for the level of their capacity? This issue on opportunity leads to the role of the state and institutions in human development.


The Role of Institutions in Human Development

OHearn (2009) criticized Sen for seeing social institutions and the state as having limited roles in development ( 4-6). This claim is not quite accurate because right in the beginning, Sen (1999, p.10) acknowledged the key roles of various institutions in the promotion of the five distinct types of freedom. In his discussion of opportunities, Sen also (1999, pp.142-144) emphasized the role of the market institutions as well as public policies that can equalize opportunities by promoting the provision of education, health care, and social security, among others, to the marginalized. However, Sen warned that the mere presence of institutions is not enough and that effective practice is necessary to achieve development (p.158). This argument leads back to individual capacitywhile public policy (or the state) can enhance freedom and capabilities, capabilities can influence public policy (Alkire, n.d., pp.11-12). In short, the effectiveness, or the

Page 5 of 32

strength or weakness of institutions lies in the capacity of the individuals that make up these institutions. Add to this point that sound implementation of public policy rests on individual capacity as well. In the Philippines, the law mandates that basic education be made available to allan opportunity-equalizing intervention. However, some teachers admit that students finish grade school without knowing how to read and write and they let these students pass because 1) repeat students will just add to the already huge number of public school attendees and 2) the teachers pity the parents who would be spending for another year for their childs schooling. In this case, specifically from the perspective of the students finishing grade school without knowing the basic skills, how can Sens individual responsibility hold water? Or is this a chicken- and-egg kind of debate? While Sen did not discount the role of institutions in promoting equality, he did not address either the very things the brought inequality in the first place. Instead, he proposed another (but not necessarily new) way of looking at or measuring development, that is, in terms of human capacity and freedom. Perhaps the lack of historical perspective in his analysis (O'Hearn, 2009, 12) as well as geographical, political, and, cultural considerations that one must be sensitive to (Sachs, 2005, p.21) made Sens proposition too narrow at the practical and operational levels of development discourse (as opposed to abstract and theoretical) and too myopic to be able to address the issues at root. With the institutional perspective considered, the development process thus becomes a collaborative effort of various socio-economic and political structures. With historical perspective as well, development interventions may cover other

Page 6 of 32

mechanisms such as dialogues and negotiations among stakeholders. Poverty issues in Muslim Mindanao areas, for example, could not be addressed by merely extending health services and education to the people because of their long history of conflicts and struggles.


Bringing Politics Back in Development

In her article, Krueger (2009) pointed out government failureinefficient public sector enterprises, regulations and control of private sector activities, inadequate physical infrastructure, and failure to deliver basic servicesas a cause of underdevelopment. This, however, she differentiated from political failure, under which politicians act according to their self-interest and pursue client-patronage relations, much to the detriment of society in general. Such condition, according to Krueger, calls for reform by the leaders, which is deemed absolute essential in low-income countries if they are to achieve satisfactory rates of economic growth (pp.280-281). Reforms by leaders is quite idealistic and a very personal, value-based solution. On the other hand, Sumner and Tribe (2008) suggest that a technocratic approachthat which measures goals, outcomes, and other performance indicatorsdepoliticize development. Theoretically, technocracy will draw the line between token social services extended for the purpose of re-election to public officeof course all politicians will always have social services because that is how they reach the common people or the masaand the genuine social services intended for development. In reality, however, technocratic approach is problematic in itself. How will data be gathered? Who will gather them? Who will process them? Social development in the Philippines has been devolved to the

Page 7 of 32

local government units so that the political leaders, who are supposed to the closer to their constituents, can respond more effectively to their needs. Ironically though, basic information such as the number and location of the constituents is not known to many local government units (LGUs), which instead rely on the estimates and survey of the National Statistics Coordinating Board (although there are already LGUs that are using ICT to build their databases). How then can technocracy rule in this kind of system? Suppose there are data that proves the politicians non-achievement of goals, targets, and campaign promises, what now? Take for example the 2011 budget of the Quezon City. Of the Php10.25-billion budget, 26.76 percent was earmarked for the Office of the Mayor, while only 2.04 percent was allocated for social services. Nobody seemed to have questioned the lopsided budget so that it got approved and even published in the Internet. This case illustrates that simply providing the figures for technocracys purpose will not depoliticize development; the process would require that breed of technocrats who are also political savvy. Bringing politics into the equation of development is an old school, yet it still contains a grain of truth. Both Sumner and Tribe (2008) and Sachs (2005) brought politics back into the understanding of development. The theme is lacking in the discourse of human development but is one of the four spheres emphasized in alternative development. In fact, Friedmann (1992, p.27) in his model separated the political arena from the state to include the dynamics at the local level.

Page 8 of 32


Individual Versus Household

OHearn (2009) also found Sens focus on individual capacity and freedom too Western. While the author did not differentiate a Western perspective on development and freedom from the Eastern or Asian, one could only second- guess that he was referring to the social connections or capital of the poor that help tide them over difficult times. Regardless how OHearn defined his Western view, there is truth in his position in that poverty is not an individual issue, at least, not all the time. Poverty is as real in the household setting as it is an individual predicamentjust how can one separate the individual poverty of children from that of the household where they are raised? Or how can one separate the poverty of one household from that of the community where it resides? Ones view on the scale and scope of poverty does have an impact on the kind of interventions that would be employed. If indeed poverty is an individual concern, it is only but logical that interventions need to be individualized to be effective. This mindset would then challenge the community-based, the national, and even the regional approach of development agencies to address poverty. It would then appear that the development organizations apply one-size-fits-all universal solution to an individual and individualized concernit simply does not make sense. Although Friedmann and Sen responded to the same issue of economics not being enough gauge of development, Friedmann proposed his whole- economy model, which captures those factors that are not included in the traditional national income accounting to reflect the subjects reality more accurately. In his model, he included the socio-cultural relations that take place in the arena of civil society, which, just like the market economy, bring value to

Page 9 of 32

the economic system. Examples are the domestic workthat does not figure into the gross domestic product value but does contribute to economy albeit at the household levelas well as the communal work that adds value to communal economy (Friedmann, 1992, pp.35-54). Sen, on the other hand, made the development measures more humane but, as OHearn (2009, 14) posed in his conclusion, without questioning the status quo or presenting new propositions. Friedmann (1992) used a framework of analysisbased on Polanyis work (1977) which asserted that economic relations are deeply embedded in the matrix of social and cultural relationsthat centered on the household economy, the oikos from which the term economics have evolved. The household is also the system central to civil society, as the non-market and market relations converge in the household system. Since a household is connected to extended families, neighbors, market economy, and political associations, Friedmann built his whole-economy model around the household to complement the utility- maximizing and individualistic bias of the neoclassical economic thought (p.53). Sen also countered the utility-maximizing notion about human beings by arguing that individuals are not just rational beings but also have the desire to contribute to social changes (pp.261-265). Friedmanns proposition, however, is more logical since measures such as income and expenditure can be more accurately analyzed at the household level than at the individual level, and so are poverty and other development issues. Besides, Sens concept of the goodness of humanity will be difficult to operationalize, much less to measure. Bringing Friedmanns argument to the field level, program feasibility studies commonly use household data rather than individual data in their area assessment and projections. At the same time, development practitioners are

Page 10 of 32

veering away from large-scale interventionsnational or regional levels, for examplelest they fall into the one-size-fits-all solutions. They prefer community-based or local interventions. In fact, Friedmann (1992) cited the practice in the Philippines of disaggregating data into rural-urban divide and by region, gender, age, and family income to come up with a more useful understanding of wellbeing of households than the national income accounts (p.39). Yunus (2007), the father of micro credit, also segmented the poor population of Dhaka when he was still designing an intervention to alleviate povertyaccording to region, religion, occupation, and ethnicity, among others. For him, definitions of poverty need to be distinctive and unambiguous like navigation markings in unknown waters (p.41). More fundamental than measuring performance or impact of development is using data to define, describe, and locate that which development is trying to address. Consequently, this trend had led to development thinking becoming more localized, differentiated, and diverse; hence, there are no more development formula applied across countries. There is a shift from structuralism (account of social realities as determined by structures) to constructivism (account of social realities as being socially constructed), from structures to agency, actor-oriented, or participatory approach. Development themes now center on intersectoral cooperation, social diversity, and gender and environment, to name a few. (Nederveen Pieterse, 2010, pp.12-13)


Operationalizing Human Development Measures

If Sen made any contribution, it is that he made development more humane. This he did by framing the same people-centric development principles

Page 11 of 32

initiated by the alternative development advocates but in a more dramatic, impassioned wayusing moving anecdotes in Bangladesh for exampleatypical of economists. Being an economist himself must have helped in adding credibility and acceptability to his propositions in the economics community, in which the alternative development that was spearheaded by civil society did not become quite popular. However, in terms of operationalizing this development goal of human capacity and freedom, how does one measure its achievement? How does one measure capacity and freedom? An attempt to do is the Millennium Development Goals, which is based on Sens human development concept. Alkire (n. d., p.8) also pointed out the imperfections of statistical relationship between income and capabilities, which heightens further the economics-human development tension. But then again, why bother with measures of development if in the first place the subjectsthe poor, the marginalized, those who are direct victims of underdevelopmentare not involved in the process of determining what development really means to them. If they would be allowed to determine their development, only then could the development observers know that which is truly significant to measure and how to measure it. The perception of the poor should be the focal point of developmentnot that of the rich, the aid agencies, or the development sectorbecause top-down indicators may not correspond with how the poor see their desired change in their wellbeing (Sumner & Tribe, 2008, p.24). As posed by Sumner and Tribe (2009, p.1), if development means good change, what is good and what sort of change matters? And the most important question to ask, whose development do the observers talk about?

Page 12 of 32

This anthropological approach of looking into development from the perspective of the subject, however, would lead back to the challenge of dealing with diverse population, particularly that segment that seems to be content with underdevelopment. If their individual freedom dictates that they remain in status quo, should they be left alone in their own individual capacity? At this point of discourse would the state and political science be relevant. As argued by Marshall and Bottomore (1992, pp.3-49), a civilized lifecomposed of a decent standard of living, education, security, health service, and economic welfare, among othersis a basic social right and must therefore be provided by the state to all its citizens. In this light, development now becomes a right and ceases to be a matter of individual choice. Regardless whether this civilized life would lead to expanded human capacity or not, it should be provided by the state to all its citizens, and therefore the measure of development will have to take a different form, shifting from poor-centered to state-centered indices. Agency will also have to move from non-state to state institutions. Finally, two key factors differentiate Friedmanns alternative development from Sens human development: 1) participation; and 2) self- reliance. Participationdefined as the open and inclusive discussion and decision making involving those directly concerned in the issuemakes alternative development more inclusive than both the economic growth and human development models. Self-reliance or economic independence, on the other hand, enables people to exercise genuine participation without being beholden to anyone (pp.3, 41). For Friedmann, development requires social and political empowerment (p.33); for Sen, social and political freedoms are constituent components of development (p.5). In this case, Friedmanns

Page 13 of 32

proposition presents more wholistically the concept of human capacitation. Again, this differing views would have implication in the way development interventions are delivered. Alternative development would seek the subjects participation in the processpromoting initiative and ownership among the subjectswhile human development would tend to apply top-down, technocratic approach to it.


The Role of Economic Growth in Development Redefined

Despite the development worlds new emphasis on human capacity instead of economics, still some economists like Krueger (2009) asserted economic growth is a prerequisite for sustained and quantitatively significant poverty reduction(in providing the poor with) access to social and economic services that enable them to be productive (p.272). Although they did not insist on measuring development by mere economic indicators, they instead redefined the role of economic growth in the overall scheme of development. Krueger (2009, pp.272-276) argued that redistribution would not be an issue if there were no economic growth in the first place, that is, no issue of redistribution if everybody else in the economy is poor. She further argued that state mechanisms are necessary to stimulate growth (via infrastructure) and redistribute wealth (via taxation). On both accounts, the author is right theoretically. The first argument brings one to question why the Democratic Republic of Congo has been the poorest country in the world since 2010with a gross domestic product (GDP) per capita of US$300, the lowest in the world in the recent yearswhen it is one of the most mineral- and oil-rich countries. Its GDP

Page 14 of 32

grew by 7.2 percent in 2010 and 6.5 percent in 2011the 32nd highest growth rate registered in the world (Central Intelligence Agency). So what gives? In this case, redistribution is an apparent issue. Somebody somewhere must be making profits from it. And as argued by Sachs (2005), economic growth enriches households but it is not taxed sufficiently to enable governments to increase social spendingor even when governments have the revenue, they may neglect the poorest of the poor (p.21). As for the state mechanisms, Filipinos know from experience that infrastructure does not necessarily stimulate economic growth especially if 1) good roads are repaired or reconstructed instead of the bad ones and only the politicians know why; 2) welcome arches and waiting sheds seem to be the priority projects of the municipalities and barangays; and 3) for some reasons, projects that fail to comply with the bids and awards requirements of the procurement law still get implemented. The same thing is true with taxation. It does not necessarily translate to redistribution of wealth. First, collection is quite efficient only in the employed sector, majority of which are the (struggling) middle class. The professionals, more so the business sector, could get away with not paying the right taxes, if not non-payment of taxes at all, and are at times advised that not declaring income would be the best option. Second, corruption within the system, often in the form of negotiated terms (e.g. one pays only a certain percentage of the tax due but no receipt would be issued), makes someone earn and the state lose. Finally, if right taxes are indeed collected, the state mechanism that will distribute the resources to basic services and other developmental interventions is not corruption-proof. Unsurprisingly, the Philippines ranked 129th out of 182 countries as the least corrupt in 2011 by

Page 15 of 32

Transparency International based on Corruption Perception Index, earning a score of 2.6 (zero means high level of corruption and 10, low level). Further, even if there is economic growth as well as redistribution of wealth, Sen argued that high incomes still do not necessarily translate to wellbeing and therefore economic growth does not have to come first before development happens (OHearn, 2009, 3). Sens point is valid; however, wellbeing is likewise not necessarily a consequence of high income. This is perhaps the reason why some sector pushes for happiness quotient as the measure of wellbeing and thus of development. The problem with using happiness quotient as index is its inherent subjectivity; therefore establishing a standard across the globe for comparison (and in support of technocracy) may prove difficult. A case in point that shows the wellbeing is not a necessary consequence of high income is the community in Socorro Island in Surigao del Norte, a fourth class municipality that generate an average total revenue of between Php25 million and Php35 million per annum.2 When asked if there were poor in their community, people would answer none because everyone in the island eats three meals everyday, what with the rich coastal resources available to everyone and anyone at no cost. That is their definition of being non-poor: being able to eat a square meal three times a day. As they say, only the lazy will get hungry in the island. Shelter is not a problem either, as the locals set aside the whole month of July building houses for free for those who need house repairs and/or construction. Each family owns a piece of land that they inherited from their 2 Per income classification based on Department of Finance Department Order No.23-08 effective July 29, 2008
Page 16 of 32

ancestorsalthough these assets are untitled, the community members honor tradition thus land grabbing, as well as squatting, is never heard in the island. Every July, people are required to donate 25 percent to 50 percent of their monthly income or its equivalent labor hours to their religious organization, of which around 95 percent of the population is a member. In turn, this organization uses the money to provide health services, assistance to the needy especially during calamities, and other facilities such as communal swimming pool, rest house, and pump boat, to the community members for free. Despite the limited economic activity in the island that makes the survival of any business investment quite challenging, the locals are not necessarily economic and social poor. This case could also very well represent Friedmanns whole-economy model, where market and non-market forces are at work. The argument of this paper concerning human

development/freedom/wellbeing and its relation to economic growth can be summarized thus: human development is the center of all development and anything that does not contribute to wellbeing is counter-development. Economic growth, for it to become pro-development, must add value to human development in general, and not just generate income to a few individuals or entities. Value here refers to both financial/economic and social benefits net of financial/economic and social costs incurred at the present and to be incurred in the future. Human development cannot be sacrificed in the name of economic growth even if just temporarily, that is, achieve economic growth first and achieve human development later. This philosophy as well is anti-development and is often used to justify destructive economic activities such as mining. The

Page 17 of 32

role of economic development is not discounted at all; it is necessary to make human development sustainable. The pursuit of human and economic development, including social and political development, need not be linear and could be and should be done simultaneously. However, when push comes to shove, human development takes precedence over any development in the hierarchy of goals. Thus, clarity of goals and hierarchy of values must set the direction for any development program or intervention. Equally important is that the development sector guard against failures to anticipate unintended but predictable consequences (Sen, 1999, p.279). Development failure at times happens not because of misguided principles but because of lack of foresight and flawed assumptions.

III. Various Development Issues

A. Education

One of the tools Sen mentioned that increase human capacity is education. However, despite the promotion of access to education, still there are barriers that prevent the households from sending the children to school. These are the notion that education is not a valued capability as far as the parents and communities are concerned, affordability of books and uniforms, the distance to schools, estimated payback of education, and low quality of education characterized by poor facilities and infrastructure, large class size, a complex curriculum structure, and unmotivated teachers (Alkire, n.d., p.11). These barriers are true not only in India, which is cited by Alkire in her work, but also in the Philippines, except perhaps education not being a valued capability.

Page 18 of 32

The arguments in the succeding paragraphs are not yet suported by empirical evidence but is worth testing in the future just the same: the value for education placed by Filipinos may have waned through generations since the post-war era but is still held in relatively high esteem at the present time. As they usually relayed, the members of the older generation, regardless of social class, experienced difficulty going and finishing school. Nevertheless, they had to overcome it, as education is the only legacy their parents could hand over to them. Today, the same struggle and conviction are relayed by the younger generation. There are children who send themselves to school by engaging in family enterprises (e.g. poultry raising and farming), micro-scale entreprises (e.g. food vending and micro trading), or employment, especially in manufacturing of products that require high level of dexterity (thanks to their tiny fingers). Although Alkire (n.d., p.11) claimed that this education-employment tradeoff does not have empirical basis, there have been many cases that children are not sent to school because of income that would have been foregone by the family. So it is not education not being valued per se that prevented children from going to school but it is the choice that parents and families have to make because of their limited resources. However, it is also true that some families place higher value on employment than on their childrens educationa possible reflection of higher value placed on short-term gains than on the long-term returns. This arguent does not overlook, however, those who indeed lack the motivation to go to school perhaps because their anticipated gains on education, even in the long run, is low or even nil. Culture also factors in at times. Take, again, the example of the Socorro Island community. As of 2003, people attributed the perceived low participation rate in tertiary education (i.e. 10

Page 19 of 32

enrollees that year out of an estimated 6,000 youth) to the lack of prospects after collegehouse-building or carpentry is a skill traditionally passed on the next generation so tertiary education would not count for much to the youth. The younger generation were neither motivated to earn more (for example, nobody is exporting or marketing the high-value lobsters that abound the island, not even to the nearby, urbanized Davao City) or do better in life, as practically all their basic needs were provided by the community for freea case supporting Friedmanns idea of household- and community-based economy. The affordability of books and uniforms may not accurately articulate the real issue on barriers to education; a more appropriate term could be the lack of resources in general to sustain the children, which includes their nutrition that is not cited in Alkire. Feeding programs are incorporated in many public schools in the Philippines because many households from where schoolchildren come from are not only income-poor but are also food-poor. This is especially true in the urban areas where barter (e.g. flowers in exchange for fish) or mere compassion (e.g. neighbors sharing food for free) no longer works (they still do in many rural areas though). Lucky if these children eat once a day; others have to take turns with their siblings in partaking the food, ending up eating one meal only every other day. Education is often the top-of-mind capacity enhancing intervention; however, promoting it, ensuring that all children go to school, is not that simple. There are too many intervening factors that taking education as an individual responsibility makes the solution too simplistic. Building once again on Friedmanns proposition, this paper argues that development concerns such as

Page 20 of 32

literacy and basic skills can be better understood and thus addressed if considered in the context of household and community dynamics.



Linked to education is the issue of employment and the prospects it can offer to the youth, which is often the gauge of return of investment in education. The International Labor Organization (ILO) report shows that unemployment rate among the youth is higher than the adult rate. Aside from the numbers provided, what is also alarming is the detrimental impact of unemployment on the future employability and wages of the youth (International Labor Office, 2012). This issue, however, could be contextualized for a more meaningful discourse, at least for the Philippines, as regional figures may not be so helpful in the analysis. The country has been so much influenced by the neoliberal thinking that employment simply becomes a result of market forces. Despite the protective labor laws, private employers can still do a way with right sizing and since the 1997 Asian financial crisis, the term consultant has taken a new meaning to refer to contractual employees. Big service companies can afford to offer five- month contracts to employees over the decades of their operation because of the excess supply of labor in the marketloyalty, performance, institutional history, and human technology never seem to figure into their hiring and firing policies. This condition is true not only for the jobs that require manual labor or low level of skills; this practice is done in any employers market (or where employers have more bargaining power than the employees). Contractual employees are much cheaper than the regular ones so they are good for the businesses bottom

Page 21 of 32

line. The youth therefore could only look forward to jobs, not careers, not even to long-term employment. On the other hand, market mechanism does not seem to work in matching supply and demand in specific job types. It is also true that some cases prove that the education system has not prepared the employees enough to meet the requirements of the job market. For example, while many believe that English proficiency is the Filipinos prime competitive advantage over other Asians, companies that are engaged in business process outsourcing (or call centers) have experienced that only 10 percent of their recruitment pool can actually understand and speak good English. To address this concern, these companies have to expand their pool of applicants in order to meet their manpower requirements; that, or they set up their own English school or they end up pirating people from one another. Further, when nurses and information technology (IT) professional were in demand in the international market, everyone seemed to have preferred nursing and IT in college, precisely because of the potential high return on investment in education. Sadly, however, there is an inherent lag of at least 8 to 10 years (that account for the years of college education, licensure exam for nurses, and required years of work experience) before supply can catch up with the demand. Thus, decades later when global demand has dropped, the country now has an oversupply of (unemployed) nurses and IT people. Other cases are the next generation farmers who are also lacking in numbers, as they now seek to be employed in jobs that pay better and are less physically demanding than farming. There is also the missing middle or the lack of supply of specialist

Page 22 of 32

middle managers in the country, which is a consequence of the countrys labor export strategy for years. Aside from the market forces that seem to have failed, there are also other issues that aggravate youth unemployment in the country that is not mentioned in the ILO report. Among these issues is mobility, which is very neoliberal in nature. While the members of the older generation did dream of working only in one for the rest of their lives, this is something unimaginable among the young. In the past, loyalty was rewarded and wisdom from experience was honored; today, moving from one employer to another is believed to jack up ones market value and staying too long in one company would spell stagnation. Another issue is longevity, or the lack of it. It is not uncommon now that sabbatical leave is, ironically, taken after only a year of work or two. While in the past it was so unsettling to resign from work without the assurance of next employment, now it has become acceptable and perhaps has even become a trend to be in- between jobs for a number of years. The difference between the unemployed and those who decided to get out of the labor force (i.e. those who do not intend to find a job) therefore must be captured in the development indicators. This paper can only bring light to this specific issuewhich are, again, better understood not in economic terms but in socio-anthropological perspectiveand cannot and will not attempt to provide any recommendation.


Women in Development

Human development acknowledges the role of women in political, economic, social participation, and leadership (Sen, 1999, pp199-202), citing the

Page 23 of 32

story of the Grameen Banks extension of micro loans to women in Bangladesh. Although Sen made his point clear that women becoming engaged in these arenas did make a difference in terms of their own and their communitys development, what he failed to mention was that access to loans per se did not do the magic. According to Muhammed Yunus (2007, p.62), founder of Grameen Bank, the support group of like-minded women in similar economic and social conditions was crucial because having access to micro loans is breaking a whole gamut of cultural barriers. It is not quite true that women suffered from disadvantage brought about by discriminatory treatment in the rural credit market (Sen, 1999, p.201); all Bangladeshi women, even the rich ones, could not access credit without their husbands because the banking system was created for men (Yunus, 1999, p.71). There is more to their culture than simply not extending credit to women. All Bangladeshi women could not leave their houses without their husbands or any male member of their family; all of them could not have any possession and money matters are handled by men; and in times of hunger and famine, it is an unwritten law that women have to starve. Anytime he wishes, a Bangladeshi man can divorce his wife. Hence, when micro loans were first introduced, Grameen Bank faced opposition both from the government officials and the religious leaders and created chaos within the households of borrowing women because their husbands wanted the money for themselves. It also had to convince and enable the women to enter the territory traditionally reserved only for men (Yunus, 1999, pp.72-76).

Page 24 of 32

The Grameen Bank experience only proves the following points: 1) It is crucial to understand development from the perspective of the subjects, in this case, the Bangladeshi women. Even if access to credit was readily given to them, they still had to contend with so many socio-cultural issues before they could make that single decision to borrow money and actually use the money. Without education and support system that went with the micro loans, no Bangladeshi woman would have availed of them. 2) Consistent with Friedmanns proposition, Grameen Bank addressed the issue of poverty both at the household and community levels, and it worked. 3) Sens work is lacking not only in historical perspective but in cultural understanding as well. The danger in taking similar narrow stance in development management is prescribing solutions without really understanding what in the successful practice works and why it works and under what conditions it will work if replicatedthus, with this mindset becoming prevalent, micro loans has become a panacea for poverty. Another gender-related issue is population control, discussed side by side with womens rights. The goal is the achievement of gender equality between men and women, with the latter often disadvantaged in education, employment, and even property rights. These rights, when women begin to enjoythat is, women have become empoweredare said to have strong effect in reducing fertility (Sen, 199, p.225). However, freedom of women in Sens discussion appears to be limited to that freedom affected by too frequent childbearing and child rearing (p.226), and to their voice to decide whether to have an abortion or not to have an abortion and to decide on other matters that directly involve the womans body (p.211).

Page 25 of 32

While it is only but right to let the women decide on matters that directly affect them, physically and otherwise, the flipside of this argument is that women are held mainly responsible for birth/population control. The phrases power of womens agency in helping to reduce fertility rates (p.202) and decisional powers of parents, particularly mothers (p.225) is far from empowering; instead, they shift the burden to women, which in itself is a form of inequality. It is short of saying that if a woman gets pregnant, it is her fault. Having the power to decide whether to have an abortion or not is a quite contrived sense of empowermentin the first place women should have the power to decide whether to serve their marital duties or not. Unwanted or unplanned child bearing is merely a consequence, not the cause, of womens disempowerment in the marital or household setup. In the same light, fertility per se is not the problem but the practice or behavior over which a capacitated woman should have the power to decide. In the Philippines, the Reproductive Health (RH) Bill has long been a topic of debate and various women sectors are divided when it comes to this issue. While many believe that this policy will advance womens rights, others believe otherwisea point that is seldom presented in fora, if at all. The latter faction arguesa position that this paper also takesthat if women are given the capacity to manage the consequence of marital duties, that is, they have all the means that could prevent pregnancy, then all the more they have no reason to say no to marital duties since they would not get pregnant anyway. In this scenario, the women are only disempowered even more. Real empowerment should enable the women to manage, control, and have power to decide over both the consequence and the cause of their dilemma.

Page 26 of 32


The Role of Innovation in Development

When Sachs (2005) mentioned lack of innovation as one of the reasons why countries fail to achieve economic growth, he was referring to industrial product innovation. He argued that even in this area there is an apparent inequality between the rich and the poor in that inventors in impoverished countries do not have incentive to come up with new products because the local market does not have enough purchasing power to enable the inventors recoup their initial investments in research and development (p.10). This argument is not necessarily true. First, there is no dearth of invention in a developing country like the Philippines. The Department of Science and Technologys Technology Application and Promotion Institute (TAPI) has a long list of local inventions. For 2011 alone, it was able to generate 832 entries for the annual regional invention contest; this figure did not include yet the inventions listed from its school and LGU tie-up programs and sector-based (agriculture, industry, business) initiatives (TAPI-DOST). The problem is that not all inventors are entrepreneurs or businessmen who can bring the products into the market. Second, the local market does have purchasing power; if not, why would sachet industry thrive in the Philippines? Only that the cash flow of the majority of the local market who belong to the base of the economic pyramid does not match the price of product, thus the sachet industry was born. Finally, the base of the local market provides the volume required for economies of scale; if not, why are the big multi-national corporations now going to the barangay level (no, not through the traditional distributors, but they are doing this themselves) to compete directly with the sari-sari stores? Perhaps, what Sachs was implying as cause for his perceived low

Page 27 of 32

level of research and innovation is the usual product-market mismatch (i.e. high- end product for the low-end market). What Sachs missed out in his analysis was that aside from new products, innovation may also include processes, policies, and social innovation, which is not driven by consumerism and is in fact social value-adding or socially beneficial. For example, the mobile phone is a product innovation that had led to process innovation. The result: mobile banking is now available in far-flung areas that cannot be reached yet by the regular, infrastructure-based banks. In line with this technological change, policy innovation took the form of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinass (BSP) allowing non-bank entities to become mobile bank agents under certain conditions. The goal is the promotion of financial inclusion. Mobile banking and electronic money (e-money) are one of the most, if not the most popular example of social value-adding innovation that has achieved scale (in a relatively short time at that) perhaps because it does not require physical transfer of product and has therefore leapfrogged the common constraints posed by the lack of infrastructure in the country. Micro credit, micro insurance, and micro savings are also often cited as financial product innovations that have benefitted the poor and reached scale. Innovation is crucial because it changes the rules of the game both in the market and in development spheres. Aside from the big companies reaching out to the base of the pyramid, the social enterprise sector is also making waves in introducing social innovation. However, three things seem to hinder widespread adoption of innovative products (such as solar bulb, plastic school building, water filter, dengue-preventive mosquito net, among others): 1) limited production capacity of the manufacturers; 2) physical distribution to the

Page 28 of 32

infrastructure-challenged, low-end markets; and 3) low level of social marketing to address the markets natural resistance to change and need for education. Some government agencies such as the BSP have acknowledged that innovation is the private sectors turf and that the most that government can do is to provide a policy environment that encourages innovation.

IV. Notes on the Contemporary Approach to Development Analysis and Measures

In Sumner and Tribe (2009, p.17), post-modernists argued that development discourse categorize people in order to control them through the creation of problematic categories. This argument may not be true in cases earlier cited (Yunus and the Philippine practice discussed under Individual versus Household section) where segmentation of the poor sector could lead to better understanding of their plight and thus to more responsive interventions. Moreover, averages and aggregationsbecause averages smoothen the curve and aggregations put everything in a single framein the measure of either economic or human development, do not paint an accurate picture of what is being described and measured, thus it makes more sense to do cluster, factor, or category analysis instead. On the other hand, macro categories such as regional division (e.g. Southeast Asia and the Pacific, South Asia, Western Asia, Central Asia, etc.) and income level (middle income, lower middle income, upper middle income, etc.), unless there are distinct variables that differentiate one category from another, do not tell much. Besides, who are the decision makers to whom these data are

Page 29 of 32

relevant? Unless the regions are as cohesive and organized as the European Union with a governing body of its own, macro-level data would only be relevant to the donor agencies who need to know where to place their funds, but not so much to the development policy makers and practitioners who can effect change in their respective locations. The availability and quality data for development indicators are also problematic. For one, the reliability and integrity of enumerators (not the employed methodology and statistical measures) are always questioned. Two, with the Millennium Development Goals 18 targets and 47 indicators, the margin of error in data collection is likely to increase. Finally, there are equally valid indicators of say, human development, that are not quantitativecultural activities and diversity, inclusion, and self-respect to name a few (Sen, 1979, 1985 in Alkire, n.d., p.4). In alternative development, it would be empowerment and social capital. Even using proxy-indicators for these variables does not guarantee the availability and reliability of the required information. Finally, despite the evolution of development theories and approaches, still many, if not all, well-meaning development agents seem to have the know-it- all, messianic attitude that make them impose their values on the subjects. This scenario happens not only between developed and developing countries, or between funding agencies and aid-recipient countries, but also at the field level, that is, between the development practitioners and the communities. This practice could be due to the thinking that the top-down approach is the fastest way to go (so they go back to economics); however, the fastest is not necessarily the most effective or does not necessarily create the highest impact.

Page 30 of 32


Summary and Conclusion

The paper examined various development issueseducation,

employment, women/gender, and innovation with poverty as the overarching theme throughout. The discussion of each issue shows that putting human development at the center stage and choosing theories, principles and frameworks on which to build it have implications on the way interventions are programmed (inclusion versus exclusion of certain groups, differentiating rights versus freedom, taking individual versus household and community perspective, use of structures versus respect for culture, targeting moneyed market versus the base of the pyramid), implemented (building on politics versus technocracy, using top-down versus participatory approach), and measured (economic growth versus non-economic measures of development). As the subjects are given voice more and the process becoming more participative, as they should be, development programs have likewise become more localized, differentiated, and diverse, and thus more responsive to the needs of the subjects. There are no more one-size-fits-all solutions or a single, grand formula to address social concerns. Thus, with this shift in trends, inter-sector cooperation and inter- agency collaboration has become critical and no one entity (should be) dominating the development process. Finally, any well-meaning intention is not sufficient to achieve the desired social objectives; foresight and managing potential risks are just as important as effective implementing mechanisms. Development failures are often results not of misguided principles but of flawed assumptions and myopic projections.

Page 31 of 32


Alkire, S. (n.d.). Development A Misconceived Theory Can Kill. (C. Morris, Ed.) Retrieved 2012 7-June from wp11.pdf Central Intelligence Agency. (n.d.). The World Fact Book. Retrieved 2012 17-June from Central Intelligence Agency website: Friedmann, J. (1992). Empowerment: The Politics of Alternative Development. Malden, Massachussetts, USA: Blackwell Publishers Inc. International Labor Office. (2012). Global Employment Trends for Youth 2012. International Labor Office. Geneva: International Labor Organization. Krueger, A. (2009). From despair to hope: the challenge of promoting poverty reduction. Progress in Development Studies , 9 (4), 269-84. Marshall, T. H., & Bottomore, T. (1992). Citizenship and Social Class. Concord and Massachussetts: Pluto Press. Municipality of Socorro. (2003 June). BUNGA , Special Edition. Socorro, Philippines: Municipality of Socorro. Nederveen Pieterse, J. (2010). Development Theory. Sage Publication. O'Hearn, D. (2009 Spring). Amartya Sen's Development as Freedom: Ten Years Later. Retrieved 2012 7-June from Policy and Practice A Development Education Review: Sachs, J. (2005). Why Some Countries Fail to Thrive. In The End of Poverty (pp. 1- 23). New York, USA: Penguin Press. Sen, A. (1999). Development as Freedom. New York, USA: Anchor Books. Sumner, A., & Tribe, M. (2008). International Development Studies Theories and Methods in Resear ch and Practice. Sage. TAPI-DOST. (n.d.). News. Retrieved 2012 19-June from Technology Application and Promotion Institute: Transparency International. (2011). Corruption Perception Index 2011. Retrieved 2012 17-June from Corruption Perception Index website: Yunus, M. (2007). Banker to the Poor. New York, New York, USA: Public Affairs.

Page 32 of 32