LAHORE - While some projects may be small, they can have a profound impact on the lives of those they target, far beyond their cost, speakers emphasised on the last day of the 3rd Annual South Asia Growth Conference organised by the International Growth Centre (IGC).
Top policymakers and researchers from across South Asia have joined leading experts in Lahore to debate the latest ideas for stimulating economic growth in South Asia at a conference hosted by the IGC in conjunction with the Planning and Development Department Punjab and the Ministry of Planning, Development and Reforms. The conference provides a platform for the presentation of research undertaken by the IGC South Asia country programmes, and promotes regional dialogue with policymakers who are able to comment on the relevance and findings of IGC research and allows researchers to incorporate these comments into their work.
The first presentation of the day was by Dr. Jeffrey Hammer (Princeton University) who studied sanitation in urban slums in India. He was followed by Dr. Tahir Andrabi (Pomona College) who analysed the impact of the 2005 Pakistan Earthquake on child development - finding huge effects on child height and test-scores. Finally, Dr. Karthik Muralidharan (University of California San Diego) joined us via video link to discuss his project that provided a bicycle to girls in India-Bihar, finding an increase in girls’ enrolment (by 30%) and exam attendance. Discussants from Gonoshasthaya Kendra & Oxus Investments and Research emphasised how only small changes to the lives of people can have a profound impact, far beyond their cost.
The discussion then moved to discuss technology adoption, manufacturing and microfinance.
Dr. Eric Verhoogen (Columbia University) presented a study which found that while new technology can reduce the cost of producing soccer balls in Pakistan, employees need incentives to use it.
Dr. Christopher Woodruff (University of Warwick) then discussed his work on the garment sector in Bangladesh, finding that substantial differences in productivity exist not only across and within countries, but also between production lines in the same firm. Dr. Kunal Sen (University of Manchester) followed with an interesting discussion on the informal sector in India, especially analysing the productivity of such firms. Finally, Dr. Dilip Mookherjee (Boston University) joined via video link to present his paper on microfinance lending in Indian agriculture, and the credit constraints farmers face. The discussants, including Azfar Hasan (Matrix Sourcing) and Dr. Ayesha Pasha (MPA Punjab) sought to bring together lessons for the disadvantaged.