Of late there have been a couple of scathing posts on Swaminomics articles, one related to demographic dividend in India and the other on advantages of poverty. To indicate my disagreement with the stand taken I would like to provide four points.
- Atanu’s points on numeracy are well taken. However they miss the context of the article. Especially one assumption seems to have gone wrong. Swami is not comparing people in India vis-a-vis people in China. But within India and within China. The relative status of an Indian vis-a-vis other Indians will be benefited by the demographic dividends. That is what Swami wants to convey.
- Another point made is about the mismatch between people and resources. The answer is not a clear yes. Given good economic policies (and this is stated by Swami in his article) there may be no chance of a mismatch. Even given curent policies the measure of mismatch may be uncalculable. There is a nice book by Joel Cohen titled “How many people can the earth support?” which captures this limitation. As a reviewer notes, “the number and nature of the assumptions necessary for any calculation of maximum sustainable human populations size make any final estimate debatable.” Of course one can come up with estimates of limited scope but they are only based on present conditions and not possible better conditions. But no modeler worth his salt can confidently provide estimates of that!
- Finally there is a lot of criticism about the use of Lalu in Swami’s article. Swami is a journalist and then an economist. Once doesnt always need a PhD to be an economist. Good communicators use communication props (Lalu in this case) to get their point noticed and drive it home. Lalu in the article is mentioned only in the first and last paras. Reading too much into it is missing the wood for the trees.
- As for the recent post, I didnt find any point in it to critique.