Freedom, Markets, and Well-being Fall 2019

The UN


The capabilities approach was formulated for the purpose of evaluating international development. What should the goals of development be: increasing GDP or improving capabilities? That raises the questions about whether there is such a thing as a cross-cultural standard and whether the capabilities is such a standard.

There are another set of questions about implementing programs on a global scale. That’s where today’s reading comes into play. We talked about the history of the UN and the difference between private charity and government action.

Because we were preparing for our next session, with Isobel Coleman, Professor Brown briefly described her work and we came up with some sample questions to ask her.

The class ended with a tantalizing description of a wild paper about plough agriculture and the status of women thousands of years later (Alesina, Guiliano, and Nunn 2013).


Alesina, Alberto, Paola Guiliano, and Nathan Nunn. 2013. “On the Origins of Gender Roles: Women and the Plough.” The Quarterly Journal of Economics 128: 469–530.