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Global Development and Poverty Reduction

The Challenge for International Institutions

Edited by John-ren Chen and David Sapsford

At the beginning of the third millennium, underdevelopment and poverty continue to remain critical problems on a global scale. The purpose of this volume is to explore the various ways in which the institutions of the global economy might rise to the challenges posed by the twin goals of increasing the pace of global development and alleviating poverty.
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Chapter 2: Designing the Role of International Institutions in Raising the Standard of Living in the Developing World

John-Ren Chen


John-ren Chen I INTRODUCTION: THE LEVEL OF LIVING AND THE STANDARD OF LIVING Modern development economics deals with special economic problems of backward countries to find out the reasons for economic underdevelopment and to propose policy measures to strengthen their economic progress and to improve their social welfare. The concept of the standard of living has increasingly approached the economists’ idea of welfare in development economics. Early in the post-World War II period, a narrower concept of the standard of living, that is, the level of living, which was typically conceived in purely material terms and used real GDP per capita as the primary measure, was widely used in development economics as a measure of social welfare. The standard of living depends on a wide variety of both pecuniary and non-pecuniary circumstances as well as both the material and non-material terms to include the most important issues: what people want out of life. Many indicators have been considered as sources of well-being, such as the level of living (GDP per capita), length of life (life expectancy at birth), education, human rights and so on. Hadley Cantril (1965), a social psychologist, has used the level of living, family, health, values, job, social and international issues, status quo and political issues as indicators to represent the social well-being of countries. Cantril published the results of an incentive survey about these indicators (see Easterlin, 2000, p. 9, Table 1). In his paper, Easterlin, following Cantril, uses these indicators of the standard of living...

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