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ECON322: The Covid-19 Pandemic is a Cautionary Tale For Deca...

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November 29, 2023

ECON322: The Covid-19 Pandemic is a Cautionary Tale For Decades Scientists Have Been Predicting just Such a Pandemic: Econometric Analysis Assignment, NWU, South Africa


Case study

The Covid-19 pandemic is a cautionary tale. For decades scientists have been predicting just such a pandemic, pointing to the rise of new diseases that jump from animals to humans, and the virus that causes Covid-19 is likely one. Indeed, the increasing transmission of disease from wildlife to humans reflects the pressures we are putting on the planet.

It is a tale of the risks we confront as we go deeper into a new reality described as the Anthropocene, the age of humans, with the unprecedented planetary change in scope, scale, and speed—driven by human activity posing risks to people and all forms of life.

But the risks do not affect everyone in the same way. Covid-19 was superimposed on a world with wide and growing inequalities in human development. And it is driving deeper wedges between those more able and those less able to cope.

Meanwhile, the underlying drivers of shocks such as Covid-19 are rooted ultimately in unbalanced interactions between people and the planet. And these drivers feed off the imbalances in opportunities, wealth, and power across people and countries.

Confronting this new reality of a self-reinforcing cycle of social imbalances and of planetary imbalances (the dangerous planetary change for people and all forms of life) calls for reimagining the human development journey (where do we want to  go?)  It also calls for applying the human development approach to longstanding debates on sustainability (how do we want to get there?). The human development journey enlarging people’s abilities and opportunities to be and do what they have reason to value

must be considered in the context of an unprecedented moment in human history and in the planet’s history. The human development approach sets out an evaluative framework for development outcomes based on expanding capabilities, thus increasing wellbeing freedoms, the valuable opportunities to choose from. This takes us beyond notions of sustainability based on needs fulfillment and away from focusing on instrumental objectives such as economic growth.

This chapter argues that a human development approach invites us to look beyond sustaining needs to expanding capabilities. To see people as agents—who act and bring about change. And to evaluate people’s achievements in terms of their own values and goals.

In that expansion and perspective lay both the goal of the human development journey and, instrumentally, the means to widen the scope of potential actions to change the drivers of pressures on the planet. In a broader set of motivations for human behavior, market incentives, as well as values, dignity, and sense of worth, are all important. Ultimately, people are agents of their individual and collective destiny, able to drive social change.

For the first time in our history the most serious and immediate, even existential, risks are human-made and unfolding at a planetary scale. The chapter argues that this new reality calls for reimagining the human development journey and leveraging the human development approach to support transformational social changes to ease pressures on the planet.

The nature and process of change will be contested, resisted, promoted, and driven by varied interests and values. This Report mobilizes human development analysis to marshal evidence and suggests options for individual and collective choices on how to redress both social and planetary imbalances.

Thirty years ago the first Human Development Report placed people as the ultimate end of development. “People are the real wealth of nations,” read the first line. It is time to draw on that real wealth of nations to transform our world, as called for in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Source: United Nations Development Programme. 2020. Human Development Report.


Based on your careful reading of the excerpt above, answer the following question:

Evaluate the authors’ stance on development. In order to get started, it is suggested that you:

  • Identify at least one school of thought from this excerpt.
  • Cite from the case study to prove your classification and justify why you are interpreting the citation in the way that you have.
  • Build on your evaluation from there

Remember that the aim of this practice assignment is for you to start practicing the ability to demonstrate that you are able to effectively integrate knowledge gained this semester

show the interconnections between the different topics you have engaged with). Given the word limitations, remember that you are trying to find a balance between providing depth to your evaluation, whilst demonstrating breadth by showing that you understand how your evaluation is linked to other aspects you may not be able to focus on in such detail.

As such you might want to focus on one or two criteria upon which to base your evaluation within the context of the case study information provided. This should allow you to order your thoughts so that you can focus on certain aspects, rather than feeling you need to address all possible conceptualizations of economic development in 400 words.

Remember that marking takes place strictly according to the Mini Case Study marking rubric provided – please ensure that you read through the marking rubric and address the criteria provided in the rubric in your answer.

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