Press J to jump to the feed. Press question mark to learn the rest of the keyboard shortcuts
Found the internet!

Ask Economics


Posted by20 minutes ago

Here are two recent sources describing a reduction in at least some of China's infrastructure programs relating to Africa:

Both sources basically said that the Chinese government has invested a lot in hard infrastructure in various parts of Africa, but that they are now moving away from this to some extent. Is that true? Is that bad? Is it a big deal? If so, what should be done about it?

  • I'm asking about a region with >1 billion people. If you have an answer about a specific part of Africa, or about other places in a similar situation with respect to China and infrastructure, I'm interested. I don't need a comprehensive answer that applies to all of Africa.

  • I'm in the US, but from what I understand there is still a great need for hard infrastructure in many parts of Africa, and still not enough local capacity to finance or build it. The hosts of the podcast didn't seem too concerned, but they were also focusing on other issues.

  • One reason that they gave on the podcast for this shift away from hard infrastructure was the limited borrowing capacity of many African countries (combined with the riskiness and slowness of these projects), leading them and their Chinese partners to look for quicker and safer investments in ICT and things like that. How important is that?

  • I've also seen discussion about Chinese fears of possible backlash against social, labor, and environmental problems that are more common with hard infrastructure compared to other types of investment. How important is that?

  • The linked article said that part of the reason for this shift away from hard infrastructure is the economic difficulties in China. How important is that? That seems like something that could reverse, I don't know.

  • This is all based on the assumption that Chinese hard infrastructure investment is (still) significant in Africa. This seems self-evident, but maybe I'm blowing things out of proportion. I'm not really sure of the magnitudes.

  • I'm also vaguely aware that the Chinese government (like others) has various different development programs with overlapping missions and different names, so maybe observers are mistaking some name changes and reorganizations for retrenchment? Not sure.

1 comment
Posted by20 hours ago
Posted by4 hours ago
Posted by22 hours ago
Posted by9 hours ago

For those who aren't familiar with the website, MeasuringWorth is a website that provides (or claims to provide) comparators that allow users to determine the value of a given price/amount of money from a particular year in a different year, using several other "measures of worth", apart from the CPI and the GDP deflator. You can find an essay written by one of the founders that explains these measures in more detail here. (The site also provides historical datasets on things like GDP, CPI, and wages, but I'm mainly focusing on the comparators in this post.)

Now, as a sceptical fan of MeasuringWorth and its comparators who is also currently studying economics, I've had this question sitting around in my head for a while, but haven't been able to find an answer so far. I've done a bit of preliminary searching on Dimensions AI about the website and its purported citations in scholarly sources (which, after researching, seem to be genuine), and found that the journals that they're published in do seem to be legit, according to the Norwegian Scientific Index. The website's founder also seems to have been consulted by PolitiFact (an internationally accredited US fact-checking website) here and here, and cited in some other news sources (which I will also need to check the credibility of), such as Huffpost and Brookings.

However, as far as I can tell, most of the journal publications that do cite MeasuringWorth primarily use it for the CPI calculator or the datasets, not the alternative comparators, and I'm pretty sure that news websites and fact-checkers are not economists. That brings me to the title of this post: how do mainstream/orthodox economists view the alternative comparators on MeasuringWorth, and are the comparators part of mainstream economics or not?

1 comment

About Community

A central repository for questions about economic theory, research, and policy. Please read the rules before posting, as we remove all comments which break the rules. Answers must be in-depth and comprehensive, or they will be removed.
Created Mar 31, 2011





r/AskEconomics Rules

Rule I

Please be respectful in the comments. Personal attacks and insults are not allowed. Offending comments will be removed and repeat offenders may be banned. Please report any violating comments to the mods.

Rule II

All claims (and especially claims in top-level comments) should be rooted in economic theory and empirical research - not opinions, anecdotes, lay speculation, or personal politics. It is strongly recommended that claims be sourced by citations to applicable research. If your comment begins with "This is just my opinion, but..." or any variation, it will nearly always be removed. Top-level comments by non-approved users must be manually approved by a mod before they appear.

Rule IV

This is not a subreddit for homework questions. If you have questions about homework problems, please submit them to /r/econhw. This includes "what should I write my paper about?" and "how do I write a paper about this topic?" questions.

By the same token, this is not a subreddit to find a tutor. Do not ask for tutoring, paid or otherwise, or for other users' contact information to arrange tutoring off of reddit.

Rule V

No "Soapboxing" or loaded questions. This is AskEconomics, not DebateEconomics. Questions should be reasonably specific, not debate prompts or long manifestos. Posts primarily seeking to push an agenda or start arguments rather than seeking answers to questions will be removed.

Rule VI: Stock Tips

This is not a subreddit for stock tips and investment / personal finance advice. Please do not ask which stocks are best, what certain stock-related subreddits are doing, etc. (r/AskEconomics is in no way affiliated with any subreddits whose name contains the word "bets.")

Personal finance questions are better directed to a personal finance subreddit.

Community Information

Looking for reading material/suggestions, or for career advice? Try the /r/economics wiki for books, blogs, and careers. For a good reading list of academic papers, see here for an undergraduate level list and for the truly ambitious see here.

Do you have relevant expertise or experience in economics? Apply for quality contributor flair here.

Reddit Economics Network

Subreddit Subject
/r/Economics General economics discussion and news
/r/AskEconomics Got a question about economics? We'll try to answer it!
/r/BadEconomics Share examples of bad, ill-informed, or just silly economics


Looking to contribute? See instructions and a list of topics needing coverage here


Moderator list hidden. Learn More