Professors Minkler and Prakash publish in the Journal of Comparative Economics

Professor Minkler and Professor Prakash’s paper titled “The Role of Constitutions on Poverty: A Cross-National Investigation” has been accepted by the Journal of Comparative Economics. In this paper, they construct and use a new historical data set on economics and social rights from the constitutions of 195 countries and an instrument variable strategy to answer two important questions.

First, do economic and social rights provisions in constitutions reduce poverty, measured as headcount income and health outcomes? Second, does the strength of constitutional language of the economic and social rights matter? Constitutional provisions can be framed either more weakly as directive principles or more strongly as enforceable law.

The results suggest three findings. First, they do not find an association between constitutional rights generally framed and poverty. Second, they do not find an association between economic and social rights framed as directive principles and poverty. Third, they do find a strong negative association between economic and social rights framed as enforceable law and poverty when we use legal origins as our IV. These results persist for indices of constitutional rights and also when they restrict the sample to non-OECD countries. The policy implication is that constitutional provisions framed as enforceable law provide effective meta-rules with incentives for policymakers to initiate, fund, monitor and enforce poverty reduction policies.

Panel presentation featured on UConn Today

The panel discussion held on Wednesday, November 16, 2011 was featured in articles on UConn Today and in the Daily Campus.  Professors Carstensen, Lanza, Minkler, Ross, and Wright led a discussion (moderated by Department Head Metin Cosgel) about the state of the U.S. economy and possible improvements.

Workshop to address state of economic rights

The Economic & Social Rights Research Group (ESRG) of the UConn Human Rights Institute will be hosting its annual workshop this Saturday. This year’s theme is to investigate the status of each economic right. Lead by Prof. Minkler as well as Prof. Hertel from Political Sciences, the members of the group and its associates will meet in Room 304B of the Student Union all day with an agenda comprising 18 presentation. The department contributes three, with Prof. Randolph on the right to food, Adjunct Prof. Derek Johnson on the right to education and Prof. Zimmermann on the right to social security.

The Economics Rights Group Holds its 4th Annual Day Long Workshop

The Economic Rights Group (ERG), consisting of about 16 UConn faculty from six different departments including economics, and 10 Affiliated faculty from around the US, holds its 4th annual day long workshop on Saturday April 17. The topic of this workshop is the measurement of government effort towards economic rights fulfillment. It will investigate three measurement approaches: regression residuals, the production possibilities frontier, and the budgetary approach. Economics faculty member Susan Randolph developed the production possibilities approach along with ERG affiliate Sakiko Fukuda-Parr from the New School, while another ERG affiliate, Dave Richards of the University of Memphis, was central in developing the residual approach. Economics faculty member Lanse Minkler has done budget work on the right to employment in the US, following in the footsteps of pioneer and ERG affiliate Phil Harvey of Rutgers University. The group will explore the extent to which ERG should focus on its activities on economic rights measurement, and also an emerging relationship with a prominent Non-Government Organization working on economic rights, the National Economic and Social Rights Initiative, directed by ERG affiliate Cathy Albisa. The afternoon sessions will feature new research presentations by ERG affiliates.

People interested in attending the meeting should contact Prof. Minkler.

Economic Rights Panels at Upcoming Human Rights in the USA Conference

Human Rights in the USA is an international three-day conference from October 22 to 24 that takes place at both the Storrs and Law School campuses. Three Economic Rights panels will explore issues surrounding the right to an adequate standard of living (details follow). The entire UConn community is invited to attend the conference and to learn about the state of the art research in human rights and economic rights.

Friday, October 23, 2009, UConn Law School, Hartford

Economic Rights and Poverty
Chair: Shareen Hertel, University of Connecticut.
Discussants: Ken Neubeck, University of Connecticut Emeritus, and Susan Randolph, University of Connecticut

  • Catherine Albisa, National Economic and Social Rights Initiative. “Drawing Lines in the Sand: The Development of New Rights Norms in the United States.”
  • Philip Harvey, Rutgers University School of Law, Camden. “A Rights-Based Anti-Recession Strategy: What American Progressives Learned from the New Deal and then Forgot.”
  • Rhoda Howard-Hassmann, Wilfred Laurier University. “The Yellow Sweatshirt: Human Dignity and Economic Human Rights in Advanced Industrial Democracies.”
  • Gillian MacNaughton, University of Oxford. “A Holistic Human Rights Perspective on Poverty.”

Saturday, October 24, 2009. University of Connecticut, Storrs Campus, Rome Ballroom

Katrina through an Economic Rights Lens
Chair: Evelyn Simien, University of Connecticut
Discussants: Sakiko Fukuda-Parr, The New School and Heather Turcotte, University of Connecticut

  • Davida Finger, Loyola University New Orleans College of Law, Rachel Luft, University of New Orleans “Post Hurricane Katrina Evacuation and Housing Policy: A Human Rights and Social Movements’ Analysis.”
  • Hope Lewis, Northeastern University School of Law. “Transnationalism and Human Rights in the U.S.: Notes from the Afro-Caribbean Diaspora.”
  • Kristen Lewis, Social Science Research Council, American Human DevelopmentProject. “A Portrait of Louisiana: Louisiana Human Development Report 2009.”

Researching Economic Rights in the USA
Chair: David Richards, University of Memphis
Discussants: David Richards, University of Memphis and Lyle Scruggs, University of Connecticut

  • David Cingranelli, SUNY-Binghamton. “Measuring and Explaining the Gap between ILO Standards and US Labor Policies.”
    Patrick Heidkamp, Southern Connecticut State University. “Measuring Economic Rights in the USA: A Spatial Analytic Perspective.”
  • Lanse Minkler, University of Connecticut. “On the Cost of Economic Rights in the US.”
  • Susan Randolph, University of Connecticut. “Economic Rights in the Land of Plenty: Monitoring State Fulfillment of Economic & Social Rights Obligations in the United States.”

For more information about Human Rights in the USA go to the conference website.

Economic Rights Group Begins 6th Year

Initiated by Lanse Minkler (Economics) (IDEAS) and Shareen Hertel (Political Science) (IDEAS) in the fall of 2004, the Economic Rights Group (ERG) has grown to include sixteen UCONN faculty members and nine “Affilitate” scholars. Participating Economics faculty also include Samson Kimenyi, Susan Randolph (IDEAS), Christian Zimmermann (IDEAS), and, most recently, Thomas Miceli. But the group also features a wide range of scholars from departments and schools like Political Science, Sociology, and Geography, to Law, Social Work, and Medicine. The ERG operates under the umbrella of the Human Rights Institute, itself a result of the Human Rights Initiative of the university.

The central purpose of the ERG is to investigate issues surrounding the fundamental human right of to a decent standard of living, as described in article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The group meets four or five times a semester to discuss seminal readings, and increasingly to consider original research generated by ERG members. Some of that research is included in the nascent ERG Working Paper Series. Additionally, the group meets at an annual day-long workshop to intensively investigate a specific topic annually. At this past April’s most recent ERG workshop in April 2009, for example, ERG members and affiliates presented their research on the state of economic rights in the U.S. The topic of the 2009 workshop mirrors the upcoming conference to be sponsored by the Human Rights Institute, entitled Human Rights in the USA.

Human Rights in the USA is an international three-day conference will take place from October 22 to October 24 that takes place at both the Storrs and Law School campuses. While we often think of human rights violations as only occurring elsewhere, the purpose this conference is to assess the state of human rights right here at home. There will be three economic rights themed panels: Economic Rights and Poverty; Katrina Through an Economic Rights Lens; and Researching Economic Rights in the USA. The entire UCONN community is invited to attend the conference and to learn about the state-of-the-art research in human rights.

For more information see: Economic Rights Group, Human Rights in the USA conference, Human Rights Institute.

Prof. Minkler publishes book

Lanse Minkler‘s (IDEAS) recent book, Integrity and Agreement: Economics When Principles Also Matter, argues that moral principles— not mere self-interest—drives rational decision making. Starting with the elementary principle “lying is wrong,” Minkler examines the ways in which a sense of morality guides real-life decision making. Whether one feels committed to specific or general moral principles, Minkler explains, integrity demands consistently acting on that commitment. Because truthfulness is the most basic moral principle, integrity means honesty. And honesty extends beyond truth-telling. It requires good faith when entering an agreement and then standing by one’s word. From this premise, Minkler explores the implications of integrity for contracts between buyers and sellers and understandings between employers and employees. He also finds a role for integrity in an individual’s religious vows, an elected official’s accountability to constituents, and a community’s obligation to human rights.

Commenting on the book, Geoffrey Hodgson, Research Professor in Business Studies, University of Hertfordshire, and Editor in Chief of the Journal of Institutional Economics writes: “Facing massive evidence that people do not act generally as self-regarding payoff maximizers, economists have become increasingly interested in issues of cooperation, altruism, identity, and morality. Lanse Minkler’s contribution is particularly important because of his powerful argument that the evidence of cooperation cannot be explained adequately by a more complicated preference function. A disposition for honesty is not simply a matter of preference—it is an issue of personal integrity, identity, and commitment. This has major implications. In particular we have to reconstruct the theory of the firm from first principles. No economist committed to the pursuit of truth should ignore this volume.”

You can find out more about Integrity and Agreement at University of Michigan Press.

That book follows on the heels of Minkler’s co-edited volume, Economic Rights: Conceptual, Measurement, and Policy Issues. This edited volume offers new scholarship on economic rights by leading scholars in the fields of economics, law, and political science. It analyzes the central features of economic rights: their conceptual, measurement, and policy dimensions. In its introduction, the book provides a new conceptualization of economic rights based on a three-pronged definition: the right to a decent standard of living, the right to work, and the right to basic income support for people who cannot work. Subsequent chapters correct existing conceptual mistakes in the literature, provide new measurement techniques with country rankings, and analyze policy implementation at the international, regional, national, and local levels. While it forms a cohesive whole, the book is nevertheless rich in contending perspectives.

You can find out more about Economic Rights at Cambridge University Press.