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ItemEnvironmental policy and orthodox economics: a case study of Victorian solid wastePickin, Joseph ( 2007)In this thesis I use the idea of 'rational ideologies' to investigate the value and role of orthodox economics in solid waste policy in Victoria, and its relationship with a dominant set of policy ideas that I call industrial ecology. I show that many orthodox economists criticise industrial ecology and prescribe alternative policies based principally on market-based instruments (MBIs) and cost-benefit analysis (CBA) with environmental valuation. They largely ignore the economic underpinnings of industrial ecology. I report on four empirical research projects. Firstly, I investigate the influence of unit-based pricing of domestic garbage in Melbourne on garbage quantities. I find its effects trivial except where rates were set at levels higher than orthodox economic theory would suggest is appropriate. Home owners have reduced garbage for non-economic reasons. Secondly, I compare 37 cost-benefit studies of recycling, revealing enormously varied approaches and results that are often apparently infused by analyst ideology or sponsor interests. Rather than the hard rationality it seems to promise, CBA with environmental externality valuation diverts debate into complexities that are the preserve of experts. The ideological foundations of some orthodox economic interpretations of environmental issues are shown to be weakly supported by theory or logic. Thirdly, I review the history of Victorian solid waste policy since 1970. As an early pollution crisis was overcome, the agenda shifted to waste minimisation. Regulation, corporatist agreements, targets and strategies have helped to level off the quantity of waste to landfill and grow post-consumption recycling into a major industrial operation. Costs have risen substantially but public support remains strong. Industry, local government and environment groups have competed for influence in the policy arena. While waste management has been transformed into a competitive market structure, orthodox economics has played only a small role in the policy history. Where CBAs have not be desultory they have failed to resolve policy disputes. Use of MBIs has been beset by administrative and sunk-cost concerns. Finally, I report on a survey of 46 members of the solid waste policy community on the economics of solid waste. There is a surprisingly high degree of in-principle acceptance of orthodox economics conceptions of the environment, such as CBA, environmental valuation and MBIs. There is more disagreement over resource efficiency,, recycling targets and interpretation of the value of economic tools in practice. Variation in views is linked with professional grouping more than economics education. There is strong support for the economic underpinnings of industrial ecology. I suggest that environmentalists' simultaneous acceptance of orthodox economists' intellectual framework yet rejection of their prescriptions demonstrates the practical weakness of that framework but also represents a latent danger to environmentalism. In concluding, I interpret orthodox economics as a rational ideology that is blind to its ideological content. I argue that this blindness has led to overconfidence, inflexibility and overambition, and that these characteristics have marginalised orthodox economics in Victorian solid waste policy. I argue for analytical plurality and the supremacy of political judgement.
ItemSustainable microfinance and poverty alleviation : understandings of small farmers in rural NepalAcharya, Yogendra Prasad ( 2006)Microfinance, as a tool for rural development, is one of the most important sectors of financial services for the rural poor in the developing countries. However, a high credit default rate is a worldwide problem that is particularly pronounced in the developing countries. Credit providers in developing countries have generally experienced serious financial problems since the late 1970s due to a constant high credit default rate and consequent loss on loans. Microfinance for the poor is one of the major grassroots initiatives in rural development in Nepal. However, the high credit default rate amongst small farmers has seriously questioned the small farmers' sense of ownership and commitment towards the sustainability of microfinance institutions at the local level. Institutional sustainability of a microfinance institution is heavily dependent on the repayment rate of loans, but the actual repayment of loans largely depends on how the small farmers understand and engage with institutional credit. Very little research has been conducted into the views of the supposed beneficiaries of microfinance schemes, that is, the small farmers. This thesis, based on extensive field research amongst the small farmers of the Chitwan district of Nepal, examines and documents their understandings of credit, what sustainable microfinance means to them, why there is a high rate of loan defaults (on average more than 60%), and other related issues. My research revealed that the small farmer-managed microfinance institutions were not able to achieve the required repayment rate level due to the imposition of a local bureaucratic framework dominated by internal social differences and with totally different expectations between lenders and borrowers. The results indicate that the understandings of the terms `credit' and `sustainability' differ substantially between the loaning institutions and small farmers. This thesis argues that the divergence in views, interests, and perspectives between bankers and policymakers on the one hand, and the small farmers on the other, explains why microfinance programs will continue to struggle to fulfil their mission of poverty alleviation and sustainability. The study reveals that low incomes amongst small farmers and their understandings about credit are the key factors responsible for high credit default. In conclusion, the findings in this study demonstrate that unless governments and lending institutions understand how small farmers interpret the terms `credit' and `sustainability' there will be no mutually favourable outcomes. Providing small farmers `credit' without other inputs such as training and education, infrastructure and support services, marketing facilities and an appropriate pricing policy simply burdens them with increasing debt. The findings from this study will help the government and lending institutions in understanding better the views held by small farmers, and will hence ensure more effective delivery of credit to the poor and others in need of financial services in rural Nepal.
ItemAsian migration and changing employment and occupation in MelbourneKhan, Munir Ahmed ( 1997)This thesis examines the employment and occupation of South Asian migrants in Melbourne. To this end, census and cross sectional data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) and Bureau of Immigration and Population Research (0FR) as well as the survey data collected for this study, are used. In this study special attention is paid to South Asian migrants in terms of their demographic and economic characteristics, occupational adjustment, job quality and process of self-employment. The analysis of South Asian migrants is made according to birthplace, gender and policy category under which they enter into Australia. In examining the South Asian migrants, the study reviews the relevant literature and existing theories and models about their economic success and occupational adjustment overseas and in Australia. In this regard the main factors that influence migrants' occupational adjustment and economic success in the host country have been identified at and applied to the study of South Asian migrants in Melbourne. The study also reviews the Victorian economy in this context. The study describes demographic and economic characteristics, general flow and skill composition of South Asian migrants in Australia. According to the BIPR and survey data, most of the migrants from Bangladesh, India and Sri Lanka are professional and came under the skill migration category. The data also show that South Asian migrants are distinctively different from other non-English speaking background migrants or other Asian migrants in respect of education, professional and occupational backgrounds and skills. The study examines transition and occupational adjustment, quality of jobs and experience of unemployment held by South Asian migrants in the local labour market. The data reveal that the majority of the qualified migrants from Bangladesh, India and Sri Lanka have adjusted well in their own profession through a sequence of jobs. A considerable number have regained either the same or higher status jobs compared to their pre-migration position. Although a considerable number of South Asian migrants have adjusted into occupations similar to their pre-migration occupations, the data show that they in fact status lost. The data also provide evidence that a significant number of migrants have shifted from professional and managerial to non-professional blue collar jobs in the process of their occupational adjustment in Melbourne. The findings reveal that the economic success and occupational adjustment of the migrants in the labour market vary according to birthplace and gender. Although the statistical test indicated that there is no significant difference between the present occupation status and policy category of the migrants, the chi square test indicates that there is some difference between birthplace groups in terms of the distribution of migrants' present occupation and industry. The chi-square test confirmed the significant difference between gender in terms of the distribution of migrants' present occupation. The evidence also shows that a significant number have not been able to enter the labour market since their arrival in Australia and were not able to utilise their professional, technical and academic skills.The study also examines the experiences of self-employed South Asian migrants. Again, the evidence suggests that the majority of these migrants are able to utilise their skills and potentials in their business. However, the case studies indicate that the career advancement of some migrants has been blocked due to this self-employment. The study also analyses the influence of structural change, particularly changes in employment and labour force characteristics, upon the participation of Asian migrants in different industries and occupations. The evidence reveals that South Asian migrants have been affected in terms of their participation according to industry and occupation due to the structural changes occurred in the 10 years to 1996. In conclusion, the study of South Asian migrants discussed relevant theories and models in the light of ABS and survey data. The examination of these data provides evidence that the human capital of migrants plays a significant role in their economic success and occupational adjustment particularly in terms of income and /or employment. In this regard they are able to utilise their skills and potentials in the local labour market. However, the theory of migrants has not paid attention to occupational status which this study identifies as an important indicator for economic success and occupational adjustment of South Asian migrants. The theory of migrants mainly focused on the overall labour market outcomes of the migrants in relation to employment, income differences, participation and unemployment rates.
ItemAn impact analysis of enhanced-greenhouse climate change on the Australian alpine snowpackHewitt, Simon Donald ( 1997)This Thesis is concerned with the sensitivity response of the Australian alpine snowpack to the onset of possible enhanced-greenhouse climatic conditions in the 21st Century. The analysis procedure involved the use of both physical and empirical simulation models, and the various caveats associated with each of these components should be assessed when interpreting the results. A statistical downscaling model was constructed, which converted large-scale synoptic data into daily changes in the alpine snowpack. This snow model was calibrated for the Falls Creek site in the Victorian Alps (elevation 1649 m). The model was able to reproduce observed fluctuations in the observed snowpack when it was driven by largescale atmospheric temperature, humidity and airstream inputs. The research methodology used an extensive archive of daily output from the CSIRO 9- level General Circulation Model (GCM). This model incorporated a Mixed Layer Ocean, and operated at an R21 horizontal resolution. A daily-scale validation of a 24- year 1xCO2 control climatology revealed the existence of a number of biases within the simulated atmospheric fields. The most serious of these was a negative bias in tropospheric temperatures of between 2 C and 5 C. These biases were adjusted, and the GCM was used to drive the statistical snow model. The resulting simulation was successfully validated against observed data. The climate change sensitivity evaluation was conducted by applying a 29-year doubled-CO2 data-set from the CSIRO 9-level GCM to the statistical snow model. The resulting simulation showed an extremely high sensitivity response from the model site, with values such as mean snow cover duration and peak seasonal snow depth decreasing by over 90%. This was largely attributed to a particularly strong warming in the driving GCM of around 4.8 C. A range of further sensitivity perturbations were conducted by varying the input temperature fields (in both the GCM and observed atmospheric data-sets) by one degree Celsius increments. The mean snow model response suggested a quasi-exponential decay relationship, with the first degree of warming producing the strongest reduction in snow duration and snowpack depth. For example, mean maximum snow depths decreased by around 40% when the observed atmosphere was increased by 1 C. These changes were caused by a simultaneous decrease in snowfall and a very strong increase in ablation. Some preliminary impact analysis was conducted on various snow-affected sectors. Within the biophysical context, the snowmelt runoff into the Dartmouth Reservoir of northeast Victoria was calculated using a relatively simple terrain interpolation/snowmelt scheme. The seasonal runoff pattern was then perturbed to simulate an environment in which no alpine snowpack existed. The resulting runoff pattern contained an abnormally high mean winter maxima and a depressed spring inflow volume. A socioeconomic analysis was also conducted into the viability of the Australian winter tourism industry under a range of scenario conditions. A statistical regression relationship was delineated between the duration of the snowpack and visitation numbers at various alpine resorts. The analysis suggested that revenue generation and hence commercial feasibility could be threatened by a moderate reduction in the mean size of the Australian snowpack.