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Sunday, February 5, 2012

narbonita, ma.emilia victoria a.- book review in POVERTY, URBANIZATION, AND DEVELOPMENT POLICY by: Arsenio Balisacan

Poverty and (under)development are the subjects of this book. While the focus is on urban poverty, the principal themes running throughout the book apply as well to rural poverty. The book traces the roots of the Philippine-poverty problem to industrialization and spatial policies that unduly encouraged concentration of infrastructure and social services in major urban centers; to trade and macroeconomic policies that severely penalized agriculture, labor-intensive exports, and small- to medium-scale manufacturing establishments; to public spending policies that accorded little attention to human capital formation for the poor; and to the lack of strong complementarity of state and market. Taking into account economic constraints and political economy considerations, the book discusses ways on how to enhance pro-poor, pro-market, and pro-growth policies, particularly those aimed at correcting disincentives against rapid employment expansion, balanced urban-rural growth, and human capital formation.
  In Asia, urbanization is proceeding at an unprecedented rate and shifting the burden of poverty from  rural to urban areas. The Philippines is not an exception to this phenomenon, although its level of urbanization is higher than in most other Asian countries at a similar stage of development. Urban poverty increasingly accounted for a substantial proportion of its total poor population, rising from 28 percent in 1961 to 41 percent in 1991. Moreover, the absolute number of poor urban families rose from 0.68 million to 2.09 million during the same period.
 Urbanization and urban poverty make  up a multi-faceted problem that includes unemployment and underemployment, inadequacy of infrastructure, shortage of housing and basic services, and environmental degradation. In turn, these aspects invoke further questions concerning the macroeconomic and political environment for overall economic growth,the character of spatial and industrialization policies , taxation and provision of infrastructure,access to human capital development (particularly education, health services, and family planning services), land tenure and housing, and environmental management.
             Political support for the institution of pro- poor, pro- market, and pro- growth reform has to be enhanced. Beneficiaries of the status quo, who are typically organized, can mount strong opposition to policy reforms. On the other hand, gainers and policy reforms, who are usually unorganized, spatially dispersed, lowly educated and often uninformed about the benefits of policies, are politically weak even though they may be a numerically- large group. The influence of pro- reform advocates in government is seldom enough to bring about reforms. The academic community and social action groups play a critical role in this struggle. Policy analysis can help shape perceptions among the actors in the political arena about the costs and benefits of government action or in action. Organizing the diverse, export- oriented industries into powerful lobby group which can support the position of pro- reform advocates in government, is also helpful in enhancing the success of reforms, especially in countering the protectionist pressure exerted by import- substituting industrialists. The process requires that the pro- reform advocates explain to the public why the reforms are needed and how they are to work.

            Balanced rural- urban growth and economic development require the strong complementarity of state and market. The state not only institute and enforces the long- term rules of the game that empower and constrain economic actors but also provides complementarity public goods for the efficient operation of market. In recent years, the state missed performing its major role- the financing and public sector coordination of investment in social and physical infrastructure, the promotion of rule ensuring incentive compatibility in government and in the private sector, and the pursuit of an egalitarian distribution of assets in the private sector- in laying the foundation for long- term economic growth and development.

  This book of Arsenio M. Balisacan showcase the grass root problem in urban poverty in the Philippines. Widespread poverty, unemployment and underemployment have been persistent characteristics of post war Philippine development.  Base on his studies, the three are interrelated and are influenced by economic , political , and socio-cultural factors including the country's development and industrialization policies as well as the global environment for trade and finance .That widespread poverty reflects a failure of development policy in the Philippines. 
    As Arsenio M. Balisacan, enumerate and noted the increasing Urban Poverty in the Philippines he pointed out and  comprehensively cite the implications to this poverty which I clearly understand why our country suffering from this constant problem.
 Therefore, i highly recommend this book to  anyone who have an interest in this field of study.Because in my experience in reading this book, it  make me realize and enlighten me that rapid urbanization in the Philippines and  the development policies made by our government resulted to  urban poverty because most of the policy  does not fit or applicable in our case and current situation. It is sad to know that poverty is never out in our fate. Though our  government strive hard to surpass this problem yet, we're trap on this dilemma.


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