Roger Thayer Stone Center For Latin American Studies

Tulane University

CGD Global Prosperity Wonkcast featuring Nora Lustig

Many governments try to reduce poverty and inequality through a mixture of taxes, transfers, and public services. Individual policies, such as taxation or cash transfers, are frequently evaluated on how well they address these goals. But the overall impact of a country’s fiscal policy package on poverty and inequality has rarely been subject to systematic analysis – until now.

Nora Lustig, a non-resident fellow at CGD and a professor at Tulane, has set out to close this gap with the Commitment to Equity Assessment or CEQ. I invited Nora to tell us about this new endeavor.

Nora explains that the CEQ is both a virtual toolbox – that is, a common analytical approach – and a global network of researchers who are applying this approach in a series of country case studies. CEQ partner institutions include Tulane University, the Inter-American Dialogue, and now CGD, which is helping to bring the approach and the case study findings to a broad international audience. These materials will be collected on a CEQ landing page that is part of the Center‘€™s ongoing work on inequality.

The assessment initially focused on Latin America, the region Nora knows best. But with encouragement and funding from the World Bank and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the CEQ is growing rapidly to include countries in other regions, among them South Africa, Tanzania, Ghana, Tunisia, Armenia, Jordan, Sri Lanka, and Indonesia.

What exactly can we learn from such assessments? Nora offers Brazil as an example. Brazil is reputed to be well-run and pro-poor in its policies, especially for direct taxes and cash transfer programs such as Bolsa Familia. However, throwing consumption taxes into the mix considerably darkens the picture of equity. Because Brazil lays heavy taxes on the goods that the poor purchase frequently, such as rice and beans, the CEQ analysis shows that overall taxation policies actually worsen poverty. (Interestingly, they do not worsen inequality, listen to the Wonkcast or read this new CEQ/CGD paper to find out why!)

I also ask Nora whether reducing the tax burden on the poor and near poor, as the CEQ analysis suggests should be done, may have reduced incentives for these people to hold their governments accountable, thereby undermining the quality of governance. Listen to the Wonkcast for Nora‘€™s intriguing reply, and examples of countries where the CEQ is already beginning to shape the policy dialogue.

My thanks to Kristina Wilson for recording and editing the Wonkcast, as well as providing a first draft of this blog post.

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2019 CLASP Américas Award Ceremony & Workshop

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Friday, September 27, 2019
11am-12pm
Author reading with Francie Latour
Location: Hispanic Reading Room

1-1:45pm
Workshop with Duncan Tonatiuh — Maya Codices
Location: Library of Congress, LJ-119
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5-7:30pm
Américas Award Ceremony
Livestream with classrooms across the U.S.
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Click here to register for in-person attendance at the Library of Congress in Washington, DC.

Bate papo!: Portuguese Conversation Hour

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A weekly hour of Portuguese conversation and tasty treats hosted by Prof. Megwen Loveless. All levels are welcome!

The theme for this semester will be Passion Fruit. So bring your sweet tooth to try this week’s homemade delicacy: Suco de maracujá.

A talk by Mestre João Grande and Mestre Jelon on capoeira across time and space

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The Spanish and Portuguese Department is hosting this talk with two masters of the art of capoeria. Mestre Joao Grande is one of the last remaining Mestres from the Velha Guarda. He moved to New York in 1990 and, at 86 years old, he continues to hold capoeira classes at his academy in Harlem. He is a student of Mestre Pastinha, the father of capoeira Angola. Mestre Jelon is also from Bahia, and he was the first capoeirista to open up a school in the US back in the 70’s. He was also the choreographer and director of Viva Bahia, a dance group that toured the world showcasing folkloric dances of Northeastern Brazil.

Artful Teaching and Learning: Integrating the Arts into the Curriculum

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The full-day workshop, facilitated by Patricia Sobral, Senior Lecturer of Portuguese and Brazilian Studies at Brown University, will lead participants through a series of activities combining the performing, visual, and literary arts. Particular attention will be paid to the performing arts as a means of teaching languages. Participants will be given materials and models that can be applied to a number of fields within the college curriculum for students of all levels and ages. Free and open to the public. For more information, contact Christopher Dunn.

Latin American Writers Series: Luis Negron

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Ecuadorian writer and Tulane Visiting Scholar Gabriela Aleman interviews Puerto Rican writer Luis Negron about his life, interests, and influences. Their discussion will be followed by an open Q&A and an informal reception. Note: This event will be held in Spanish.

About the Latin American Writers Series

This series brings together Latin America’s most representative creative voices and the editorial entrepreneurs that publish them. By way of interviews conducted by renowned Ecuadorian writer Gabriela Alemán and presentations of various editorial missions, the guests will shed light on a literary world shaped by the contemporary issues of the continent. Moving forward, their conversations will comprise the centerpiece of a digital archive that introduces their ideas to a global audience.

Este serie reúne a los autores más representativos de la escritura continental y los editores que los publican. A través de entrevistas con la reconocida escritora ecuatoriana Gabriela Alemán y presentaciones de proyectos editoriales, los invitados explorarán los vínculos entre el mundo literario y la realidad continental. Sus conversaciones se convertirán después en el eje de un archivo digital que busca llevar estas ideas a un público global.

About the author

Luis Negron was born in Puerto Rico and is a writer, film critic, and bookseller. The English translation of his short-story collection Mundo Cruel, a work originally published in Spanish in 2010, won the 2014 Lambda Literary Award. Negron has also written a brief collection of chronicles, Los tres golpes (2016), and served as the editor of Los otros cuerpos: Antología de temática gay, lésbica, y queer desde Puerto Rico y su diáspora (2007). His film reviews have appeared in periodicals like Boston’s La semana (Boston) and Puerto Rico’s Claridad and El poeta.

Bate papo!: Portuguese Conversation Hour

View Full Event Description

A weekly hour of Portuguese conversation and tasty treats hosted by Prof. Megwen Loveless. All levels are welcome!

The theme for this semester will be Passion Fruit. So bring your sweet tooth to try this week’s homemade delicacy: Bolo de maracujá.