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Law / 06.08.2019

By Anjum Altaf I have lived in the US for long periods but earlier this year was the first time in over two decades that I stayed in the UK. I noticed immediately that the quality of edible products was much better in the latter although my purchases were from a corner store as compared to the US where I used to shop at a high-end organic market. This intrigued me no end since both are advanced countries with consumers conscious of what they eat. What might account for this noticeable difference in quality at least as far as taste was concerned? I decided on some amateur sleuthing and the findings revealed much of interest. While these may not account for the actual explanation, the conclusions are of enough general interest to merit discussion in Pakistan. The key to the puzzle may lie in the overarching principles governing...

Law / 14.12.2018

By Anjum Altaf Education is a big-ticket item. Clarity is needed about its relationship to economic growth and development before betting the house on it. Otherwise a lot of resources would end up being misallocated. It is in this context that I respond to Mr. Miftah Ismail’s diagnosis and prescription presented in his opinion in this newspaper (‘Educating Pakistan,’ December 5, 2018). Mr. Ismail begins by asking why any country is richer than another and answers with the assertion that “education is probably the most important factor in determining the wealth of nations.” From this follows the prescription that the path to richness is education. I offer some cross-country evidence using literacy rates as a proxy for education and GDP per capita as a proxy for wealth -- for each country the data that follows in parentheses shows percent of adult population that is literate and GDP per...

Law / 29.05.2009

By Anjum Altaf Picking up on the speculation about the causes of poverty of Indian Muslims, I did some more reading on the subject. The bottom line is that the variations in the laws of inheritance matter in very interesting ways. Let me outline some of basic contours here and hope we can discuss the details in the comments. Where the principal form of property was land, a law favoring equal division amongst all heirs would lead to fragmented holdings while a law decreeing transfer to one heir only would avoid fragmentation.