Maastricht Economic and social Research and  training centre on Innovation and Technology

Master's Open Day at UNU-MERIT
UNU-MERIT will host a Master’s Open Day on Saturday 7 October 2017. Our top-ranked MSc in Public Policy and Human Development (MPP) emphasises the connection between public policy and decision-making processes, as well as the principles of good governance.

Students who successfully complete our Master’s programme receive a double degree issued by the United Nations University and Maastricht University. Several information sessions will be offered throughout the day and visitors will have the opportunity to talk with staff and students.

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All headlines
  • Light stored as sound for the first time
  • New method for testing blood with sound waves developed
  • Could we store carbon dioxide as liquid lakes under the sea?
  • Scientists make alcohol out of thin air
  • Handheld scanner divines how nutritious your food really is
  • 3D-printed alloys could lead to lighter planes that fly further
  • Initiative to build African science journalism capacity
  • Why poor countries often stay poor – and how they can get rich
    It’s an old story. A rich country’s aid agency pours millions into a new industry in a poor country, in the hope of boosting its economy, but it never really works. The factory keeps getting shut down by blackouts or lack of spare parts. Raw materials don’t arrive; workers get sick; engineers emigrate. Now a new kind of mathematical model describing how such systems behave might help beat this 'poverty trap'.

    Applying the physics of networks and complexity to economic systems has shown that the key process in 'developing' from impoverished to industrialised is adopting more complex production, for example going from subsistence farming, to textiles, to electronics. But more complexity means managing more inputs, from raw materials to labour. The trouble is, in poor countries, supply chains can be unreliable.

    To work out how this affects the development of a country’s economy, researchers from Columbia University in New York have created an agent-based model (ABM): a set of mathematical equations that describe the behaviours and interactions of each component of the economy. Then they let it run to see what happened.

    In the model, companies and producers adapted to supply disruptions by cutting their complexity, keeping the economy trapped in low-value production – and poverty. But buffers to such disruptions – for instance, large inventories of raw materials – could allow the economy to evolve past this point.

    The model led the team to evidence, buried in economic data, that shoring up supply chains with inventories was exactly what successful developing countries did until they became prosperous. The study suggests it is difficult to rapidly increase the complexity of an economy – although not impossible, given that China has successfully done so.

    New Scientist / Nature Human Behaviour    September 04, 2017