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Vol 38  No 13
April 27, 2006


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Rothermere Fellowship will fund economic development studies at Oxford

By Leslie Vryenhoek

Joe Rowsell

Joe Rowsell, a former Memorial economics student now teaching in the Economics Department, received a major boost this month when he learned he’s the 2006 recipient of the Rothermere Fellowship.

The prestigious fellowship will allow Mr. Rowsell to pursue graduate studies in economics at Oxford University in the UK, where he plans to study economic development and growth, specifically in African countries.

“Essentially I’m interested in the broad economic question of why some countries are so rich when so many other countries ­ those with similar resources, geography, and populations, aren’t. It’s tough to think of a more compelling question,” he said.

During the four years he will study at Oxford (three funded by the Rothermere Fellowship), he intends to explore specifically why developing countries don’t adopt modern technologies and institutions, which are generally agreed to drive economic development.

He cited Botswana as an African country that has experienced substantial economic growth in recent decades; he hopes to extract concrete lessons from such examples that can then be applied to other developing nations ­ and potentially to developing economies like Newfoundland and Labrador’s.

“I believe there are a number of ways that the research I’ll be doing can also be applied to our own economy.”

As a master’s student at Queen’s, Mr. Rowsell undertook a project on the link between natural resources and economic growth, and found those with fewer resources grew faster. “It seems counter-intuitive, but an over-reliance on natural resources leads to a slower growth rate,” he noted.

“Natural resources do not drive growth; proper institutions and policies do.”

Those institutions and policies encompass, among other things, political systems, laws, social programs, tax and competition policies, financial sectors, infrastructure and educational systems.

“Basically, institutions shape the incentives, whether political, social or economic, that are available in a society.”

Mr. Rowsell was sorting through offers from Canadian universities to pursue his doctorate when the news of his Rothermere Fellowship reached him. He said he was thrilled to receive the substantial scholarship. Established by Memorial University’s first chancellor, Lord Rothermere, the trust will provide a yearly stipend plus cover his university and college fees at Oxford, as well as annual airfare to and from Canada. Each year, one award is given to an exceptional scholar who has completed a first degree at Memorial. Mr. Rowsell graduated with his B.Sc. in Economics in 2004, and last year received an MA from Queen’s.

The Corner Brook native has ambitious plans for a future beyond Oxford: he hopes to work for a few years with a multilateral organization such as the World Bank, and then bring the knowledge and experience he’s gathered home to Atlantic Canada. Ultimately, he wants to pursue a political career.

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