Economic Institute at UMass Amherst Receives Two Ford Foundation Grants

AMHERST, Mass. - Researchers at the Political Economy Research Institute (PERI) at the University of Massachusetts have received two grants totaling $654,000 from the Ford Foundation. The grants will fund research on how to create stable, egalitarian growth in the global economy, and on how to combine environmental protection and poverty reduction in the U.S.

The institute was founded in 1998 and is affiliated with the UMass department of economics. These are the first major grants to be received by PERI, according to co-directors Gerald Epstein, and Robert Pollin. Epstein chairs the department of economics, and Pollin is a professor of economics.

A two-year $400,000 grant was awarded to Epstein, Pollin and several associates for a project, "Promoting Stable and Egalitarian Growth in the Age of Global Integration." The research will look at how to create improved domestic and international institutions, which, in an increasingly integrated global economy, can help mobilize, stabilize, and channel capital to productive investment, Epstein says. The goal is to raise long-term productivity growth and spread the associated benefits widely to individuals and to communities around the world, he says.

"The process of globalization is leading to more instability and greater inequalities in many economies," Epstein says. "We’re trying to come up with alternative proposals to reverse these trends." The project will look specifically at designing more egalitarian and democratic financial institutions nationally and globally, and developing new rules and institutions for regulating the international flows of capital and investment, he says.

The institute has received a second Ford Foundation grant of $254,100 for a 14-month project titled, "Natural Assets: Democratizing Environmental Ownership," to be directed by economics professor James K. Boyce. The project will commission a set of papers for a conference and a subsequent book. The conference will explore the potential impact of natural-asset building on poverty, environmental protection, and environmental justice.