Frank Fischer’s Democracy and Expertise: Reorienting Policy Inquiry argues that the public in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries has increasingly gown critical and distrustful of the professions and their practices.
Development economics and policy are due for a redesign. A more realistic understanding of how human beings think and behave can make development policies more effective, and can help development professionals become more aware of their own biases.
A great deal of development policy aims to supply the resources and information people require in their voyage through life. While such an approach is often appropriate, it is also incomplete. People are not perfect calculators of costs and benefits. They rely on heuristics and mental shortcuts. They are influenced by social norms and culture. Poverty is not simply a state of material deprivation, but also a “tax” on cognitive resources that affects the quality of decision making. Fortunately, policies can often be made more effective by simple changes in design, framing and delivery. Recent research from psychology and sociology together with new experimental methods in economics shows how. The 2015 World Development Report interprets this research to formulate many simple lessons for policy making and implementation.
A study, to appear in the Fall 2014 issue of the academic journal Perspectives on Politics, finds that the U.S. is no democracy, but instead an oligarchy, meaning profoundly corrupt, so that the answer to the study’s opening question, "Who governs?
What is behavioural economics, and what does it have to do with development?
In the latest Development Drums podcast, I discuss this with Varun Gauri, who was co-editor of the recent World Development Report, Mind Society and Behaviour, one of the most accessible and widely-read World Development Reports of recent years.
According to Dr Gauri, economists recognise that many resources are scarce (labour, capital, land etc) but fail to acknowledge that cognition is also scarce. And because of this, people routinely make decisions which are bad for them.
Dr Gauri argues that these problems affect people living in poverty at least as much as everyone else, and probably more. The poor do not have access to systems which simplify decision making (e.g. automatic payroll deductions) and the effects of bad decisions can be disproportionate.
In the podcast we discuss the implications for development cooperation. Dr Gauri argues that there are implications for improved service delivery, for international negotiations, and perhaps for a range of other policies. He also points out that these biases affect the staff of development agencies as much as they do everyone else. He rejects my suggestion that the issues raised by behavioural economics are less important to development than the issues addressed by conventional economics.
I come to bury centrism, not to praise it. Discussions of the economy during the 2016 campaign will look very different from those of the past two elections, because centrism as an ideological force has collapsed. An optical illusion has shielded centrism from critique.
Abstract: Since Marx and Weber, social scientists have attempted to understand the impact or lack thereof of religion on two core domains of political life: whether religion influences attitudes about wealth accumulation, inequality and redistribution; and whether religion dampens or inspires political participation. However, the effect of religious ideas on these domains is difficult to identify, at the very least because citizens often select into religious associations whose messages they find appealing. We shed light on this issue through an experiment in Nairobi, Kenya. Focusing on the effects of two important contemporary Christian messages, we find evidence that exposure to religious messages can reduce egalitarianism in complex distribution decisions, compared to exposure to secular messages. We also find that exposure to self-affirmation messages—both religious and secular—can be politically empowering and motivate activism. We discuss implications of these findings for political mobilization and policy preferences in Sub-Saharan Africa, as well as for the study of religion and politics more generally.
Spontaneous Order & Complexity does not arise in defiance of The Second Law of Thermodynamics but with the help of it!... Complexity is Coarse Entropy!...
Complexity arises from the ubiquitous “Interplay of Symmetry-Breaking and Entropy” in driven-damped systems — Emergent Complexity is a form of “Coarse Damping”!
Damping is a term used in engineering to describe the elimination unwanted vibrations and fluctuations in a system. Damping usually involves the external dissipation of excessive energy.
Complexity however is not about the external dissipation energy; on the contrary it is about the internal distribution of energy. Complexity is about the internal dissymmetry/imbalance of parts, within a system, which pulls the system as a whole spontaneously to a “complex structural equilibrium”. Complexity is a “Coarse” form of damping to“thermal equilibrium”. Complexity is Coarse Uniformity! Complexity is Coarse Symmetry!
In March of 2011, The New York Times announced that it would start charging readers for digital content. The announcement came from the publisher of the Times, Arthur Sulzberger, Jr., who wrote that the shift away from offering...
Richard Reeves and Emily Cuddy look at data on how social isolation can contribute to one's ability to exit poverty, explaining why the size and strength of social networks and communities can influence the opportunities one is exposed to.
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