The most successful multialternative theories of decision making assume that people consider individual aspects of a choice and proceed via a process of elimination. Amos Tversky was one of the pioneers of this field, but modern decision theorists – most notably Neil Stewart – have moved things forward. At the current stage the theories are able to explain a number of strictly ‘irrational’ but reasonable quirks of human decision making, including various heuristics and biases. Not only this, but eye movements of participants strongly imply that the decision-making process depicted in the theories is an accurate one.
In this short video behavioural economist, Dan Aerily talks about how our cognitive illusions will trick us into believing something that is otherwise deemed irrational by the homo economicus. It raises and probes into some very interesting questions that defy the neoclassical rational behaviour.
As seen with the United Nations significant promotion of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the past few years, the issue of global development is of growing concern to many international organizations. As humanity continues to become more interconnected through globalization, the inequalities and injustices experienced by inhabitants of impacted countries becomes increasingly clear. While this issue can be observed in the papers of different types (e.g., different schools of thought) of economists throughout the world, the work of behavioral and complexity economists offer a unique, collaborative perspective on how to frame decisions for individuals in a way that can positively reverberate throughout society and throughout time.
How do people make decisions? There is a class of models in psychology which seek to answer this question but have received scant attention in economics despite some clear empirical successes. In a previous post I discussed one of these, Decision by Sampling, and this post will look at another: the so-called Fast and Frugal heuristics pioneered by the German psychologist Gerd Gigerenzer. Here the individual seeks out sufficient information to make a reasonable decision. They are ‘fast’ because they do not require massive computational effort to make a decision so can be done in seconds, and they are ‘frugal’ because they use as little information as possible to make the decision effectively.
Economists like to base their theories on individual decision making. Individuals, the idea goes, have their own interests and preferences, and if we don’t include these in our theory we can’t be sure how people will react to changes in their economic circumstances and policy. While there may be social influences, in an important sense the buck stops with individuals. Understanding how individuals process information to come to decisions about their health, wealth and happiness is crucial. You can count me as someone who thinks that on the whole, this is quite a sensible view.
What influence do changes in tax policy or state decisions on expenditure have on economic growth? For decades, this question has been controversially debated.
The authors show how consumers, business, the Federal Reserve, and government take into account what's going on around them to make critical decisions like buying new products, building new factories, changing interest rates, or setting budget goals. The book provides a clear roadmap to understanding the whole story behind the global economy.
Firms are the primary places where economic activity takes place in modern capitalist economies: they are where most stuff is produced; where many of us spend 40 hours a week; and where big decisions are made about how to allocate resources. Establishing how they work is hugely important because it helps us to understand patterns of production and consumption, including how firms will react to changes in economic conditions and policy. And a well-established literature – led by post-Keynesians and institutionalists – holds that the best way to determine how firms work is to…wait for it...ask firms how they work. This a clearly sensible proposition that is contested in economics for some reason, but we’ll ignore the controversy here and just explore the theory that springs from this approach.
One method of economic modelling that has become increasingly popular in academia, government and the private sector is Agent Based Models, or ABM. These simulate the actions and interactions of thousands or even millions of people to try to understand the economy – for this reason ABM was once described to me as being “like Sim City without the graphics”. One advantage of ABM is that it is flexible, since you can choose how many agents there are (an agent just means some kind of 'economic decision maker' like a firm, consumer, worker or government); how they behave (do they use complicated or simple rules to make decisions?); as well as the environment they act in, then just run the simulation and see what happens as they interact over time.
Esther Duflo discusses the fact that in social policy one cannot check the big questions, i.e. whether development assistance as an aggregate is helpful, because there is no counterfactual. She then suggests to focus on smaller questions such as what prevents or incentiveses people from immunizing their kids or whether mosquito bednets should be distributed for free. These questions can be answered by using randomized control trials as in the medical sciences. Thus, she argues, by bringing the experimental method to social policy analysis better decisions as to where allocate funds can be made.
Departing from an analysis of women's employment and changing gender regimes in the pre crisis period, Jill Rubery illustrates how the crisis affects men's and women's employment differently. Afterwards, she discusses the crisis' impact on gender relations. Based on empirical findings, she shows how men were more affected by the recession and women more by austerity and presents possible explanations. Those are furthermore linked to women's employment decisions and prevalent gender regimes. In particular, Rubery discusses cut backs in public spendings on care, flexibilization and the role of conservative gender ideologies.
Why current definitions of family income are misleading, and why this matters for measures of inequality
What is “equitable growth” and how do we measure it? A better understanding of equitable growth—and how to measure it—can improve our understanding, inform decisions and lead to better outcomes for all.
The authors discuss how identity affects economic outcomes by bringing together psychological and sociological perspectives and economics. For economic outcomes of a single individual, it might be interesting which kind of social groups this individual belongs to. This may influence individual daily decisions and hence economic outcomes. It can, however, not only affect individual economic outcomes but also economic outcomes of organizations, institutions and other groups. This paper describes these influences with respect to gender in the workplace, to the economics of poverty and social exclusion, and to the household division of labour.
Modern authors have identified a variety of striking economic patterns, most importantly those involving the distribution of incomes and profit rates. In recent times, the econophysics literature has demonstrated that bottom incomes follow an exponential distribution, top incomes follow a Pareto, profit rates display a tent-shaped distribution. This paper is concerned with the theory underlying various explanations of these phenomena. Traditional econophysics relies on energy-conserving “particle collision” models in which simulation is often used to derive a stationary distribution. Those in the Jaynesian tradition rely on entropy maximization, subject to certain constraints, to infer the final distribution. This paper argues that economic phenomena should be derived as results of explicit economic processes. For instance, the entry and exit process motivated by supply decisions of firms underlies the drift-diffusion form of wage, interest and profit rates arbitrage. These processes give rise to stationary distributions that turn out to be also entropy maximizing. In arbitrage approach, entropy maximization is a result. In the Jaynesian approaches, entropy maximization is the means.
Is our system capable of energy transition and climate protection? How plural is economic policy in practice and who makes the big decisions? What kind of change do we want?
Sporting events can be seen as controlled, real-world, miniature laboratory environments, approaching the idea of “holding other things equal” when exploring the implications of decisions, incentives, and constraints in a competitive setting (Goff and Tollison 1990, Torgler 2009). Thus, a growing number of studies have used sports data to study decision-making questions that have guided behavioral economics literature.
After completing the module, participants should have gained a basic understanding of the economic school of thought referred to as "Modern Monetary Theory" and should be able to analyze the monetary processes at play in the economy and evaluate fiscal and monetary policy decisions from an MMT-perspective.
Since the Middle Ages, literature has portrayed the economic world in poetry, drama, stories and novels. The complexity of human realities highlights crucial aspects of the economy. The nexus linking characters to their economic environment is central in a new genre, the "economic novel", that puts forth economic choices and events to narrate social behavior, individual desires, and even non-economic decisions.
Environmental cost-benefit analysis was developed by economists in the belief that monetary valuation of the environmental repercussions of economic activity is essential if the "environment " stands any chance of being included in government and business decisions.
Behavioural economics deals with observing behaviour and economic decision making behaviour.
Dr Murieann Quigley (Senior Lecturer in Biomedical Ethics and Law, University of Bristol) discusses the ethics of nudging and whether it matters that third parties construct the context in which you make your decisions.
By conducting a discourse analysis (SKAD) in the field of academic economics textbooks, this paper aims at reconstructing frames and identity options offered to undergraduate students relating to the questions ‘Why study economics?’ and ‘Who do I become by studying economics?’. The analysis showed three major frames and respective identity offerings, all of which are contextualized theoretically, with prominent reference to the Foucauldian reflection of the science of Political Economy. Surprisingly, none of them encourages the student to think critically, as could have been expected in a pedagogical context. Taken together, economics textbooks appear as a “total structure of actions brought to bear upon possible action” (Foucault), therefore, as a genuine example of Foucauldian power structures.
Feminist economics focuses on the interdependencies of gender relations and the economy. Care work and the partly non-market mediated reproduction sphere are particularly emphasised by feminist economics.
This article explores if power dynamics in the household can be changed, and if so, how. In this context the focus is laid on government childcare policy and its various channels of possible influence.
In this essay the authors argue for a wider concept of care work that includes community building, civic engagement and environmental activism. On the basis of the case of Cargonomia, a grassroot initiative in Budapest, they show that such a wider concept of care work could allow for different narratives that promote sustainable lifestyles with a milder environmental and social impact on the planet and its communities.
Neoclassical economics focuses on the allocation of scarce resources. Economic analysis is mainly concerned with determining the efficient allocation of resources in order to increase welfare.
Post-Keynesians focus on the analysis of capitalist economies, perceived as highly productive, but unstable and conflictive systems. Economic activity is determined by effective demand, which is typically insufficient to generate full employment and full utilisation of capacity.
Politics as supermarket? Or how current policy design changes the relationship between the state and its citizens
What are the implications of the politics of "behavioural change"? Alexander Feldmann took a closer look for you on nudging and framing and if this is a legitimate instrument being used by the state to make us behave better in terms of our carbon footprint.
The article pursues the two related questions of how economists pretend to know and why they want to know at all. It is argued that both the economic form of knowledge and the motivation of knowing have undergone a fundamental change during the course of the 20th century. The knowledge of important contemporary economic textbooks has little in common with an objective, decidedly scientifically motivated knowledge. Rather, their contents and forms follow a productive end, aiming at the subjectivity of their readers.
This lecture course, which will be taught in English, will deal with gender issues in developing countries. After providing an overview of the gender differences in various aspects of welfare and economic life, the course will then tackle a number of specific issues.
Exploring Economics, an open-source e-learning platform, giving you the opportunity to discover & study a variety of economic theories, topics, and methods.
Stratification economics is defined as a systemic and empirically grounded approach to addressing intergroup inequality. Stratification economics integrates economics, sociology and social psychology to distinctively analyze inequality across groups that are socially differentiated, be it by race, ethnicity, gender, caste, sexuality, religion or any other social differentiation.