nep-hpe New Economics Papers
on History and Philosophy of Economics
Issue of 2009‒06‒10
nine papers chosen by
Erik Thomson
University of Manitoba

  1. Evolutionary Policy By Jeroen C.J.M. van den Bergh; Giorgos Kallis
  2. Is Novelty always a good thing? Towards an Evolutionary Welfare Economics By Christian Schubert
  3. On Some Neglected Implications of the Fisher Effect By Antonio Ribba
  4. A Typology of Research Methods Within the Social Sciences By "Gabriele Beissel Durrant
  5. Ethics and Climate Change Cost-Benefit Analysis: Stern and after By Jonathan Aldred
  6. Att undervisa i Business history By Nordlund, Therese
  7. Swedish monetary standards in historical perspective By Edvinsson, Rodney
  8. What the Industrial Countries Can Do to Support Developing Countries' Development Goals By Krueger, Anne O.
  9. On The Possibility that American College Students Are Not Human Capitalists. By Gregory A. Lilly; Samuel K. Allen

  1. By: Jeroen C.J.M. van den Bergh; Giorgos Kallis
    Abstract: We explore the idea of public policy from the perspective of evolutionary thinking. This involves paying attention to concepts like diversity, population, selection, innovation, coevolution, group selection, path-dependence and lock-in. We critically discuss the notion of evolutionary progress. The relevance of evolutionary dynamics is illustrated for policy and political change, technical change, sustainability transitions and regulation of consumer behaviour. A lack of attention for the development of evolutionary policy criteria and goals is identified and alternative choices are critically evaluated. Finally, evolutionary policy advice is compared with policy advice coming from neoclassical economics, public choice theory and theories of resilience and adaptive management. We argue that evolutionary thinking offers a distinct and useful perspective on public policy design and change.
    Keywords: Adaptive management, coevolution, escaping lock-in, evolutionary politics, evolutionary progress, innovation policy, optimal diversity, resilience, social-technical transition Length 43 pages
    Date: 2009–05
  2. By: Christian Schubert
    Abstract: Schumpeter’s and Hayek’s view of market coordination as being not about efficiency, but about endogenous change and never-ending discovery has been increasingly recognized even by the mainstream of economics. Underlying this view is the notion of creative learning agents who bring about novelty. We argue that apart from the challenges it poses for positive theorizing, novelty (be it technological, institutional or commercial) also has a complex normative dimension that standard welfare economics is unsuited to deal with. We show that welfare economics has to be reconstructed on the basis of evolutionary-naturalistic insights into the way human agents bring about, value and respond to novelty-induced change.
    Keywords: Novelty, Endogenous Change, Preference Formation, Welfare, Justice Length 28 pages
    JEL: D63 O12
    Date: 2009–05
  3. By: Antonio Ribba
    Abstract: Following the lead of Fama [American Economic Review 65 (1975) 269-282] and of other influential papers, such as Mishkin [Journal of Monetary Economics 30 (1992) 195-215], it has become standard to interpret the Fisher effect as the ability of short-term interest rate to predict future inflation. However, in this paper we demonstrate that by restricting to zero the instantaneous response of expected inflation to an interest rate shock, one can identify a disturbance that economic agents, according to the Fisherian framework, should evaluate as transitory. An important implication of this result is that short-term nominal interest rates cannot be interpreted as predictors, at least not long-run predictors, of inflation. We illustrate this result with an empirical application to US postwar data.
    Keywords: Fisher Effect; Identification; Structural Cointegrated VARs
    JEL: E40 C32
    Date: 2009–05
  4. By: "Gabriele Beissel Durrant
    Abstract: This paper discusses and develops a typology of research methods in the social sciences. Such a typology will be relevant for various aspects of the work of the ESRC National Centre for Research Methods (NCRM) as well as other ESRC initiatives and the wider social science research community. It may be useful, for example, for the prioritisation of research methods, for defining the current focus of research, for the identification of needs for further training and research within certain areas and for a classification of research projects and funding schemes. This paper describes other approaches to such a classification, in particular the thesaurus of social research methodology developed by the SRM-Documentation Centre at the University Rotterdam. It is apparent that there is not a unique classification scheme and that various approaches to such a classification are possible. Aims and possible uses of the typology developed here are discussed. Some justification for the chosen structure is presented. Difficulties encountered in the development of the typology are described.[NCRM Working Paper]
    Keywords: research methods; typology; thesaurus; social sciences
    Date: 2009
  5. By: Jonathan Aldred (Department of Land Economy, University of Cambridge)
    Abstract: The Stern Review on the economics of climate change (hereafter ‘Stern’) has received much attention regarding its potential political impact.1 It has also been extensively discussed among academic economists because its conclusions are more radical, in terms of action to mitigate climate change, than previous orthodox economic analyses. This paper aims to contribute to the debate by critically assessing three key features of climate change CBA, with particular reference to Stern: monetary valuation of human life, discounting, and the treatment of risk and uncertainty. This assessment reveals some common themes, which are examined in the final section. They concern the tensions which emerge in climate change CBA between ethical arguments, market-based preferences, and the claims of CBA to scientific objectivity.
    Keywords: Climate change, Stern report, Cost benefit analysis, discounting, uncertainty
    Date: 2009
  6. By: Nordlund, Therese (Dept. of Economic History, Stockholm University)
    Abstract: This paper discusses Business history teaching, focusing on its possibilities and limitations in today’s higher education. In Sweden, Business history teaching is still dominated by male teachers and male students. This paper discusses a “gender-conscious pedagogy” in terms of dealing with gender, class and ethnicity in the classroom. This paper suggests the importance of achieving a learning enviroment that promotes equal treatment regardless of gender. In order to achieve this goal, the teacher must motivate and encourage university students. The teacher has to discover the power and hierarchies inside the university classroom. The historical perspective is important in order to learn analyse, relate and understand the present society and business life in the past, and to give the students the tools to understand and criticise organizations. This is also relevant for other subjects, for example, economics.
    Keywords: Business history; pedagogy; higher teaching; gender issues; learning environment; education
    JEL: A22 I23
    Date: 2009–05–21
  7. By: Edvinsson, Rodney (Dept. of Economic History, Stockholm University)
    Abstract: This paper classifies the monetary standards in Sweden from the Middle Ages to the present, and gives an overview of the various currencies that were in use. During most of Sweden’s history, a commodity standard was in place, while the fiat standard is a rather late innovation. The classification into monetary standards is also related to the issue of debasement under the commodity standard and the mechanisms behind the rise of multiple currencies.
    Keywords: monetary history; monetary standard; Sweden
    JEL: E42 N13 N14 N23 N24
    Date: 2009–05–24
  8. By: Krueger, Anne O.
    Keywords: International Development, International Relations/Trade,
    Date: 2009–02
  9. By: Gregory A. Lilly (Department of Economics, Elon University); Samuel K. Allen (Department of Economics, Virginia Military Institute)
    Abstract: We assess the likelihood that earnings premiums influence college students' behavior as human capital theory suggests. We highlight several key observable patterns of earnings by age, sex, and for numerous college majors in recent decades, and propose a model of heterogeneous human capital to explain the data. Next, we formulate and test the hypothesis that greater expected average annual earnings by college major will induce greater proportions of college students to select higher-paying majors. The evidence implies that - at least for the observed range of earnings premiums - monetary incentives are insufficient to fully explain behavior.
    JEL: I21 J24
    Date: 2009–06

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