nep-hpe New Economics Papers
on History and Philosophy of Economics
Issue of 2023‒08‒28
six papers chosen by
Erik Thomson, University of Manitoba

  1. Tracing Economic Policies to Ancient Indian Economic Ethics By Satish Y. Deodhar
  2. The Homer economicus narrative: from cognitive psychology to individual public policies By Guilhem Lecouteux
  3. Stabilization Policy: A Turbulent Journey Through Time By Oliver Landmann
  4. The Perils of Antitrust Econometrics: Unrealistic Engel Curves, Inadequate Data, and Aggregation Bias By Gabriel A. Lozada
  5. Public Policy: A science and/or a Field? By Rouhani, Omid
  6. Dark versus Light Personality Types and Moral Choice By Dickinson, David L.

  1. By: Satish Y. Deodhar
    Abstract: Ancient Indian Treatises, History of Economic Thought, Vedas, Upanishads, Mahabharata, Ramayana, Arthashastra, Shukranitisara, Narada, Bhishma, Kautilya, Shukracharya, Science of Political Economy, Sanskrit.
    Abstract: Science without history is like a man without memory. The colossal history of India stores many ideas on economic ethics and public policy which have been forgotten in the course of time. This paper is an attempt to bring to the fore, contributions from ancient Indian treatises. In this context, the paper briefly summarizes alternative economic ideas such as communism, capitalism, and the holistic approach of ancient Indian writings. I discuss the idea of the welfare brick for an individual consisting of three dimensions – Purusharthas, Ashramas, and Varnas. Given the contours of the welfare brick, next I discuss the concept of state and its economic policies, followed by coverage of markets, prices, interest rates, and credit. Thereafter, I delve into treatment of land, property rights, and guilds and unions, with special attention to labour relations covered in Arthashastra and Shukranitisara. The penultimate section summarises the economic advice author of Shukrantisara offers to the head of a household. Finally, in concluding comments, I bring out the relevance of ancient Indian writings for modern times –both for pedagogy and economic policies.
    Date: 2023–08–10
  2. By: Guilhem Lecouteux (GREDEG - Groupe de Recherche en Droit, Economie et Gestion - UNS - Université Nice Sophia Antipolis (1965 - 2019) - COMUE UCA - COMUE Université Côte d'Azur (2015-2019) - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique - UCA - Université Côte d'Azur, COMUE UCA - COMUE Université Côte d'Azur (2015-2019))
    Abstract: A common narrative among some behavioural economists and policy makers is that experimental psychology highlights that individuals are more like Homer Simpson than the Mr Spock imagined by neoclassical economics, and that this justifies policies aiming to ‘correct' individual behaviours. This narrative is central to nudging policies and suggests that a better understanding of individual cognition will lead to better policy prescriptions. I argue that this Homer economicus narrative is methodologically flawed, and that its emphasis on cognition advances a distorted view of public policies consisting in fixing malfunctioning individuals, while ignoring the characteristics of the socio-economic environment that influence individuals' behaviours.
    Keywords: homo economicus, rational choice, replication crisis, behaviourally informed policy, Homer Simpson and Mr Spock
    Date: 2023
  3. By: Oliver Landmann (Department of International Economic Policy, University of Freiburg)
    Abstract: The theory and practice of stabilization policy has taken many turns as it evolved over the past century, oscillating between high hopes and deep skepticism regarding the capacity – and desirability - of governments taking responsibility for macroeconomic stability. This paper reviews the turbulent history of stabilization policy, highlighting the close interaction between events, policies, and ideas. The focus is on the single most debated issue in this history: the resilience of a market economy in the face of macroeconomic shocks. Views on this question have been shaped by experience, theory and ideology to varying degrees.
    Keywords: Stabilization Policy, Macroeconomics, Fiscal Policy, Monetary Policy, History of Economic Thought
    JEL: B10 B20 E00 E32 E50 E62
    Date: 2022–09
  4. By: Gabriel A. Lozada (University of Utah)
    Abstract: Some economists argue antitrust policy should be based on empirical methods used by the Industrial Organization subdiscipline of economics, but non-economists must understand that those methods contain certain highly restrictive assumptions. Those assumptions involve econometric "identification, " and treating aggregate demand as if it were generated by a representative consumer (Muellbauer's "generalized linear" preferences). We derive new results illustrating how restrictive the representative consumer assumption is; we explain aggregation bias in Almost Ideal Demand System models; and we show that data limitations make it even harder to justify economists' restricting aggregate demands as one would the demand of a single individual.
    Keywords: Antitrust econometrics; Almost Ideal Demand System (AIDS); New Brandeis School
    JEL: D12 C43 L4 C54
    Date: 2023–03–29
  5. By: Rouhani, Omid
    Abstract: “The Public Policy Theory Primer” book, by Ken Smith and Chris Larimer, investigates public policy theories and examines a key question: Does this scientific field really exists? The book's answer is yes, but in a plural format. The book’s conclusion is that public policy is more art/craft rather than science, at least not yet. Overall, the book is informative, especially for a person with limited knowledge regarding fundamental public policy theories.
    Keywords: Public Policy; Political Science; Policy Analysis; Policy Process
    JEL: H0 H1 H3 H30 H75
    Date: 2023–07–27
  6. By: Dickinson, David L. (Appalachian State University)
    Abstract: Dark personality traits have been linked to behaviors commonly understood as unethical, such as fraud, bribe-taking, and marital infidelity. Presumably, more "light" personality traits may be associated with lesser tendencies to be unethical, but many individuals also possess both light and dark trait characteristics. This paper reports results from a preregistered study of over 2400 participants who completed validated short-form personality instruments to assess dark and light personality trait measures—the dark tetrad and a light "triad" of 3 personality dimensions were measured. Furthermore, participants completed 3 tasks of interest that contribute to an understanding or one's ethics: a task assessing prosociality, a task that presents a monetary temptation to be dishonest, and a hypothetical moral dilemma task. The results overall support the hypotheses that dark personality traits predict lower levels of prosociality, higher likelihood of dishonesty, and an increased willingness to make immoral choices overall. Potential mechanisms and implications are examined.
    Keywords: ethics, dark personality, moral choice, experiments
    JEL: C91 D91 D63
    Date: 2023–07

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