nep-pke New Economics Papers
on Post Keynesian Economics
Issue of 2021‒04‒26
nine papers chosen by
Karl Petrick
Western New England University

  1. Fluke Switch Points in Pure Fixed Capital Systems By Vienneau, Robert L.
  2. Decent Work and The Quality of Work and Employment By Green, Francis
  3. Innovators, Bullshitters or Aristocrats: Towards an Explanation of Unproductive Work By Samaha, Amal
  4. The political economy of the next pandemic By van Bergeijk, P.A.G.
  5. Neo-humanism and COVID-19: Opportunities for a socially and environmentally sustainable world By Sarracino, Francesco; O’Connor, Kelsey J.
  6. The Nexus of Elites and War Mobilization By Ying Bai; Ruixue Jia; Jiaojiao Yang
  7. Decreasing Dependency through Self-Reliance: Strengthening Local Economies through Community Wealth Building By Julia Eder
  8. Human Capital: State of the Field and Ways to Extend the Concept By Trofimov, Ivan D.; Baawi, Nurulhana A.
  9. Addressing Biases that Impact Homeowners’ Adoption of Solar Panels By Howard Kunreuther; Anna Polise; Quinlyn Spellmeyer

  1. By: Vienneau, Robert L. (Independent Researcher)
    Abstract: This article considers structural economic dynamics, in models with fixed capital and a choice of technique, of the production of commodities. Fluke switch points are de-scribed and catalogued. For fluke switch points, parameter perturbations create a quali-tative change in how the choice of technique varies with distribution. Techniques are presented for visualizing partitions of parameter spaces such that the analysis of the choice of technique does not vary within each region. Implications are drawn about the choice of the truncation of the operation of (or the economic life of) machines and about the adoption of roundabout techniques.
    Keywords: Fixed capital; Choice of technique; Cambridge Capital Controversy; Structural dynamics.
    JEL: B51 B53 C67 D24 D33 O33
    Date: 2021–03
  2. By: Green, Francis
    Abstract: This review examines the concept of the quality of work and employment (QWE), including both 'Decent Work' and the narrower concept of 'job quality'. The key axiom is that 'quality' relates to the extent and manner in which working conditions meet people's needs from work. The review emphasises the multi-disciplinary nature of the topic. It discusses the concept's objective character, its relationship with well-being, and its link with productivity. Important measurement issues are considered, including cost, international comparability, the choice of how many indices, the treatment of inequality and the problem of discipline insularity. Some theories of the antecedents of QWE imply universal trends, while others predict differentiation across countries and regions, attributable to labour market institutions and policy. The effects on well-being and health are studied in several disciplines, including a substantial research programme in psychology. Summary trends in Europe and distributions of job quality are presented for context, including gender gaps. This description shows gradual improvement in the physical environment of work and in working time quality over the decade from 2005. Yet the distribution of job quality in several domains is not at all closely related to a country's GDP. The review concludes with a discussion of job quality policy making, and frames the ongoing research agenda.
    Keywords: job quality,well-being,wages,insecurity,working time,work intensity,skills,discretion,social environment,physical working conditions
    JEL: J01 J30 J81
    Date: 2021
  3. By: Samaha, Amal
    Abstract: An essay from Peace, Land and Bread discussing the rise of unproductive labour in the West (bullshit jobs) and various theories which sought to explain why it exists.
    Keywords: Marxism, Jurgen Habermas, David Graeber, Zak Cope
    JEL: B14 B51 F66 J0 O3
    Date: 2020–11
  4. By: van Bergeijk, P.A.G.
    Abstract: In this working paper, I investigate what I see as the major themes for the debate that we need to have to be prepared for the next pandemic. These themes are developed against the background of a more thorough investigation in my monograph _Pandemic Economics_ (van Bergeijk 2021) about the history of pandemic research. An addendum to the book is necessary, as the pandemic and recovery constantly unfold. Humanity cannot rely on modern medicine to beat the next ‘disease X’ _and_ the world cannot afford the extortionate health and economic policy interventions during the COVID-19 pandemic again. Therefore, a major global investment project is necessary to reduce the vulnerability to and impact of pandemics. It is important to recognize that inequalities to a large extent determine pandemic vulnerability and hence, adjustment of SDGs is necessary. From the COVID-19 pandemic we learned that the international economic organizations suffered from disaster myopia and that the self-image of the advanced economies is distorted. It also has become apparent that ‘beggar-thy-neighbour’ health care was generally practiced while global health care should have been the norm. A discussion on the related issues of rationing, triage and scarcity of health care during a pandemic is urgently needed.
    Keywords: COVID-19, Corona, economics, health care, political economy, pandemic, preparation, pandemic preparedness, management, inequality
    Date: 2021–04–16
  5. By: Sarracino, Francesco; O’Connor, Kelsey J.
    Abstract: A series of crises, culminating with COVID-19, shows that going "Beyond GDP" is urgently necessary. Social and environmental degradation are consequences of emphasizing GDP as a measure of progress. This degradation created the conditions for the COVID-19 pandemic and limited the efficacy of counter-measures. Additionally, rich countries did not fare the pandemic much better than poor ones. COVID-19 thrived on inequalities and a lack of cooperation. In this article we leverage on defensive growth models to explain the complex relationships between these factors, and we put forward the idea of neohumanism, a cultural movement grounded on evidence from quality-of-life studies. The movement proposes a new culture leading towards a socially and environmentally sustainable future. Specifically, neo-humanism suggests that prioritizing well-being by, for instance, promoting social relations, would benefit the environment, enable collective action to address public issues, which in turn positively affects productivity and health, among other behavioral outcomes, and thereby instills a virtuous cycle. Arguably, such a society would have been better endowed to cope with COVID-19, and possibly even prevented the pandemic. Neo-humanism proposes a world in which the well-being of people comes before the wellbeing of markets, in which promoting cooperation and social relations represents the starting point for better lives, and a peaceful and respectful coexistence with other species on Earth.
    Keywords: COVID-19,neo-humanism,subjective well-being,economic growth,sustainability,social capital,beyond GDP,quality of life,defensive growth,environmental degradation
    JEL: I31 I10 P00 O10 Q50
    Date: 2021
  6. By: Ying Bai; Ruixue Jia; Jiaojiao Yang
    Abstract: How do elites mobilize commoners to participate in a war? How does war mobilization affect elite power after the war? We argue that these two questions are interconnected, as elites mobilize war often because war benefits them. We demonstrate these relationships using the setting of the organization of the Hunan Army – an army organized by one Hunanese scholargeneral that suppressed the deadliest civil war in history, the Taiping Rebellion (1850–1864). We construct comprehensive datasets to depict the elites in the scholar-general’s pre-war network as well as the distribution of political power before and after the war. By examining how pre-war elite connections affected where soldiers who were killed came from, and subsequent shifts in the post-war distribution of political power toward the home counties of these very elites, we highlight a two-way nexus of elites and war mobilization: (i) elites used their personal network for mobilization; and (ii) network-induced mobilization elevated regional elites to the national political stage, where they influenced the fortunes of the country after the war.
    JEL: D74 H11 L14 N45 O11
    Date: 2021–04
  7. By: Julia Eder (Institute of Sociology, Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria)
    Abstract: The impact of the global financial crisis of 2007ff. led peripheral communities in the USA and in the UK such as Cleveland and Preston to question their unsustainable, outward-oriented and socially excluding development model. As a consequence, they adopted Community Wealth Building (CWB) as a new and fundamentally different local development strategy. This strategy has been analysed in case studies or in comparison with other contemporary progressive movements, initiatives and strategies, for example cooperative movements or the foundational economy. However, this paper argues that CWB shows equally interesting parallels with historical debates and practices of ‘self-reliance’ which different actors developed from the 1960s to the 1980s (mainly) in the Global South, and which are worth being studied more in detail. Thus, this paper examines to what extent CWB resembles older self-reliance approaches and how community wealth building could benefit from engaging with the theoretical foundations of the earlier debates. The central thesis is that the commonalities are more relevant than the differences and that, due to this, the actors associated with CWB could benefit from engaging with the legacy of self-reliance to complement the theoretical foundation of their approach. Methodologically, the paper draws on an analysis of policy documents, newspaper articles, and the insights from four exploratory interviews with policy advisers and politicians involved with CWB.
    Date: 2021–04
  8. By: Trofimov, Ivan D.; Baawi, Nurulhana A.
    Abstract: The paper critically examines the human capital concept that was developed in the realm of labour economics and economic growth and development, and that recently became an important way of thinking in education policy. The definition and the historical origins of the concept are provided, and the specific issues pertaining to human capital are discussed – measurement of human capital, human capital externalities, macroeconomic effects of human capital, rates of returns to education, institutional prerequisites and enablers of human capital accumulation. The critical analysis of the concept’s shortcomings and possible extensions then follows. We consider alternative conceptualizations of the human capital that are present in economics and other social sciences noting that these alternative views may have different (and frequently opposing) implications for policy. We indicate multiple rationales and logics of education and human capital investment, uncertain outcomes of the accumulation process, multiple dimensions and components of the human capital, the importance of the broader socio-economic context that shapes education investment and policy and sets prerequisites for policy, the complexities of the human capital formation process at policy level (competing political interests, but also values, philosophies and interpretations of policy problems), as well as at individual level (objective constraints to learning, varying learning outcomes and paths of human capital formation). It is also stressed that analysis of human capital would necessarily consider the costs and negative effects of particular forms of human capital, as well as capital depreciation issues. The paper forms basis for the formulation of alternative frameworks of human capital accumulation and education policy.
    Keywords: Human capital, education policy, political economy, values
    JEL: I20 I25 I26 I28 J24
    Date: 2020–02
  9. By: Howard Kunreuther; Anna Polise; Quinlyn Spellmeyer
    Abstract: Solar power is now economically competitive with fossil fuels in many countries, yet relatively few homeowners have installed solar panels on their property. A principal reason for this behavior stems from cognitive biases—such as myopia, inertia and herding—that cause consumers to avoid investing in long-term measures, even those that are financially attractive to them and produce social benefits such as reducing the long-term consequences of climate change. A behavioral risk audit can demonstrate ways to address these cognitive biases, in concert with short-term economic incentives and social influences. We focus on the installation of solar panels, an issue that has relevance to residents in the United States and the European Union, and to property owned by businesses and governments.
    JEL: H31 Q42 Q54
    Date: 2021–04

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