Thursday, August 29, 2013

If Not Poverty, What is Economcs For?

Daniel Little on 'Poverty and Economics' HERE 
Poverty and economics, by Daniel Little: How important should the subject of poverty be within the discipline of economics? Some economists appear to think it is a very small issue compared to the magnificent mathematics of general equilibrium theory. Others believe that economics should fundamentally be about the sources of human well-being and misery, and that understanding poverty is absolutely fundamental for economics. How should we try to sort this out?”
I read an extract of Daniel Little’s argument on Mark Thoma’s
 (Department of Economics
, University of Oregon) Blog Economist View HERE 
The paragraph quoted above sets the tone for what follows and strikes a chord with what I posted yesterday on neoclassical economics.  Now while what economics can offer for the debate on poverty is a worthwhile and appropriate subject for economists to offer views; it does not follow that necessarily they have the answer.
Little shows that some neoclassical economists deny that poverty is an appropriate subject for economists, which is controversial in itself. Follow the link and make your own mind up about its appropriateness.


Blogger airth10 said...

Sure, one aspect of economics is to fight poverty. And for the most part it has.

5:38 pm  
Blogger Gavin Kennedy said...

But the next step is to recognise that policies flowing from the poverty issue - - getting from a status quo towards change to address it -- is problematical and brings politics, both constitutional and, alas, ideological.
Much of the economics of say, the Gary Becker kind, addresses the economic consequences of the problems/behaviours, and such like, which are not about causes of the initial problem/behaviour.
These last are the fundamental problems to be addressed.
Fires are put out by water but water availability does not address the cause of a fire, only it spreading.

7:28 am  
Blogger airth10 said...


I really never understood the difference between Economics and Political Economics until now. Economics, fundamentally, is not interested in combating poverty. Political Economics is.

I am thinking of the Islam/Arab world where Political Economics has never been practiced. Poverty is a major issue there. And this is a major reason for the social upheaval and turmoil that exists there today. If political parties existed and had had a roll in fashioning economic policy in Egypt and Syria, then, I suggest, the unprecedented turmoil that exists there today would not exist.

3:11 am  

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