An Evolutionary Theory of Resource Distribution (Part 1)

Originally published on Economics from the Top Down. The biologist Theodosius Dobzhansky famously wrote that “nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution”. I propose a corollary in economics: nothing in economics makes sense except in the light of human social evolution. [1] I explore here how the evolution of human sociality […]

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Rethinking Causation in the Social Sciences

Originally published on Economics from the Top Down. For the last few weeks, I’ve been thinking about causation in the social sciences. As with many instances of reflection, this was prompted by rejection. A political economy journal recently rejected a paper that I had submitted. The paper (available here) studied the correlation between hierarchical power […]

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Problems With Measuring Inequality

Originally published on Economics from the Top Down. Economists often talk about income inequality the same way a doctor would talk about a child’s height. Just as a doctor would say “Sylvia continues to grow taller”, economists say things like “US income inequality continues to grow”. (Full disclosure, I’m sure I’ve said similar things). On […]

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Are We Measuring Inequality the Wrong Way?

Originally published on Economics from the Top Down. In a recent blog post called “How Not to Measure Inequality”, the anthropologist Jason Hickel argues that economists measure inequality the wrong way. Hickel thinks that standard measures of inequality (such as the Gini index), underestimate global disparities. The problem, according to Hickel, is that economists measure […]

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Call For Papers: Energy, Institutions and Society

Originally published on Economics from the Top Down. I’ve been asked to create panels for the upcoming International Conference on Thermodynamics 2.0. The conference aims to bring natural and social sciences closer. It will take place at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Massachusetts, USA from June 22-24, 2020. I’m calling the panel(s) Energy, Institutions and Society. I’m […]

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The Allure of Marxism … And Why It’s a Mistake

Originally published on Economics from the Top Down. Karl Marx is probably the most important social scientist in history. But while his influence is beyond compare, Marx’s legacy is, in many ways, disastrous. Few thinkers have inspired so many people to commit crimes against humanity. Think of Stalinist gulags. Think of the Ukrainian famine of […]

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As it Dies, We Talk About the ‘Free Market’ More

Originally published on Economics from the Top Down. In The Growth of Hierarchy and the Death of the Free Market, I argued that economic development involves killing the free market. What was the evidence? As energy use increases, so does the relative number of managers. This growth of managers, I argued, indicates that economic development […]

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Can A Service Transition Save the Planet?

Originally published on Economics from the Top Down. Let’s talk sustainability. Unless you’re an anti-science crank, you probably agree that we’ve got a problem with carbon emissions. We need to drastically cut emissions to avoid catastrophic climate change. On this we should all agree. The question that’s open for debate is how to cut emissions. […]

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