Category Archives: Economy & Society

Economic decisions have a direct impact on the development of our society. Learning to manage the synergies between the economic world, businesses and communities helps improve individuals’ living environments, deal with crises and conflicts, and support organizational development.

Brexit, Uncertainty and Values at Risk – Five Risk Management Lessons

After nearly three years of negotiations, Brexit is proving a seemingly intractable problem, with all routes out of the EU looking costly for the UK. With emotions running high, opinions polarised, and reasoned argument often elusive, maybe a risk management perspective can offer some useful insights, suggests Professor Anette Mikes (HEC Lausanne, UNIL).

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Mosquitoes, malaria and the spread of slavery in the US

In 1641 Massachusetts legalized slavery, the first North American colony to do so. Slavery was to persist in the colonies and territories, and then the United States for another two centuries, until formally abolished by the Thirteenth Amendment in 1865. Numerous theories have been advanced about why the US, a nation that values individual liberty so highly, introduced and institutionalized the practice of slavery. And why the slavery of African slaves in the southern states, in particular, became the prevalent form of slavery. Now, Elena Esposito publishes new research showing how the spread of malaria in North America may explain the pattern of growth of slavery in the US.

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Keeping the lights on: are electricity firms the next “too big to fail” crisis?

In the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis it became clear that regulators had allowed many financial services firms to become “too big to fail”. Yet this system-critical firm problem is not confined to financial services. In their paper “Can electricity companies be too big to fail?” Ann van Ackere, Erik R. Larsen and Sebastian Osorio explain how a similar challenge faces the electricity sector, and offer some suggestions to help regulators prevent the lights from going out.

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War and peace: The case for power sharing

There has long been an association between politics and violence. Factional disagreements can often lead to prolonged violence. At the same time, there is apparent evidence that the prospect or reality of power sharing can reduce violence – as with the Good Friday agreement and paramilitaries in Northern Ireland, for example. At a time when factional violence, within a country or region, is evident in numerous parts of the world, research that examines how to prevent that violence is particularly relevant.

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The case for investing in good quality early child care

Two researchers look at the controversial issue of whether Early Child Care for very young children (under the age of three) provides benefits over care at home. And if so, whether it benefits children to a different degree depending on their circumstances.

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A change of mind: A more effective approach to shaping attitudes towards social and economic issues

Research suggests that, perhaps instinctively, people tend to prefer stability and the status quo to transformation and new ideas, even when they are personally disadvantaged as a result. The tacit approval of inequality despite its proven negative impact on society is a good example. Patrick Haack, Assistant Professor at HEC Lausanne and Jost Sieweke, Assistant Professor at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam investigate why we think and behave this way. In doing so they provide persuasive new insights on how to change prevailing attitudes and behavior.

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Tackling inequality: why wealth taxes may not be the answer

Could capital taxes on personal wealth be part of the solution to tackling growing inequalities in society? Unfortunately, there is little research evidence to support arguments for or against the imposition of wealth taxes. However, new research shows that use of wealth taxes in the battle against global inequality is far from straightforward.

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Breaking down the fear barrier: How the consumer learning effect can increase vaccination uptake

Vaccination programs have the potential to substantially reduce the health and economic burden of many common diseases. However, vaccine uptake is far from optimal. One suggested reason for this is a general fear and mistrust of vaccinations. In their paper ‘Learning to Trust Flu Shots’ Jürgen Maurer and Katherine Harris investigate how the consumer learning process can help build trust and improve influenza vaccination use.

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Managing the expectations trade-off: Why flexible agreements often prove counter-productive

A common criticism of economics is that economic theory often fails to predict real world events, spectacularly so in some cases. More recently, however, a more empirical approach to economics has emerged that combines economic theory, psychology, and laboratory experimentation, in order to better understand decision making in real life situations.

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The economic cycle of fear: How panic fuelled a global recession

As President Franklin D Roosevelt famously once observed: “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself”. It is an aphorism that policymakers should take note of, given the findings of research by Philippe Bacchetta and Eric van Wincoop into the causes of the Great Recession.

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