“Dicotomia entre acadèmia i realitat?”: conferència organitzada per l’Assemblea d’Economia i Post-Crash Barcelona

Fa dues setmanes, el dimecres 21 de maig del 2014, la Facultat d’Econòmiques de la Universitat Pompeu Fabra va acollir a les seves instal·lacions la primera conferència organitzada pel moviment recén sorgit “Post-Crash Barcelona” i per la ja ben assentada des de fa anys Assemblea d’Economia de la UPF. La conferència, titulada “Dicotomia entre acadèmia i realitat?” buscava analitzar la relació entre la racionalitat i l’economia des de la psicologia, l’economia del comportament i el mètode experimental.

L’acte va començar amb una introducció per part dels organitzadors sobre la seva estructura (exposicions de les posicions inicials de cada ponent seguides d’un posterior debat i preguntes del públic) i una explicació sobre la raó de ser del moviment Post-Crash Economics i, en concret, el seu funcionament i implantació a Barcelona.

A l’inici de la conferència, també, l’Assemblea d’Economia de la UPF i el grup Post-Crash Economics Barcelona vàren presentar el manifest internacional que fou presentat, fa unes setmanes, a països de tot al món, en favor de més pluralitat a l’ensenyament de la ciència econòmica. 

Manifest internacional per major pluralitat a la ciència econòmica

Manifest internacional per major pluralitat a la ciència econòmica

Els ponents a la conferència hi van participar:

  • Jose Apesteguia, PhD Public University of Navarre (professor a la UPF i Barcelona GSE i investigador a ICREA. Especialitzat en economic theory i decision theory, entre d’altres)
  • Rosemarie Nagel, PhD University of Bonn (professora a la UPF i investigadora a ICREA . Especialitzada en experimental economics i neuro-economics, entre d’altres)
  • Robin Hogarth, PhD University of Chicago (professor emèrit a la UPF i afiliat a la Barcelona GSE i investigador a ICREA. Especialitzat en decision making processes, processes of learning, entre d’altres)

 Tota la conferència es va desenvolupar en anglès i tot seguit us en ressaltem les notes més destacades:

Introducció inicial per part dels organitzadors a la conferència "Dicotomia entre acadèmia i realitat?"

Introducció inicial per part dels organitzadors a la conferència “Dicotomia entre acadèmia i realitat?”

1) Initial expositions of the speakers 

Rose-Marie Nagel:

  • Economists should be engaged to help building a new shape for society
  • Theory and behaviour do not always go together and we need to find this convergence in order to make economics a more useful science for society
  • Theory again with a new game to fix out of equilibrium behaviour. Behaviour realities should be better accomodated into economic theory, and the best way to advance in this direction is the experimental economy. Researchers to pay better attention to the experimental economy findings.
  • Searching for other people in other fields to create synergies and better cooperation between disciplines

Robin Hogarth:

  • Macroeconomics and microeconomics do not deal at all
  • Not easy to isolate scientific factors from other factors
  • Education in economics: we need much more of a pluralistic way of looking at the world. If we go back to 300 hundred years ago they were studying one thing. Now we study a lot of things at the same time; econometrics, time series, statistics. How do we put everything together?
  • We learn mainly through experience, and this is not always taken into account by the economic science or others social sciences

Jose Apesteguia: starts by exposing a summary of what we learn at university, focusing on individual decision-making theory+risk+utility function with different shapes

  • The core issue is that over the last decades we know a lot about how actually individual behaviour functions….but in reality we are nicer than economics assumes individuals are. We care about reciprocity, we care about social norms, we care about inequality…
  • Bad news: we are not as intelligent as economics assumes individuals are. Cognitive limitations. It is not about forgetting about formality and mathematical modeling, simplifications… maths is an extremely powerful tool we need to use. we just need to change a bit some of the assumptions.
  • New utility function that takes into account how I am and as well takes into account others around us. incorporate reciprocity (this is already done)
  • Guy who cares about outcomes, but there is always a reference point
  • We don’t have a perfect understanding of probabilities (we transform, somehow,the probabilities)
  • We try to make the modeling more realistic to our human nature
  • Alternative modeling of the discounting


Imatge de la conferència "Dicotomia entre acadèmia i realitat?"

Imatge de la conferència “Dicotomia entre acadèmia i realitat?”


2) Debate between the speakers

Is it possible to apply economic modeling to other fields that are not purely economic or directly related decision-making theory?

  • Rose Marie Nagel points out that not everything we do in life (like washing the dishes) it is the result of a maximization problem..
  • Hogarth: people are not stupid, peolple are intentionally rational; people want to do the right thing. People are actually behaving by a sense of rationality, but when we interact things become much more difficult. The economic models are very usfeul (GeryBecker->economics of crime).
  • If we had a pure market economy all our decisions and environment would be defines by the market, and not by the government.

Having studied voting elections through experiments, how do you think that massive phenomenons can affect decions taken by individuals?

  • Rose-Marie Nagel talks about the difficulties of interaction between many individuals when we take into account the cooperating problems.
  • We underestimate the power of history; we cannot learn from past actions and we cannot predict future events. Capacity of predicting bubbles.
  • Cooperation between different sciences and economics today is not the best of ones, this should be more empowered and protected
  • Power of networks today….and network effectsHogarth is optimistic in this sense!!! Interactions between different sciences has been increasing.

In your opinion, which changes would you introduce in the undergraduate studies plan?

  • There is a need to understand the classic model, maybe we don not need that many classes to understand the classic model
  • More importance should be given to the experimental economics and experiments done in class
  • We should also introduce ethics in the studies plan
  • Some changes would help to make the maths much more transparent
  • Rose Marie Naguel sends to the audience an optimist message: “Optimism for the next generation: it will not be so difficult to create a new university model, because we have already created the language that we  need in order to do so” 
  • Connexion between academia and the real world: a lot can be done by students in terms of relating what they learn with what they read in the news

Are economists really willing to adopt and welcome what other sciences can contribute?  

  • They are more now willing than they used to be! Research in policy implications of the failures of the models and irrationality of individuals.
  • Importance of emotions (we do not always take into account all options and probabilities!!! we decide emotionally)
  • Rose Maria Naguel: It is all about a change in our state of mind, nothing else.

To finish this brief summary of the conference content, three key aspects could be pointed out:

  1. CONSUME!-> should be translated into “CONSUME WELL!”
  2. ENVIRONMENT should be added as a new variable in UTILITY FUNCTIONS students and economists work with
  3. If we promote this changes within the economic analysis and this new state of mind….We will probably see all problems from a very DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVE

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