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The Superiority of Economists
Marion Fourcade, Etienne Ollion, and Yann Algan

[Keywords: social sciences, social scientists, quantitative reasoning; JEL: A1, A2, I2]

In this essay, we investigate the dominant position of economics within the network of the social sciences in the United States. We begin by documenting the relative insularity of economics, using bibliometric data. Next we analyze the tight management of the field from the top down, which gives economics its characteristic hierarchical structure. Economists also distinguish themselves from other social scientists through their much better material situation (many teach in business schools, have external consulting activities), their more individualist worldviews, and in the confidence they have in their discipline’s ability to fix the world’s problems. Taken together, these traits constitute what we call the superiority of economists, where economists’ objective supremacy is intimately linked with their subjective sense of authority and entitlement. While this superiority has certainly fueled economists’ practical involvement and their considerable influence over the economy, it has also exposed them more to conflicts of interests, political critique, even derision.

DOI:   http:/

Capital accumulation: fiction and reality
Shimshon Bichler and Jonathan Nitzan

[Keywords: capital accumulation, capital real, capital financial; JEL: G00, F3, F4]

What do economists mean when they talk about ‘capital accumulation’? Surprisingly, the answer is anything but clear. The conventional view is that there are two types of capital, real and financial; that these two capitals should correspond to one another; and that, unfortunately, most of the time they don’t: in general, goes the argument, the growth of financial capital tends to mismatch and distort the accumulation of real capital. The paper shows this ‘mismatch thesis’ – and therefore the ability of economists to explain accumulation – to be built on foundations of sand. Economists, it argues, cannot measure real capital in the first place, and the proxies they devise for that purpose entangle them in logical circularities and empirical impossibilities.


Rethinking Financial Deepening: Stability and Growth in Emerging Markets
Ratna Sahay, Martin Čihák, Papa N’Diaye, Adolfo Barajas and others

[Key words: financial development, financial deepening, financial inclusion, emerging markets, economic growth, financial stability; JEL: G10, G18, G20, G28]

This paper uses a new measure of financial development to show that many benefits in terms of growth and stability can still be reaped from further financial development in most emerging markets. First, it defines financial development as a combination of depth, access and efficiency. Second, it highlights that the economic growth weakens at higher levels of financial development. Third, it indicates that the pace of financial development matters. Forth, it provides a new angle related to the tradeoffs of financial regulation. Finally, it finds that there is no “one-size-fits-all” in the sequencing of developing financial institutions versus markets, though as economies evolve the relative benefits from institutions decline and those from markets increase.


Theories of value: similarities and differences in economics and social anthropology
Juan José García del Hoyo y Celeste Jiménez de Madariaga [pdf]

[Key words: economics, anthropology, rational behavior, value, needs, utility; JEL: Z130, B500, D010, D460]

This paper is a review of the notions of value in economics and anthropology. In this review, the greater difficulty has been, indeed, the historical separation between disciplines that frequently have developed their theoretical conceptualizations about economic fact separately, while the cooperation attempts have had to overcome important methodological and formal differences. However, the analysis of the main anthropological and economic contributions has shown the necessity to re-examine the foundations about value and to reflect on the use of this concept.


Fiscal decentralization in Latin America. Results of a process
Diego E. Pinilla, Juan de Dios Jiménez y Roberto Montero[pdf]

[Key words: decentralization, fiscal federalism, Latin America; JEL: E65, H74, H77, N16]

There are common factors that explain the origin and depth of Latin American decentralization: increased urban population, political and economic opening as well as the territorial dimension. Decentralization as a goal imposed major transfer of resources to the subnational level, resulting in significant fiscal deterioration. A second generation of reforms aims to establish new priorities such as healthy local finances, moderate leverage and a greater local tax effort. The conclusion is that decentralization is a process that requires an adequate institutional framework and will need to continue on the path of fostering true local financial autonomy.


Corruption in the Mexican state bureaucracy
Irvin Mikhail Soto y Willy Walter Cortéz [pdf]

[Key words: corruption, democracy, political alternation, political competition; JEL: D72, D73, H00, K42]

This article empirically analyzes the determinants of bureaucratic corruption in Mexican states. For this purpose, we developed a panel data model that includes economic and political factors. The results indicate that for income level there is a positive relation while showing that party alternation in states is negatively related with the degree of corruption. However, there is not sufficient evidence to suggest that an increase in political competition significantly affects the capability to combat corruption.


Regional economic and population growth in Colombia, 1985-2012
Luis Armando Galvis [pdf]

[Keywords: spatial Markov chains, density, persistence, economic geography; JEL: R10, R11, R12]

Economic and demographic growth in Colombia has been dominated by the largest cities. This has resulted in the common belief that Colombia is mainly an urban country. The aim of this paper is to show how economic and demographic growth has evolved, especially in terms of population density, since the mid-eighties. Using Markov transition chains and their spatial counterpart, we show that since the mid-eighties, municipalities have experienced a highly persistent pattern in which the main cities have maintained their position as the most densely populated. In contrast, municipalities that exhibited low levels of population density have remained relatively stagnant.


Standard of living and institutional development in Colombian oil-endowed municipalities (2000-2010)
Diana Patricia Niño Muñoz[pdf]

[Keywords: standard of living; institutional development; oil royalties; JEL: Q00, Q5, O04]

Some researchers claim that rents resulting from natural resources could be a curse for human development depending on their institutions. Using a comparative method to determine if institutional decline and deterioration of quality of life were independent situation in the main oil municipalities, I constructed two indices (of institutional quality and living conditions) for the period 2000-2010. The results suggest the existence of an institutional threshold above which the relationship between per capita royalties and institutional quality is negative. This situation is a necessary but insufficient condition in municipalities experiencing the natural resource curse. This contributes to the policies of these municipalities and provides a warning regarding the new institutional regulation of royalties in the country.


Trust in mining areas of Antioquia, Bolívar and Córdoba
Santiago Silva, Adolfo Eslava, Andrés Preciado and others [pdf]

[Keywords: trust, corruption, mining; JEL: Z13, D73, L72]

Corruption is a universal phenomenon. However, many societies have managed to counteract its negative effects through public policies and sustained social efforts on transparency and prosocial values. This article seeks to examine the micro-institutional arrangements of the mining areas of the departments of Antioquia, Córdoba and Bolívar, and their relationship to corruption. The results of the fieldwork suggest that the formal and informal rules and community attributes of the mining regions under study encourage corrupt practices, particularly through the loss of trust among their people.


The myth of the 400,000 abortions in Colombia
Mauricio Rubio [pdf]

[Keywords: clandestine abortions; demography, health, Colombia; JEL: A1, D00, H00]

For several years, without any justification and against all available evidence, it has been said that in Colombia 400,000 clandestine abortions are performed each year. This paper seeks to test the validity of this number. First, it provides an overview of what could have been the original source of this figure, and then it shows that this hasty calculation is inconsistent with a rigorous study of induced abortion made in 1992. Also, it analyses different sources of information that contradict those assessments; exposes the difficulties inherent in estimating the magnitude of illegal activities; and criticizes one methodology. Finally, it estimates the range of the number of annual abortions based on the Demographic and Health Surveys.


English proficiency in Colombia after post-secondary education: A relative distribution analysis
Julio César Alonso, Juan David Martin y Beatriz Gallo [pdf]

[Keywords:bilingualism, linguistic skills, relative distribution, inequality, polarization measures; JEL: J24, C40]

The Colombian Government has adopted a policy to improve communication skills in English at all education levels and especially in higher education, but little has been written about the achievements of the policy. This paper examines changes in the distribution of students’ English proficiency level between the start and completion of their higher education programs. The results suggest an improvement in the distribution after graduating from higher education, characterized by a greater impact at higher scoring levels and an increased polarization.



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