Lecture by Karla Hoff: “Overview of the World Development Report 2015:  Mind, Society, and Behavior”
28 April 2015

Lecture by Karla Hoff: “Overview of the World Development Report 2015: Mind, Society, and Behavior”

Tuesday April 28th 2015 at 6 pm at the Simone Weil amphitheater.
The lecture will be in English

Lecture by Karla Hoff: “Overview of the World Development Report 2015:  Mind, Society, and Behavior”

Karla Hoff is a Senior Research Economist in the Development Economics Research Group and Codirector of the World Development Report 2015. Much of her work focuses on using the tools of economics to study social interactions that depend on identity, neighborhoods, and political constituencies. She has published papers in the American Economic Review that explain how good people can form bad neighborhoods, how productivity is sensitive to social setting, and how historical legacies can impede the establishment of a rule of law. She won a Citation of Excellence for one of the top 50 papers from Emerald Management Review for her 2009 Economic Journal paper with Josepth Stiglitz, “Exiting a Lawless State.” She was a member of the MacArthur Research Network on Inequality and Economic Performance, 1996-2006. She coedited two books—The Economics of Rural Organization and Poverty Traps. Ongoing work evaluates a women’s empowerment project and a political theater program in India. Her work spans conceptual analysis and grassroots fieldwork. She has a BA in French from Wellesley College and a PhD in economics from Princeton. She taught English and literacy in the Peace Corps in the Ivory Coast.

Abstract of the lecture:

World Development Report 2015

"Development economics and policy are due for a redesign. In the past few decades, research from across the natural and social sciences has provided stunning insight into the way people think and make decisions. Whereas the first generation of development policy was based on the assumption that humans make decisions deliberatively and independently, and on the basis of consistent and self-interested preferences, recent research shows that decision making rarely proceeds this way. People think automatically: when deciding, they usually draw on what comes to mind effortlessly. People also think socially: social norms guide much of behavior, and many people prefer to cooperate as long as others are doing their share. And people think with mental models: what they perceive and how they interpret it depend on concepts and worldviews drawn from their societies and from shared histories.

The World Development Report 2015 offers a concrete look at how these insights apply to development policy. It shows how a richer view of human behavior can help achieve development goals in many areas, including early childhood development, household finance, productivity, and health. It also shows how a more subtle view of human behavior provides new tools for interventions. Making even minor adjustments to a decisionmaking context, designing interventions based on an understanding of social preferences, and exposing individuals to new experiences and ways of thinking may enable people to improve their lives.

The Report emphasizes that all humans, including experts and policy makers, are subject to psychological and social influences on thinking, and that development organizations could benefit from procedures to improve their own deliberations and decision making. It demonstrates the need for more discovery, learning, and adaptation in policy design and implementation. This Report introduces an important new agenda for the development community. "

> Leaflet in English of Karla Hoff’s lecture

> Leaflet in French