Economic Thought
 
Fundamental errors in the voting booth margins
Edward Glaeser , Giacomo Ponzetto
Posted on: 17 Nov 2017
Tags:   democracy

Psychologists have long documented that we over-attribute people's actions to innate characteristics rather than to circumstances. This column shows that when we commit this ‘fundamental attribution error’ as voters; we over-ascribe politicians’ success to personal characteristics that merit re-election. Although this mistake can improve politicians’ incentives in ordinary times, the theory also explains lack of institutional reform and poor institutional choices, such as decreased demand for a free press and preferences for dictatorship.
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Microfinance and predatory lending: The same old story?
Latika Chaudhury , Anand Swamy
Posted on: 19 Sep 2012

Once hailed as a near-miraculous way of lending money to the poor, microfinance is now often seen as exploitation – and governments are stepping in. This column looks at another point in India’s history where lawmakers have intervened in lending practices: following the Deccan Riots between farmers and moneylenders in 1876. It argues that in hindsight this was an overreaction – and perhaps there is a lesson for today.
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