top of page

Special Issue

Bio-psycho-social foundations of macroeconomics

Editor: David Tuckett, University College London (UCL), UK; Dennis J. Snower, Kiel Institute for the World Economy, Germany; Angus Armstrong, Rebuilding Macroeconomics (NIESR), UK


The origin for the call is a landmark Rebuilding Macroeconomics conference held at HM Treasury in October 2018. Rebuilding Macroeconomics is an interdisciplinary network of scholars and policy makers based at the National Institute for Economic and Social Research in London and funded by the UK’s Economic and Social Research Council. Its purpose is to enhance the policy relevance of macroeconomics by supporting rigorous, innovative and interdisciplinary research to address gaps in our macroeconomic knowledge.

Conference sessions were chaired by the Bank of England’s Chief Economist, External Members of the Bank’s Monetary Policy Committee and Parliamentarians committed to advancing macroeconomics. It comprised current "state of the art" presentations from social, psychological, statistical, mathematical and biological scientists deemed relevant to understanding and modelling how interacting economic agents combine to produce aggregate outcomes.

Contributions from those at the Rebuilding Macroeconomics conference and from other scientists are invited addressing detailed questions, such as the following:

  • Can we develop an evidence-based, scientifically plausible, understanding of how observable economic actors behave and combine to produce the broad macroeconomic outcomes we observe?

  • Based on this understanding – i.e. on robust theoretically guided and empirically supported analysis which can carry conviction in a contested policy space – what are the effects and merits of different policy tools such as in monetary and fiscal policy space, redistributive policy measures, international trade and capital policy, industrial and financial policies, environmental and social sustainability, innovation and intellectual property regimes, competition policy, etc.?

  • How can we modify existing core model assumptions about representative agents, rational expectations and the exclusion of radical uncertainty but still retain rigor in analysis?

  • How can models and policy face the current era of contested policy space – i.e. how can we recognize and explore alternative policy choices with different implications for different stakeholders – for example, present generations versus future generations, one sector of the economy versus another, one or more economic class rather than another, one gender versus another, one region versus another, etc.

Within the initial group of papers we will publish, some focus on state-of-the art knowledge in cognitive, neurobiological and social aspects of decision-making is presented. They suggest that calculation and co-ordination via the price mechanism plays a much more limited role in decision-making than is usually assumed in macroeconomics – in part because of the fact many of the most significant economic decisions require economic agents (including policy makers) to cope with a context of radical uncertainty.

A second group of papers deal more directly with the influence of the social on the economy. Values and principles may influence how people co-ordinate so that knowledge of them may provide insights into the methods of enquiry and analysis that are then necessary, placing a strong emphasis on the merits of detailed descriptions of economic action, including of how agents respond to policy shifts.

We are looking for additional papers on these themes or new ones bringing this thinking into macroeconomics.

Deadline for Paper Submissions: October 31, 2019


Commentary on Edmund Rolls: ‘Emotion and reason in human decision-making’

Mark Solms | July 25, 2019

Beyond quantified ignorance: rebuilding rationality without the bias bias

Henry Brighton | March 15, 2019

Escape from model-land

Erica L. Thompson and Leonard A. Smith| March 8, 2019

Markets are a function of language: notes on a narrative economics

Douglas R. Holmes | February 25, 2019

Family firms as kinship enterprises

Sylvia Yanagisako | February 11, 2019

Toward a cognitive science of markets: economic agents as sense-makers

Samuel G.B. Johnson | February 11, 2019

How everyday ethics becomes a moral economy, and vice versa

Webb Keane | February 06, 2019

Emotion and reasoning in human decision-making

Edmund T. Rolls | February 06, 2019

bottom of page