Hub Co-Leader: Prof Dennis Snower

Prof Dennis Snower rebuild macroDennis Snower is President of the Kiel Institute for the World Economy, and Professor of Economics at Kiel University. He is an expert in the areas of social and behavioural approaches to global problems, and in understanding macroeconomic policy under market imperfections. Some of his recent work with colleagues at the Kiel Institute has examined challenges to global cooperation and global inequality.

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Hub Co-Leader: Sir Paul Collier

Paul Collier rebuild macro

Sir Paul Collier CBE, FBA is Professor at Oxford, Professorial Fellow of St. Anthony’s College, and a distinguished author having publishing such books as: The Bottom Billion; Wars, Guns and Votes: Democracy in Dangerous Places; and Exodux: How migration is changing our world. Paul is an expert in the development issues facing low-income countries and international relations. He was knighted in 2014 for services to promoting research and policy change in Africa.

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Purpose of the Hub

The Social Macroeconomics Research Hub of Rebuilding Macroeconomics is seeking to fund pilot research projects concerning the social foundations of economic activities. The Hub thereby aims to focus on an important gap in macroeconomic analysis, namely, the influence of social groups on economic decisions and the influence of these decisions on social groups. Understanding the social underpinnings of economic activities requires an investigation of social motives driving economic decisions, enabling an understanding for the role of social integration and fragmentation in shaping macroeconomic performance. The research will aim to provide guidelines for the conduct of macroeconomic policies.

The research of the hub rests on the following ideas:

(1) Economic cooperation requires social cooperation. The Hub will study the social substrates of economic cooperation, with a view to understanding the social relations underlying economic activities and deriving appropriate policy recommendations.

(2) Social cooperation has traditionally been shaped by social groups of limited size. The bounds of social cooperation can be extended through strategic communication, which can align the identities, interests and motives of large bodies of people.

(3) The scale of current macroeconomic problems requires social cooperation that exceeds the bounds of our current social groups. While we need larger groups, social fragmentation is increasing, generating declining levels of trust and cooperation.

(4) Effective macroeconomic policies need measures that extend the bounds of social cooperation in consonance with the desired bounds of economic cooperation. Hence, the design of macroeconomic policies should be accompanied by policies that build social identities corresponding to our economic objectives.

Research Projects

Managed Evolution: A New Narrative for Macroeconomics
We apply multilevel selection theory to real-world settings within the UK, focusing on the micro, meso and macro levels. Read more.
Regional Divergence
How do differences in UK regions affect their ability to deal with economic shocks, impacting regional divergence, and how does Read more.
Is Identity-Biasing a Shortcut to Cooperation?
Are those with a shared sense of identity more likely to cooperate with each other, and on what levels do Read more.
Zero-Sum Mindset & Its Discontents
What is the prevalence, nature and structure of "zero-sum thinking" over geographical locations, and how does this affect the choices Read more.
Macrosocial feedback effects – Firm structure and political economy consequences
How does economic fragmentation in terms of income disparities give rise to social fragmentation in terms of socio-economic objectives? Read more.

Current Research Streams


Social explanations for the British productivity puzzle

  • The rise of uncertainty
  • Motivation in Organisations and Professions
  • The rise of zero-sum activities


This research stream explores new approaches that go well beyond GDP as an indicator of economic performance, by taking into account not merely environmental externalities, but also social externalities through social interactions. The new approaches call for us to distinguish not just between productive and redistributive activities, but also to investigate goals of economic activities that are not merely individualistic, but include prosocial and positionally competitive goals.

Our inaugural workshop on 15-16th January 2019 explored what sorts of policies are associated with a rise in status-seeking activities relative to prosocial activities and investigate the implications for social fragmentation.

background note Summary note

Workshops & Seminars

The initial call for research will be preceded by two brainstorming workshops that discuss examples of possible lines of research that might be funded, and generate an exchange of ideas around which further work can crystalize. The workshops will investigate both the social forces underlying economic decisions and the economic forces underlying social relations.

The ideas discussed in the workshops are meant to generate interdisciplinary research covering the overlap between economics (on the one hand) and social psychology, social neuroscience, sociology and anthropology (on the other). The research will explore the reflexive interaction between macroeconomic activity and social phenomena.


Related Blogs

Does Inequality Stoke Support for Nationalism?
The disagreements paralysing our democracies are really about values and identities, and not regulations or trade agreements. Read more.
Social Cooperation & Economic Performance
Paul Collier & Dennis J. Snower - The social foundations of our economies are being tested. Fragmentation – by class, Read more.
Macroeconomics with Human Actors?
Macroeconomics with Human Actors?
David Tuckett – In my last blog, I wrote about how economic theory needs to be ecologically valid... Read more.
Do Macroeconomists have Morals?
Do Macroeconomists have Morals?
Laura Bear – As an anthropologist among the tribe of macroeconomists in the Rebuilding Macroeconomics network I have been impressed Read more.